An Amazon river small ship cruise is possibly one of the most rewarding nature expedition in the world. Amazonia or the Amazon Jungle is Earth’s largest rainforest and it covers some 40% of South America across nine countries. A voyage into this jungle is only possible by boat on the mythical Amazon River. Also known as Rio Amazonas, this great waterway originates from the foothills of the Andes mountains in Peru and flows east on a 4,000 mile (6,400 km) course towards the Atlantic Ocean.
Cruises and river expeditions usually start within and explore two main areas of the Amazon region: the Brazilian section near Manaus & the Peruvian section near Iquitos. While the landscapes and wildlife are similar, there are important differences among the regions. The Brazilian part of the river is the widest and most developed, with the most boat traffic. Sailings depart from Manaus, a bustling city of more than 2 million, and often include stops in other local communities such as Santarem and Parintins. This means that Brazilian Amazon itineraries often have more emphasis on people and culture than Peruvian or Ecuadorian itineraries, which are very nature-focused. The Peruvian section of the Amazon is quieter and less developed. You will sail out of Iquitos, with a population of about half a million, or the nearby town of Nauta. There are no port stops on these cruises; instead the ships ply the tranquil waters of the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve, allowing passengers off at various points to explore on small skiffs.
• The Pacaya Samiria National Reserve - Spanning more than 5 million acres, the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve is the largest protected flooded forest in the world. Known also as the “mirror forest”, is one of the prime intact swaths of jungle in the Peruvian Amazon and the second largest national reserve in the country.
• Biodiversity - Over one third of all species recorded in the world are found in the Amazon Basin, constituting the largest collection of living plant and animal species on Earth. At least 40,000 plant species, 427 mammals, 1,300 birds, 378 reptiles, more than 400 amphibians and around 3,000 freshwater fishes are known to exist within this giant cradle.
• Local Communities - The Amazon Basin includes a diversity of traditional inhabitants, people who have lived in the rainforest for thousands of years and whose lifestyles and customs are well adapted to this environment. Contrary to popular belief, the daily living of these communities does not significantly harm their home environment. Their work day is mostly occupied by subsistence activities such as fishing, small-scale agriculture, gathering and hunting. Their survival depends on their intimate relationship with their natural surroundings.
• Pink River Dolphins - There are times when life surprises us in different ways and fables become reality in the Amazon. The Amazon and the tributaries hold ancient myths and legends. The Pink Dolphin is believed to have supernatural powers such as that of changing its appearance to that of a charming and handsome young man. They come from the river at night to seduce innocent women living by the shores and then make their way back into the river the next morning as a Pink Dolphin. They are mostly found in slow moving river basins, streams and lakes with their flexible bodies stretching to 8 feet long and weighing up to 400 pounds.
When is the best time of year to travel to the Amazon?
The Amazon basically has 2 seasons: the flooded (from November to May) and the dry season (from June to October). Both offer rich rewards, fabulous sites, and amazing opportunities to view plant and animal life. If seeing the glorious flooded forest and getting close-up looks at lots of birds and mammals (and enjoying a slightly cooler temperature) sounds attractive, then the flooded season might be the best choice. (Remember: Despite its name it only gets about 10% more rain than falls in the dry season). If jungle hikes, seeing exotic migratory birds perch on trees as they pass through Amazonia, still having the chance to see monkeys and other mammals, and going on great fishing expeditions top your list, you might be happier choosing the hotter, less rainy dry season. Perhaps the best solution of all: choose one, and we hope that you will like it so much that you may want to return to experience the other season in the Amazon as well.
The Wild Earth Travel team is your Amazon small ship cruise experts. We offer a large range of different Amazon small ship cruises that also vary in duration. Please feel free to enquire
and let the experienced team here at Wild Earth Travel help you find a small ship cruise or active expedition that suits you.