Iquitos is one of the Amazon’s first choices if you’re looking for an Amazon Cruise and the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve is a perfect option if you’re looking for a little luxury on the river.
The top choices for your luxury Cruise into the Pacaya Samiria Reserve are either the Aria Amazon Cruise, Zafiro Amazon Cruise, Delfin I, Delfin II, or Delfin III Cruise. We will provide a brief summary of these cruise options with information about the wildlife-filled reserve of the Pacaya Samiria and what makes this section of Amazonia so special.
First off, an intro to the Pacaya Samiria…
The Pacaya Samiria National Reserve is a protected area of Amazon Rainforest close to the city of Iquitos in the Loreto region of northern Peru. Visiting the reserve is one of the top things to do in Iquitos and the Pacaya Reserve protects around 2,080,000 hectares of rainforest and Amazon wildlife.
Wildlife living in the Pacaya Samiria Reserve include giant fish named Arapaima (weighing up to 100 kg), river dolphins, black caiman, and manatees, which you have a chance to see while cruising the reserve’s reflective, nutrient-rich waters. While aboard the following luxury cruises, you will see fascinating Pacaya Samiria animals and plants.
To make sure you see wildlife, you will head out with highly trained naturalist guides to photograph and watch some of the more elusive Amazonian animals. In the trees, enjoy seeing sloths clinging to the branches, owl-monkeys watching from the safety of their hides, and colorful parrots flying overhead. You may even see some toucans dueling high in the trees.
Within the reserve, you can find 132 different mammals, such as howler monkeys, squirrel Monkeys, capuchin monkeys, monk saki monkeys, tamanduas, capybara, and famous jaguar. The reserve also contains 150 different amphibians and reptiles, and over 450 different birds (25% of all Peruvian species).
The Aria Expedition Cruise Experience
A fantastic way to cruise the Amazon in style is aboard the Aria Amazon Cruise. The vessel was custom designed by one of Peru’s leading architects for guests to explore the Amazon in utmost comfort. The Aria Amazon Cruise includes 16 over-sized suites (250 square feet).
Your suites aboard the Aria Amazon Cruise are fitted with floor-to-ceiling windows, so you don’t miss anything interesting from the surrounding rainforest, even while relaxing on your California king size bed with luxurious linens. Guided excursions aboard the Aria Amazon Cruise will take you down the rainforest waterways on modern skiffs scouting for forest life.
The Zafiro Amazon Cruise
The Zafiro Amazon Cruise is one of the newest luxury cruises on the Amazon River. Enjoy fantastic relaxation areas, large suites with large picture windows, a jacuzzi, and excellent small-group guided expeditions to explore the Amazon Rainforest. The Zafiro is the luxurious sister vessel of the adventure category cruise, La Perla.
Aboard the Zafiro, you will explore the rivers of the Amazon, Ucayali, and Pacaya to find some fantastic animals and plants. There are 3 different length itineraries you can choose, including the 4-day, 5-day, and 8-day cruise options.
The Delfin Cruise Experience
The three vessels in Delfin’s Luxury Cruise fleet include the Delfin I, with its 4 over-sized suites, the Delfin II, with 4 master-suites offering wide views of the rainforest and 10 suites with large windows and elegant interiors. Both of these vessels feature luxury linens, organic shower products and a gourmet dining experience. There is then the Delfin III, which offers one of the most economical luxury Amazon River cruises.
While aboard the Delfin I, Delfin II or Delfin III, you will head out each day scouting for wildlife. The activities vary each day and will include morning and afternoon excursions, a night excursion to find caiman, talks on what we have seen in the rainforest and walks to find the Amazon’s poison dart frogs.
While either relaxing in your private whirl-pool of the highly exclusive Delfin I or enjoying the 180° windows of the Delfin II master suites, you can spot colorful birds from the comfort of the vessel.
The Delfin III Experience
Designed specifically for this environment, the Delfin III offers one of the most affordable luxury cruises from Iquitos. There are a range of suites on offers, including the oversized and luxurious Owner’s Suite on the second deck. Enjoy floor-to-ceiling windows throughout the vessel to keep you connected to this incredible environment.
The Pacaya Flooded Forest
Flooding is a normal part of life in this section of forest as water regularly claims the land and allows fish, usually restricted to the Pacaya’s tributaries, to swim between the forest trees.
This is of use to different Amazon plants like Camu Camu, a citrus super-food now exported worldwide for its range of health benefits. Camu camu is a berry-like fruit which is eaten and dispersed by fish. The Pacaya is home to a community project where camu camu is sustainably harvested from the reserve and taken to market in nearby Iquitos.
The high water season (November to May) is a great time to visit if your interest is birds and fish, but also if you fancy seeing flowers and fruiting plants. This is also the best season for exploration as otherwise inaccessible areas of Amazonia are opened up with new waterways. The low water season (June to October) is a favored time to visit is you want to spend more time taking walks through the rainforest.
Dates of Departure
One of the most important things to check is the cruise dates of departure. You can find this information by sending the cruise an availability request on the luxury cruise pages above for the Delfin I, Delfin II, Delfin III, Zafiro Amazon Cruise, and the Aria Amazon Cruise (all departing from Iquitos, Peru).
The Pacaya & Conservation
Although this is a national reserve and not a national park – the main difference being people are allowed to live inside the reserve and to sustainably harvest natural products – the local communities are passionate about conservation and are actively involved in conservation programs.
For example, taricaya turtles are being reintroduced to the reserve by the local communities in a bid to restore their number from the over-harvesting of the past. This is mirroring the success of the Arapaima population, which is another project of the Pacaya Samiria. The communities brought the giant fish back from the brink of local extinction.