Greatest Amazon Experience (2008)

Explore the most biologically-diverse ecosystem on Earth, the Amazon rainforest. This amazing network of forests, rivers and lakes contains an exceptional variety of animal life, including primates, birds, freshwater dolphins and invertebrates. You travel rivers with exotic names—Amazon, Ucayali, Pacaya—and even more exotic surroundings. You boat is the finest example of classic elegance found plying the entire 4,200 miles of the Amazon, and your guides, the most skilled and knowledgeable in the region.


Day 1: U.S. / Lima, Peru

Fly to Lima, Peru, the nationÂ’s capital and largest city, and transfer to your hotel for the night.

Day 2: Lima / Iquitos / Nauta / Embark Amazon Riverboat

Tour historic Lima, visiting Casa Aliaga, a private home dating back to the Conquistadors. See the Cathedral, where Francisco Pizarro is entombed, and Plaza de Armas. Before lunch, tour the monastery and vast catacombs of the Iglesia de San Francisco. Fly over the Andes to Iquitos and drive to the small port town of Nauta on the Marañón River, where you will board La Amatista. Enjoy stargazing and storytelling with local guides. Cruise slowly toward the confluence marking the beginning of the Amazon River, where you spend the night.

Day 3: Confluence of the Amazon River / Río Ucayali

You awake this morning on the Amazon, seeing some of the ever-changing panorama of jungle life as La Amatista continues upriver. Small villages dot the shoreline, and channels weaving through island mazes provide close-up views of a variety of birds. Your first excursion navigates the waterways aboard sturdy excursion boats to areas where you may find marsh birds such as oriole blackbirds, green ibis, yellow-headed caracaras, black-capped donacobis and white-headed marsh-tyrant. The confluence of the Ucayali and Marañón Rivers is famous as the beginning of the Amazon River. Amazingly, you are about 2,400 miles from where the river flows into the Atlantic. The river drops only about 350 feet the entire way! You turn into the Río Ucayali, where you’re apt to find gray river dolphins and Amazon pink dolphins cavorting near the boat and along the shoreline. Use hydrophones to listen to the pink river dolphins as naturalists share local lore and explain dolphin interaction and how the dolphins use sounds to hunt. Later take an excursion into the surrounding rainforest in search of giant water lilies and elusive wildlife such as monkeys and sloths. As dusk approaches, fishing bats begin their night’s foraging.

Day 4: Río Ucayali / Pacaya-Samiria Reserve

After a peaceful breakfast along the black-water Sapote Creek, explore a small tributary of the Ucayali in search of piranha, which are very common in the slower-moving water. With luck, you may catch red-breasted, white or black piranha, and feast on your catch this evening. You look for animals including primates, sloths and an enormous variety of birds. La Amatista continues upriver to the Pacaya-Samiria Reserve. Although scientific studies are far from exhausted, the Pacaya-Samiria is the known home to 450 bird species, 102 species of mammals, over 130 species of reptiles and amphibians, and countless plants. This afternoon, an excursion into this largest wetland reserve in the world provides the opportunity to see primates, including monk sakis, red howler, saddle-backed tamarin and squirrel monkeys. Explore Caro Lake, connected to the river by way of a very small stream, where you may find flocks of greater ani, often seen following monkeys in search of insects disturbed by the monkeysÂ’ foraging. Enjoy a nighttime boat excursion for a chance to find caimans, capybaras, common potoos, frogs and other nocturnal wildlife.

Day 5: Pacaya-Samiria Reserve

Spend the day exploring this flooded realm, seeing wading birds such as herons, wattled jacanas and horned screamers. Venture deep into the rainforest, tour an igapo (seasonally flooded forest), where plant life is very different from what you will see along the main course of the Amazon cruise, and walk through the forest. Once you reach the reserve's second checkpoint, hike around the ranger station. Lucky guests may release turtle hatchlings. A delicious lunch energizes you for afternoon excursions with expert naturalists, where you may find scarlet macaws, hoatzins, black-collared hawks and red howler monkeys.

Day 6: Pacaya-Samiria Reserve

After an early breakfast, board excursion boats for access even further into the heart of these vast wetlands. As your Amazon cruise tours the narrow waterways, you’ll find birds such as canary-winged parakeets and spectacular blue-and-gold and scarlet macaws. Primates also are fairly common, including noisy squirrel monkeys. Arrive at a ranger station, where you may take a short hike to explore the forest. After a picnic lunch, gradually make the way back to your riverboat through the maze of waterways. Visit a village along the river, with the chance to learn about the lives of the “Ribereño” people who live there. Accompanied by guides who grew up along the river, this is a fantastic opportunity to stroll through gardens learning about medicinal plants and folklore, visit a school, or join in a game of soccer. The children are especially excited to see their faces on digital cameras and to show off their school and sing Peruvian songs. Learn about medicinal plants and enjoy a blessing ceremony by a respected village shaman.

Day 7: Río Ucayali / Marañón River

This morning you head back downriver, for morning wildlife or other activity. Aboard the ship, take advantage of the open-air top deck, learning to make traditional Peruvian dishes or enjoying an enriching lecture. After dark youÂ’ll go out in the excursion boats to listen to the sounds of the rainforest and look for nocturnal wildlife.

Day 8: Marañón River / Amazon Rainforest

Journey into the terra firma forest on a winding trail. Large trees festooned with epiphytes, palms, woody vines and a vaulted canopy add to the shadowed mystery of the tropical jungle. Once back aboard La Amatista, enjoy a farewell dinner.

Day 9: Nauta / Iquitos / Lima / En Route

You disembark in Nauta and drive to Iquitos to board the flight to Lima. Before an afternoon at leisure, enjoy lunch in a distinctive local restaurant, tasting a variety of Peruvian dishes. Dayrooms are available at a hotel until you are transferred for your overnight flight to the U.S.

Day 10: Arrive home

Arrive in the U.S. and connect with flights home.

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