Martine Bury embarks on a voyage through South America’s most exquisite destination and shares her Amazon travel guide with us in this three-part series on Peru.
The Amazon Expedition
Getting to Iquitos is a bit of an inconvenience. It’s more like a mission. Only accessible by plane or river travel, Peru’s bustling jungle hub is full of contradictions. Fancy hotels and elegant bars interspersed with tin shacks are huddled together—flanked by the mighty Amazon River and thick canopy. Mopeds speed by as locals go about their business and visitors look for the next adventure—ziplining or shopping strange, amazing open-air markets. It’s the hustle of life, but it moves slowly.
Spellbound by our journey from the moment we leave the airport and throughout the escorted drive to the wild riverside, the big reveal of the big reveal of Aria Amazon ups the ante. Outfitted with 16, river facing suites, Aqua Expeditions’ cruise ship takes us to the heart of the Pacaya Samaria Reserve where we embark on smaller vessels after early breakfast and before cocktails each night to spy black caiman, rare pink dolphins, sloths and elusive jaguars. We never see the big cat, but our intrepid guide does scoop a baby anaconda for us to meet firsthand.
On the river, there are moments that make my heart stop—when a hundreds-strong flock of white herons chases our speedboat; when we canoe with indigenous women to dive into the Blackwater (the one place in the river with a pH safe enough to swim); and when the students of a school near the riverbank sing to us. Couple that starry nights on-deck and gourmet meals by Executive Chef Pedro Miguel Schiaffino, centered on local paiche fish and the weird, wonderful fruits of this river region.
It’s hard to imagine, at the end of these two weeks, that we’ve only begun to scratch the surface in Peru. We know we will be back for more.