Down the Amazon you’ll find an array of boats carrying all kinds of passengers, but the most discerning choose Ker & Downey and a privileged spot aboard the brand new M/V Aria. This ‘floating boutique hotel’ traverses the pristine Pacaya Samiria reserve where the wildlife puts on a display you won’t want to miss.
As the popularity of the Peruvian Amazon grows, so does the luxury cruise ship fleet of Aqua Expeditions. In April of 2011, the M/V Aria was introduced as a second option to float the tranquil Amazon. The plush modern aesthetics of this updated vessel come courtesy of renowned Peruvian architect Jordi Puig, the same artist who designed the Aria’s sister ship, the M/V Aqua. There is space aboard for 32 Amazonian adventurers – eight more than the Aqua – as well as a generous observation deck with ample room for sun loungers and a luxurious outdoor Jacuzzi.
From the decks of the Aria, Peru’s Amazon comes to life in a vivid spectacle of color and natural beauty. Guests are guided aboard a fleet of skiffs to see the treasured forests and jungle denizens up close. In the low water season, typically June through November, more of the land trails are navigable by foot, while in the high water season, the skiff does all the moving for you as much of the lush jungle is flooded with some 23 extra feet of water.
The sunrise over the Amazon you will see on your first morning aboard is merely an appetizer and the excursions along the mighty river’s tributaries are each a satisfying side dish composing the main course of your journey. Spend time in the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve, see the black waters of the Nauta Caño and experience the meeting of the rivers Ucayali and Marañon to form the mighty Amazon. Wildlife is in abundance from every angle, above and below, and naturalist guides are keen to point out the sights and sounds of the waterlogged jungle. Giant Victoria Regias water lilies, the world’s largest aquatic plant, emerge in a burst of color from the waters. Monkeys hoot at you from the nearby trees, and birds are constantly heard chirping happily in the thick forest. Flashes of grey and pink – yes, pink! – pass inches from you as the unique freshwater dolphins escort the skiffs through the waters. Not nearly as friendly as the dolphins, but still fascinating, carnivorous piranhas can be seen in certain sections of the river. If you’re lucky, you may find one staring back at you from the end of your fishing line. You will visit the Yacapana Isles, known as “Isle of the Iguana,” where untold numbers of these lizards make the most of sunny days on the shores. Exit the skiff to meet the villagers of the region and share in their stories of life next to the powerful river. After watching the colorful macaws take flight at sunset, the skiff will meander back to the ship, and your guide will be on the lookout for caiman and other nighttime river dwellers.
Off-boat tours are offered typically twice daily with time midday for lunch and even a relaxing siesta in your suite or on the sun deck. Executive Chef Pedro Miguel Schiaffino has offered his talents to the Aria’s sumptuous menu, utilizing native fish and produce to craft meals that showcase the region’s cuisine and pair perfectly with the extensive selection of wines on offer. Rise each morning to enjoy the breakfast buffet, given an exotic treatment with the array of tropical juices made from fresh-squeezed fruits. From start to finish, whether on three-, four- or seven-night cruises, the M/V Aria chauffeurs you in splendor through the unexpected wonders of the Peruvian Amazon.