One of the best ways to experience the mighty Amazon river is aboard the Aria Amazon. This eco-conscious luxury cruise offers 3 to 7 night stays along the Amazon River in Peru.
Run by Aqua Expeditions, the Aria Amazon has everything one expects from a Ker & Downey trip, from the gold-standard service the moment you walk off the plane to the packed lunches when they drop you off at the airport. The vessel boasts just 16 suites, so it’s also not intrusive on the river. Every inch is utilized efficiently, and the staff to client ratio is only 1:3, making for great attention to detail and safety.
My favorite part? I never had to plan or think; they executed every detail like clockwork. The hardest decision I had to make was which excursions I wanted to do, as there were plenty of activities packed into three days.
Arriving to the Amazon
On arrival, I knew immediately that I was in the rainforest. The heat and humidity engulfed me. Unfortunately, April is the wet season in the Amazon, meaning daily rain pours are expected. However, this also means fewer mosquitoes, which was a silver-lining.
The Aria Amazon naturalist guides warmly greeted us at arrivals with a wet towel, chocolate, and cold waters. There were 22 people boarding the ship, and they knew all our names within ten minutes. We drove to Iquitos, where we had a tasty local meal then started our journey onto the boat.
I slowly became used to the routine onboard. After coffee and breakfast, we would set out for more exploring on the skiffs. With Aqua Expeditions, there is never more than six people in a skiff.
Our first excursion was a visit to an indigenous tribe who greeted us with a talk. They explained what life was like living in the rainforest and showed us a few traditional dances. Afterward, we explored further into the rainforest via skiff, another perk of the wet season. Sloths lingered high above, squirrel monkeys swung from branch to branch, and parrots flew in pairs in the sky.
Indeed, the Amazon proved magical, surrounded by exotic wildlife and beauty.
Other activities we experienced included kayaking, swimming, canoeing, and piranha fishing, which was loads of fun. We also did a rainforest walk to try and find the infamous poison dart frog. We never did see one, but walking among the towering trees, surrounded by vibrant flora and fauna, and balancing on suspended bridges high above the ground, was an experience I will always remember.
The Aqua Expeditions naturalist guides were extremely knowledgeable, all of them born in the rainforest. During my cruise, I learned how they grew up and how they became Amazon guides.
One guide has been in school for 16 years, still learning about touring as well as several different languages. Their passion for nature and wildlife made me passionate about it. They could locate any bird by their song, knew where to find caimans in the dark, could smell monkeys from a distance, and could call pink dolphins closer to the skiff. I was amazed at how in tune these guides were with the environment.
One afternoon we visited a local community to deliver school, hygiene, and fishing supplies as part of Aqua's philanthropy initiative. The people warmly welcomed our arrival, showing off their beautiful land and explaining what their day to day life is like living in this hard environment. The children were excited to receive new supplies and were most happy about the toothbrushes.
Takeaways from the Amazon
The three days went extremely fast, yet I felt like I saw and experienced so much of the Amazon. One of the most important take-aways was how many animals are becoming endangered. This is especially true for the manatee, which is down to under 200 in the wild.
Aqua Expeditions has made it its top priority to protect the Amazon. Its main mission is to educate guests when they come to visit. Jean-Michel Cousteau said, “If you love something, you’ll protect it.” And that’s exactly what they stand for. This experience certainly made me fall in love with the Amazon, and I encourage others to take the journey to see for themselves.
Benefits of an Amazon Luxury Cruise
Traveling by boat made seeing more of the Amazon possible while enjoying the luxury comforts of a 5-star hotel. I cannot rave enough about the delicious meals, which were locally sourced and made on-board.
Another benefit was waking up to different views on the river. Indeed, floor to ceiling windows come standard with every room on the Aria Amazon.
From beginning to end, the Amazon River and the Aria Amazon made a deep impression on me. Everything was flawless.