There are few rivers as mythic as the mighty Amazon, which cuts a mostly muddy brown swath through the living green rainforests of South America. Its waters are home to an estimated 3,000 species of fish and its banks are lush with a dizzying array of flora and native fauna. And at 4,000 miles long, it’s bested only by the Nile in length. Cruises along the Peruvian section of the river depart from Iquitos, Peru, and cruising this fabled waterway and its many tributaries is a genuine — and spectacular — adventure.
What We Love
The Sunsets: You know how dusk sometimes gets a bit psychedelic? Well, while on the Amazon, get ready to groove to a palette of tropical tangerine, magical magenta, and deep purple as nature’s nightly show is reflected in the river in the most magnificent way.
Fishing for Piranha: If you’d love to tell your friends you tried something a little offbeat, take your river guide up on his offer to cast a line for the Amazon’s most carnivorous fish. Just don’t try to unhook it yourself after you catch one!
Best Known For
Wildlife in the Trees: The banks of the Amazon River and its many tributaries teem with birds of every feather as well as mammals and reptiles — great and small. There are adorable capuchin monkeys and wee tree frogs, lazy three-toed sloths, and rare pink dolphins. There are plenty of snakes, too, including boas and anacondas.
Indigenous Villages: Some cruise companies make it a point to visit local villages along their river routes and encourage passengers to bring school supplies and toiletries (soaps and shampoos) to leave with the community.
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Who It's Best For
Birders: Spotting everything from a black-faced ibis to a white-faced whistling duck is a snap — Peru has more than 1,700 species of birds.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
Bring Bug Spray: Regularly throughout the day and with a vengeance as the sun sets, the mosquitoes and other flying pests of the Amazon jungle will swarm, bite, and, very possibly, make you miserable.
Donna Heiderstadt is a New York-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has also written for Coastal Living and Islands.