When you think of river cruising, the first thing that comes to mind is probably intimate cruises of the Danube or Seine rivers in Europe or even cruises of the Mississippi River. However, a lesser-known option for river cruising is to cruise the mighty Amazon River. The Amazon river is truly a sight to behold, as it is not only the second longest river in the world, but it is also the largest river by volume of output, making it a truly spectacular destination for any river cruise enthusiast.
Whether you choose to cruise the Brazilian, Peruvian, or Ecuadorian sections of The Amazon, you will be exposed to the breathtaking natural wonders of The Amazon rainforest, and you will see wonderful cultural sites that have developed along its banks. If you have not previously considered an Amazon river cruise, here are just a few of the reasons to consider doing so.
Ample Ship and Line Options
With the popularity of Amazon river cruises on the rise, more cruise lines and ships are adding itineraries along the Amazon each year. This means that no matter your tastes when it comes to cruising, whether you like something rustic, elegant, intimate, or large with lots of amenities, there will likely be a cruise that meets your needs. In fact, one of the unique things about The Amazon River is that it is wide enough, and (more importantly) deep enough to accommodate large ocean cruise
ships. This provides the perfect opportunity for those looking for the unique experiences a river cruise has to offer but who still want access to the extensive amenities of larger cruise ships.
Multiple, Unique Itineraries
With a river as large as The Amazon, you will also be able to choose from a variety of unique itineraries. If you want to see more nature and historical sites rather than large cities, then the less traveled Peruvian section of the river may be right for you. Peruvian Amazon cruises often originate in Iquitos and use more intimate vessels to explore some of the rivers more fascinating tributaries. These cruises often include a tour of the Yacapana Isles, which are famous for their iguana populations, and they also take passengers to see the Yarapa River’s stunning pink and grey freshwater dolphins. The Peruvian stretch of the Amazon is definitely for those adventurers looking for the road less traveled.
A cruise along the Brazilian stretch of the Amazon allows you to pick from a wider range of cruise lines, ships, and itineraries, and is great for those looking for a more cultural experience as you will be able to see a variety of cities and villages includes Parintins, Manaus, Santarem, and Boca de Valeria. A unique feature of booking a Brazilian Amazon cruise through one of the larger cruise lines, such as Princess Cruises or Viking, is that these lines often offer cruises that originate in Florida ports and make stops at Caribbean islands such as Barbados, St. Thomas, and St. Lucia before cruising The Amazon, allowing you to experience the best that ocean and river cruising has to offer.
The Diverse Wildlife
One of the most spectacular features of a cruise of the Amazon is the diversity of the wildlife that you will see as you travel through the jungles of the Amazon Basin. In fact, the sheer diversity of flora and fauna in the Amazon is staggering as this area contains the largest collection of living plant and animal species in the world. This region is home to 2.5 million insect species, over 10,000 species of plants, 2,000 birds, over 400 mammals, 400 amphibians, and over 300 reptiles. On a cruise through The Amazon, you will never cease to be amazed by the wonders you will see each day.
Gateway to The Inca Empire
One of the benefits to choosing a cruise of the Peruvian section of The Amazon is that many of these cruises include a trip to the lost Inca city of Machu Picchu at the beginning or end of the cruise. Built hundreds of years ago but not re-discovered until 1911, these Inca ruins atop a mountain have fascinated people around the world for over a hundred years. As part of your Peruvian Amazon trip, you will be able to explore these ruins for yourself and discover what has captivated travelers for a century.
The Meeting of The Waters
Should you choose a Brazilian Amazon cruise, one of the key features you will get to see if the meeting of the waters near Manaus. The meeting of the waters is where two major tributaries of strikingly different colors, the light brown Solimoes River and the black Negro River, come together and run alongside each other for several miles without merging. This creates a stunning visual effect where one is able to see the distinct line where these two rivers touch without intermingling, allowing for stunning vistas and photographs.
Things to Keep in Mind When Cruising the Amazon
Prepare for Rain, and Lots of It
While a cruise of The Amazon river will allow you to see amazing natural wonders, it is important to remember that The Amazon Basin is so green and alive with activity because it gets a large amount of rain; an average of 12 feet per year. You will likely encounter rain at some point on your trip so come prepared with an umbrella and light rain jacket to help keep you dry.
Bring Plenty of Insect Repellant
With all of that moisture and wildlife also comes an abundance of insects. You should consider covering up as much as possible by wearing long-sleeved shirts, pants, and long socks. Keep these layers thin, as it can be hot and humid, particularly during the dry season. You will also want to pack plenty of insect repellant to protect any parts of your body that are exposed.
Be Ready to Explore
While you will be able to experience breathtaking views right from your cruise ship, some of the best sights will be seen while you are on land, and you should plan accordingly by bringing clothes and shoes appropriate for extensive walking and hiking.
For those who have never explored The Amazon River Basin, you will likely be blown away by the wonders you will see on your trip.