Cruises are a great way to enjoy the Amazon River, as instead of being kept in one rainforest area, you are able to travel overnight to an entirely new section of rainforest on the lookout for Amazon wildlife. The best cruises to experience the river and see as much wildlife as possible are expedition cruises, which take you out on guided forest excursions in small motorised skiffs, forest walks, and canoes or kayaks to find Amazon Rainforest animals and plants. These cruises focus on specific waterways or protected areas and set off from an Amazon port then return to the same port after your expedition. To make things easier for you, we have selected the best Amazon River wildlife cruises to help you make the most of your time on this remarkable river.
Ecuador is home to some of the tributaries that form the mighty Amazon River and the far western section of Amazon Rainforest. This is where the Amazon begins. The western section of Ecuador and Peru contains the highest amount of animals and plants and is the perfect choice for a wildlife cruise. It is not surprising to find that Peru and Ecuador’s section of Amazon is also where you can find some of the rainforest’s best cruises.
The highlight of Ecuador’s Amazon Rainforest is the Yasuni National Park, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve containing a record breaking number of animals and plants. The protected area is home to parrot clay licks, a novelty in the northern Amazon, canopy towers to gaze out over Amazonia, and an incredible diversity of wildlife as testified by the area’s healthy population of keystone species like jaguar and harpy eagle.
The Manatee Amazon Cruise is a fantastic way to see the rainforest in comfort. You will spend the days exploring the forest with your rainforest guide on skiffs then return to the comfort of the Manatee for meals and resting, ready to begin your next day exploring the rainforest to find Amazon River wildlife.
The alternative for the park is Manatee’s sister vessel, the Anakonda Amazon Cruise, the only luxury cruise vessel in Ecuador’s Amazon. The Anakonda provides a similar experience to the Manatee but with luxury comfort and service.
The favorite animals to spot aboard these cruises are the pink river dolphins, the different varieties of monkeys, and the abundance of colorful birds. You will visit the Yasuni parrot clay lick, enjoy spotting wildlife from the Amazon canopy towers, visit a regional market, and enjoy scouting the waterways for a wide variety of Amazon Rainforest animals and plants.
Peru is another great place for an Amazon River river cruise and is where the Amazon River officially begins. The gateway to Peru’s Amazon for Amazon River cruises is Iquitos, the largest city in the world unreachable by road.
The highlight of Peru’s Amazon Rainforest for river cruises is the renowned Pacaya Samiria National Reserve, the second largest protected area in Peru. The Pacaya Samiria is a beautiful protected area of flooded tropical forest, making it a great place for a wildlife cruise. Home to an abundance of monkeys, toucans, parrots, fascinating reptiles, dolphins, and a healthy population of large predators like jaguar, the Pacaya has a few excellent cruises to find impressive wildlife.
Specifically, the Pacaya is a great place for a luxury cruise, as the combination of the beautiful Pacaya Samiria Reserve and abundant Amazon animals, while enjoying luxurious comfort, gourmet food, and service is a hard experience to beat for nature lovers.
We have selected three of the best luxury cruise experiences in the Pacaya Samiria for you to truly make the most of your time in Amazonia. Starting with the Delfin II, you will cruise the Amazon River and travel deep into the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve to find many different animals. You will explore the forest on comfortable skiffs, rainforest walks (dependent on season), and have the option of kayaking the waterways. Your expert guide will help you spot different wildlife, such as abundant monkeys. Enjoy finding howler monkeys, capuchins, squirrel monkeys, sakis, marmosets and tamarins, plus an overwhelming number of interesting birds. For a preview of the adventure, we filmed a short video of the Delfin II Cruise experience below.
The Delfin II is fitted with 4 very spacious master suites at the front of the vessel and 14 large guest suites throughout. Relax on luxury linens watching the rainforest from your large suite-picture-window and pamper yourself with organic beauty and shower products in the ensuite. After morning excursions to find wildlife, return to the vessel for gourmet cuisine with white glove service and to talk about what you have seen in the rainforest. Then, for relaxing in the evenings, the Delfin II is equipped with a bar on the observation deck, a lounge and lecture room, small gym, and a masseuse to help you relax in the rainforest.
For another taste of luxury, and offering a longer experience in the Pacaya Samiria Reserve of up to 8 days, you can choose the Aria Amazon Cruise. The Aria Amazon Cruise provides a spacious and indulgent interior and a total of 16 ensuite cabins. Enjoy the floor-to-ceiling windows throughout the vessel to make sure you stay connected to the rainforest. These also make sure you don’t miss any interesting rainforest sights.
The suites are fitted with California king size bed (which can be separated into two twin beds), 100% Peruvian cotton luxury linen, air conditioning, polished timber flooring and a wall of floor to ceiling glass facing the Amazon River. Their ensuite bathrooms are then fitted with rain shower and organic bath amenities, incorporating the latest eco-sensitive technology. After excursions to find fantastic animals and plants of the Pacaya Samiria, you will return to the Aria to enjoy 5 star Peruvian cuisine.
The Aria Amazon CruiseIquitos, Peru
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The Delfin I is perhaps the most exclusive of the Amazon River luxury cruises. With only 4 oversized suites, all with private panoramic terraces, two of these offer a private whirlpool for an added treat. You are then spoiled with floor-to-ceiling windows throughout the vessel, gourmet cuisine, and excellent wildlife tours to find Amazon wildlife of the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve.
This is the more exclusive and more spacious sister ship of the Delfin II mentioned above. Offering high class service, gourmet cuisine, and luxurious comfort, if you would like the ultimate treat of Amazon Rainforest tours, then look no further than the Delfin I.
Over the other side of the Amazon Rainforest, the gateway city for the Brazilian Amazon is Manaus, which is also the largest city in Amazonia and an industrial hub for the country. This is a port of the Amazon River from where you can tour the Amazon on various river cruises and tours.
From Manaus, you can cruise through the Anavilhanas National Park and visit surrounding Amazon Rainforest of the Rio Negro, the largest tributary of the Amazon River. Here you will scout for various animals and plants of the Brazilian Amazon and our selection for this part of Amazonia is the Tucano Cruise. On 4 or 6 night cruises, aboard the award-winning Tucano Cruise you will head out to explore the rainforest on rainforest walks and boat trips. You also have the option of kayaking tours to help you explore this vast forest and its waterways.