Have you ever been to a place so isolated there is no road in or out? I’m not talking about an island paradise below the equator, but a spot off the grid and so remote it’s known as the largest city in the world you can only get to by air or boat. Where a jungle capital centre thrives and sits adjacent to a boisterous, floating market selling herbal remedies you can’t pronounce and exotic ingredients you’ve never seen before. This place that represents such a confluence of rivers and lifestyles is called Iquitos. This is where my adventure cruising Peru’s Amazon begins on what many consider the largest river in the world.
Our guide lays his hand over the tree trunk and it is immediately covered with hundreds of racing termites. Crawling up and down his arm, the movement sends a chill down my spine. Jairo moves his body away, rubs the insects over his skin, and then brushes off the remains. With a bit of a sly smile, he shares, “termites make an excellent natural mosquito repellent”.
Luxury Cruising Peru’s Amazon River
This voyage in Peru with AdventureSmith Explorations is a trip to experience the authentic and unexpected. As part of their continuing commitment to responsible tourism, they work closely in partnership with the communities they visit. The indigenous people have survived for many centuries in the environment. This outreach supports the infrastructure of the local villages to keep them self-sustainable as they move into the future.
I have wanted to visit the Amazon since reading the harrowing account written by Theodore Roosevelt of his journey down an Amazon tributary. The River of Doubt changed the map of the western world forever. This enormous body of water snaked with a mesmerizing and terrifying appeal pulling me in its direction.
Once aboard, the 169-foot Delfin III feels like the perfect size to explore in luxury and comfort. It’s doubtful the small ship could be much further from the poison arrows and excruciating physicality of Roosevelt’s travels. The boat is equipped with fine linens, all-natural bath amenities and climate-controlled suites offering panoramic views with their floor to ceiling windows. Accents of artisan crafts and textiles establish a sense of place. Nature is everywhere, both inside and out.
The well-appointed Canopy Lounge offers a full bar with a speciality pisco sour seemingly on tap 24/7. Naturalists, a Peruvian cooking class and cultural performances enhance the nightly experience. A plunge pool overlooking the Amazon is a perfect spot to refresh after a day in the rainforest. The deck surrounding the hot tub provides an ideal platform for yoga mats. Should you need more physical activity, there is a small gym on board as well. Finally, could there be anything more relaxing than watching the river drift by during a deep tissue massage in the spa?
Fresh seafood, local fruits and vegetables enhance a creative menu featuring Peruvian dishes presented with an inventive flair. Bread is baked daily, often in the whimsical shape of an indigenous animal. A selection of wine from South America and Peru is available along with freshly pressed juices. Banana leaves creatively wrap breakfast aboard the skiff during a sunrise departure for adventure. The food is world-class and very pleasing to the senses. Eating local is a priority for the company.
Rare birdlife and mammal sightings are part of the daily itinerary. Ten person skiffs take me to explore villages and the offshoots that feed the river. A local shaman blesses the group. Thankfully, she doesn’t offer the jungle hallucinogen-ayahuasca but does have on hand a variety of concoctions loaded with herbs, bark and liquids from the surrounding locale. Pink dolphins swim off the bow and I manage to avoid the piranha both while fishing and taking a dip in the dark, velvety water.
As the final sunset of magenta and periwinkle comes into focus, I know this luxurious once in a lifetime trip is as close as I will ever come to Roosevelt’s The River of Doubt; that was just fine with this modern-day adventurer. She prefers a dose of the finer things with her jungle travels.
The 5-day adventure cruising Peru’s Amazon river is a great add on with a trip to Machu Picchu. The author was hosted by AdventureSmith Explorations during her travel in Peru.
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Alison Abbott is an award winning travel and lifestyle writer with a focus on sustainable shades of green luxury. As the Local Expert for AFAR Media, she is well versed in great food and experiences with a keen sense of place. Alison is the author of travel guides for Westin and Fairmont Hotels, Chase Bank and Visual Travel Tours, as well as a regular contributor with bylines in over 20 different publications. When not exploring off-the-beaten-path destinations, she sings the praises of keeping it local at home and abroad on the website she founded, “Green with Renvy.”