The M/V Aria luxury cruise ship was custom designed in 2011 to offer guests the upmost level of comfort as a professional crew and naturalist guides lead you down the Amazon River. The Aria has an outdoor deck with a Jacuzzi and lounge area for guests to enjoy the scenery. The inside of the cruise ship is composed of a lounge, excercise room, and dining room that offers gourmet Peruvian cuisine.
Aria Luxury Amazon River Cruise Itinerary
Our staff will transfer you to the Lima airport for your afternoon flight to Iquitos.
In just an hour and 45 minutes you will be in the heart of the Peruvian Amazon region. Your guides await you, as your flight from Lima glides in for landing at Iquitos International Airport. After you’ve claimed your luggage, you will board an air-conditioned bus for your journey to the river. There the M/V Aria awaits you. From the moment you step on board, you will enjoy the M/V Aria’s atmosphere of low-key luxury. As you settle into your handsomely appointed, over-sized suite, you will feel the vessel begin to move –the beginning of one of the great adventures of your life. Stand on the Upper Deck to take in the view, as the M/V Aria leaves Iquitos behind.
Over the next seven days, you will also sail along the two largest tributaries of the Amazon, the Ucayali and the Marañon, as well as the mighty Amazon itself. You are embarking on a spectacular adventure, to a place visited by only a few of even the most experienced world travelers.
Before dinner we will perform a routine safety drill. Then it’s into the air-conditioned lounge, where you will learn about life onboard, and will have the first of the nightly briefings about your adventure to follow. You will meet the naturalist guides and the cruise director, who will use video, photos, and maps to explain the details of your journey into the Amazon.
Sit down, relax, sample some fine South American wine, and enjoy the truly world-class cuisine, created by Executive Chef Pedro Miguel Schiaffino, whose restaurant, Malabar, is the one of the best in all of Lima. Schiaffino’s recipes, with the imaginative use of local products – fruit, fish, spices – make every meal a delightful adventure. (The menu always offers choices, including a vegetarian option.) Toast the beginning of a beautiful journey. Perhaps enjoy a nightcap on the Upper Deck, under the stars, before retiring.
Overnight: M/V Aria (D)
Day 2: Amazon | Yanayacu | Yacapana | Yarapa
Be up early to catch your first glimpse of the majestic Amazon River, as you watch the sun rise over this green world filled with wonderful wildlife. This initial contact with Amazonia is only a brief sampling of what the rest of your journey will hold. Our sumptuous daily breakfast buffet features a wide choice of traditional breakfast egg dishes, plus Peruvian specialties, and fresh-squeezed juices, made from tropical fruits you’ve never tasted before.
Locals call the Yacapana Isles the “the Isle of the Iguana” thanks to the great number of these reptiles, resembling tiny dinosaurs, which inhabit them. Amazonian beliefs state that if you touch an iguana, you will develop some of its characteristics and, as no one wants to look like one of them, these animals are well protected. We will pass very close the islands aboard the launches, giving you an opportunity to take good photos of the flora and fauna that we are able to observe along our route. We will also have the opportunity to go fishing for the infamous piranhas with our naturalists.
While the boat continues its journey along the Amazon River, you will have free time to rest or take a siesta before lunch. Enjoy a light lunch in the air conditioned dining room.
As the sun sets, you will have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see and photograph both gray and pink freshwater dolphins. The people of the Amazon believe that these dolphins turn into humans to steal handsome men or pretty women from their villages during celebrations. Once the sun sets and the jungle is dark, we begin our search for caiman, frogs, and different kinds of nightlife. Before dining, we recommend drinking a pisco sour as an aperitif on the top deck, while watching the sunset.
Overnight: M/V Arias (B, L, D)
Day 3: Ucayali | Yanallpa | Dorado Rivers | Pacaya Samira National Reserve
This morning you will explore with our guides the Yanallpa Stream looking for wildlife such as the bald uakari monkey, squirrel monkeys, saddleback tamarin monkeys, sloths and many other species. We will observe the trees which grow in these seasonally-flooded areas and our guides will explain the natural mechanisms through which the vegetation withstands the water during these months. Return to the M/V Aria for lunch, followed by a siesta.
