Cattleya River Cruise

Visiting the great Amazon River is on the to-do list of many South American travelers and it’s not all that hard to combine this epic experience with a visit to other spots in Peru.

small ship cruise AmazonWe’ve published detailed reviews and tour stories about exploring the Amazon jungle region of Peru while staying at a jungle lodge, and it’s a special experience to sleep in the rainforest surrounded by wild animals. Many high-end travelers would prefer the less taxing method of cruising down the river and its tributaries on a boat instead.

The Cattleya Riverboat Journey offers a very intimate option for moving from place to place and sleeping on the water. You’ve got outdoor decks, an indoor lounge, and an enclosed dining room. At night you sleep in a comfortable cabin where you probably won’t have to chase off any creatures with six or eight legs. There are just four passenger cabins on this ship though, for a maximum of 10 guests when a child is crashing on a fold-out bed in two of them. (This compares to 16 cabins on the Aria ship run by Aqua Expeditions.)

There are walks into forested areas with a guide, but small launches can take guests into watery areas you can’t reach by foot, for river dolphins and other wildlife. Here’s a short video tour:

This isn’t the only upscale Amazon riverboat plying these waters, but it’s smaller than the others we’ve written about and it has another unique thing going for it: one of the owners is along on every cruise. So you’re not dealing with an absentee owner and a guest manager who may be gone next month. There’s a crew of eight plus two guides, making sure every passenger gets personal attention in the ship and out on excursions.

There’s a four-day itinerary and a five-day one, but both include hikes in the into the Pacaya-Samiria reserve. This is the largest wetland reserve in the world and home to more than 500 species of birds, more than 130 species of reptiles and amphibians, and hundreds of mammals and primates. All itineraries start and end in Iquitos, reached by several airlines including LAN Peru.

See more info on the Cattleya Amazon Cruises site or see detailed itineraries at the Latin Trails website.