On this afternoon trip, you will be able to appreciate the different types of freshwater dolphin, including the rare pink dolphins found along the Ucayali River. We recommend that you bring your binoculars as there will also be opportunities to observe some species of birds, among which the macaws stand out, as well as a spectacular sundown. Depending on how the evening progresses, you will be able to watch nocturnal wildlife on the Dorado River, especially the caimans. Sometimes, our guides attempt to capture some of these ancient reptiles and you will have the opportunity to take photos. Return to the M/V Aria for dinner.
Overnight: M/V Aria (B, L, D)
Day 4: Birthplace of the Amazon | Puerto Miguel Village | Nauta Cano
This morning, the M/V Aria skirts the edges of the vast Pacaya-Samiria Reserve, a flooded forest covering five million acres at the headwaters of the Amazon basin. Rise early and be on your skiffs at 8:00 a.m. to view one of the great spectacles of the Southern Hemisphere: the sun rising over the birthplace of the Amazon River. Here—where the union of two major tributaries, the Ucayali and the Marañon, form the world’s greatest waterway—nature is at its most dramatic. Your dawn excursion will be accompanied by abundant bird song, as you glide in small boats past river banks populated by large-billed terns, laughing falcons, gray tanagers, sandpipers, five kinds of parakeets, the exotic short-tailed parrot, and dozens of other birds.
We will travel by skiff to Puerto Miguel native village, where the local people will extend you a very warm welcome. With your guide acting as interpreter, you can talk with them about their way of life along the river. And of course, no one has to interpret the kids’ bright smiles. It is also a wonderful opportunity to buy small handicrafts. On the way back to the M/V Aria, we will navigate on a small connector canal between the Ucayali and Marañon Rivers, where you will have a chance to see the world’s largest aquatic plant, the giant water lilies or “Victoria Regias.” Have your cameras at the ready. Share a farewell last lunch with your fellow passengers who have taken the three-night journey.
Nauta Caño is also part of the Pacaya Samiria Reserve. It is known as the mirrored forest, due to its glistening black water lagoons. Here you will enjoy observing different species, such as: toucans, parrots, macaws, iguanas, and more. On the way back to the M/V Aria you will see a glorious sunset reflected in the waters of the mirrored forest.
Return to the M/V Aria for dinner. Meet new passengers who have signed on for the four-night trip, and enjoy your gourmet meal as we start our journey along the Ucayali River.
Overnight: M/V Aria (B, L, D)
Day 5: Maranon River | Choroyacu | San Pedro de Tipishca | Pacaya Samira National Reserve
This morning we will board the skiffs to explore part of the vast Amazon flooded forest. Your guides will tell you about the rainforest and its dynamic life, as we explore what scientists call a “gallery forest,” because of its narrow vegetation, creating a tunnel of leaves. As we float through this tunnel, it is easy to spot parrots, macaws, and fluffy monk saki monkeys, very close to the skiff. Return to the M/V Aria for lunch.
On this afternoon walk, your guides will introduce you to native people doing subsistence farming, and will tell you how they learned to cultivate wild plants and trees to earn farm income. As your adventure takes you deep into the primary forest, your guides will also show you the wealth of fruit trees and medicinal plants hidden in the jungle – and will reveal some of the plants’ secrets. Return to the M/V Aria dinner.
Overnight: M/V Aria (B, L, D)
Day 6: Tacsha River | Pacaya Samira | San Martin de Tipischa
Today you can choose between two options:
Option 1: Full-day excursion to Primary forest with a Picnic Lunch
This morning you will board your skiff to go deep into the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve, along the Samiria River. Along the route, we will have the opportunity to see various species of monkey, such as howler monkeys, squirrel monkeys, saddleback tamarin monkeys and many bird species such as blue, yellow and scarlet macaws as well as toucans and some species of river hawks. We will arrive at the PV2 Tacsha watchpost, where we will follow a path deep into the rainforest. Enjoy a generous picnic lunch, before we begin our journey back to our vessel. Arrive at the M/V Aria.
Option 2: Guided Jungle Walk/Siesta/Monkey and Dolphin Expedition
This morning your Naturalist Guide will tell you all about sustainable resource management projects in Amazonia, and will take you to one of these projects, where villagers are planting palms to obtain oil. Your Guide may also show you the artificial nests created on the sand to protect turtle eggs. Then we will take you deep into the jungle, where you will encounter wildlife and learn first-hand about the important medicinal value of many jungle plants. We will also show you famous Kapok Trees (ceiba pentandra), the tallest trees in the Amazon Basin. Return to the M/V Aria for lunch, followed by a siesta.
In this late afternoon skiff excursion, keep your eyes directed toward the jungle canopy, where you can spot at least several kinds of primates—some of the 13 species of monkeys resident in the National Reserve. Perhaps you will catch a glimpse of tamarins and dusky titi monkeys, as well as pigmy marmoset monkeys. Watch for alligators, and keep your binoculars at the ready, as you are likely to see more than 200 species of birds. As the sun sets and our searchlight comes on, keep your eyes out for caimans, tree boas, tarantulas, and frogs. Return to the M/V Aria.
Overnight: M/V Aria (B, L, D)
Day 7: Yanayaquillo | Tahuayo | Charo Lake
Back on the river as the sun rises, you will see a treasure trove of wildlife, including parrots, macaws, toucans, and many kinds of monkeys—as well as some “surprise” species that you have never seen before. Enjoy a “bag breakfast” of light sandwiches and fresh juice. Since we will stop near a popular dolphin feeding spot, you will see quite a show as you enjoy your meal. Return to the M/V Aria for lunch.As our journey nears its end, your luxurious home away from home starts to sail back down the river toward Iquitos. It isn’t over yet however. A new adventure awaits you this afternoon.
This afternoon, we will travel to this splendid “hot spot” lake, where you will be certain to catch some of the more than 3,000 species of tropical fish that live in the Amazon basin. Our key focus will be on piranhas, those small, sharp-teethed carnivorous fish with a big reputation for being scary. Catching one will make for great cocktail conversation back home. Return to the M/V Aria.
Once we are back onboard, the ship will continue its journey down stream, sailing toward Iquitos through the night. Leaving the peace and beauty of the jungle behind, we will enjoy our final dinner together, swapping stories about the wonderful experiences shared on the river.
Leaving the peace and beauty of the jungle behind, we will enjoy our final dinner together, swapping stories about the wonderful experiences shared on the river. After dinner, your guides will introduce some of the crew members that you have not yet met, but who have been busy with the “behind the scenes” work that has helped to create a seamless experience.
Overnight: M/V Aria (B, L, D)
Day 8: City Tour of Iquitos | Fly to Lima
The excursions today depend on the level of the river. Weather and time permitting, this will be the last opportunity to see how people live along the Amazon—by floating in skiffs through the lively riverside community of Belen, in Iquitos. Here, where the houses and shops actually float on the river during some months, you will see the bustling food market for the entire Peruvian Amazon. All local inhabitants throughout the region sell and purchase goods here. Return to the M/V Aria. Sadly, it’s time to finish packing. Please leave your packed suitcases in your suite for pickup before going to lunch.
Your afternoon in the remote city of Iquitos, accessible only by river or air, will not disappoint. This bustling town, complete with a house built by Gustave Eiffel, was once a rich center of the rubber industry. Before we head for the airport, we will take you to visit the Manatee Rescue Center, where biologists and volunteers care for endangered Amazon manatees that conservation authorities have seized from local people, including fishermen. Biologists will give a presentation about the project and its efforts to help these helpless mammals. You will also see how the manatees are cared for and are prepared for re-introduction into their natural habitat. Finally, we will stop at the San Juan Amazonian Indian Market, for a last chance to shop for local crafts.
Your guides will help you with check-in, and will stay with you until you have boarded your flight back to Lima.
- Accommodations based on double occupancy.
- All activities, transfers, and entrance fees as per itinerary.
- Most meals.
- International round-trip airfare to Lima. (please ask for a quote)
- Fees for passport and travel insurance.