At about 4,000 miles long, the Amazon River is the second longest river in the world and by far the largest river by water flow.
The Amazon River, its tributaries and the Amazon rainforest are an unimaginably vast and diverse region of our planet. At about 4,000 miles long (6,400 kilometers), the Amazon River is the second longest river in the world and by far the largest river by water flow. Countless tributaries, some which would be the largest river on any other continent, drain 2,720,000 square miles, or one fifth of the South American continent, including much of Peru, Ecuador, Colombia and Brazil. This labyrinth of waterways, wilderness, wildlife, rainforest and people is easily explored by small ship or jungle lodge. With so many choices across a wide variety of regions, we have created the following Amazon guide to help travelers find the best Amazon cruise and trip.
Amazon Cruises by Small Ship
As the world’s foremost experts in small ship cruising, we at AdventureSmith Explorations highly suggest our clients consider an Amazon cruise. Amazon small ship river cruises are great vehicles to explore a diversity of rainforest environments and wildlife up close and in comfort. All Amazon River small ship cruises have private bathrooms with air conditioning. Expert guides lead daily canoe excursions and hikes into the Amazon rainforest and remote villages for unparalleled access. All Amazon cruises offer guided daily shore excursions by canoe and on foot to explore nature, culture and wildlife. Some small ships carry kayaks, fishing gear and other tools for exploration and fun. Amazon cruises are able to navigate along the Amazon River exploring a wider diversity of areas and habitats than you will experience from an Amazon lodge. There are Amazon cruises in Peru, Ecuador and Brazil with a variety of small ships ranging from simple base camp boats to luxury riverboats. Consider an Amazon small ship cruise if you are looking for up close exploration to remote regions of the Amazon in comfort and style.
Exploring the Amazon from a jungle lodge offers an intimate exploration of a particular Amazon region. Many Peru Amazon lodges and Ecuador Amazon lodges are associated with a local community of indigenous people, which adds a cultural element to the experience and benefits the local economy. Amazon lodge-based trips include daily excursions such as canoe trips and hikes to explore the rainforest with expert naturalist guides. Many lodges have special access to rainforest canopy walkways, towers and ziplines to access the jungle canopy. While Amazon cruises have fixed departure dates, trips to Amazon lodges can be arranged any day, based on availability, making them a flexible option to add on to a larger itinerary. All Amazon lodges that we work with have private bathrooms and are well screened to keep bugs and critters out. Lodge packages have three- and four-night options. We usually advise that the three-night options are enough for most travelers; however, if you are familiar with rainforest travel and you know you love it, then choose the four-night option. Remember that the longer you spend in the Amazon the better chance you have to view birds and wildlife.
Popular Regions for Amazon Travel
Since the Amazon River and its tributaries span such a vast part of the South American continent, there are distinct regions in which you can plan your travel. Note that every trip is unique, based on the changing seasons. During the high water season, when the water levels of rivers and inlets grow, launch boats are able to venture deeper into the flooded forest. During the low water season, the river recedes to form beautiful sandy river beaches.
Peru Cruises & Lodges
The Peruvian Amazon has two distinct regions: Northern Peru and Southern Peru. Peruvian Amazon cruises are located in Northern Peru on the lower Napo River and accessed from Iquitos, a two hour flight from Lima. Iquitos is a quintessential jungle town, and at 500,000 residents it may be the most populous town in the world not accessible by road. Most Peru Amazon Lodges are located in the Southern Peru rainforest regions of Manu and Tambopata.
Ecuador Cruises & Lodges
Although Ecuador is a small country with seashore on the Pacific Ocean and with the Andes dividing it, almost one third of the country lies in the Amazon basin. The size of the Ecuadorian Amazon basin, called “Oriente,” is around 52,300 square miles, 40 percent of Ecuador’s area yet only 2 percent of the entire Amazon basin. Ecuador Amazon cruises and lodge stays often begin in the port city of El Coca, Ecuador. Coca has daily flights (45 minutes long) from Quito, Ecuador’s capital. Cruises operate year-round, visiting the Orellana and Sucumbio provinces, Yasuni National Park and commonly the Amazon tributary Napo River.
Brazil's Amazon River & Rio Negro
Brazilian Amazon cruises depart from Manaus, Brazil, the Amazon's largest city, and explore the Rio Negro, Rio Jaueperi and the famed Econtra das Aguas, where the brown waters of the Amazon and the black waters of the Rio Negro flow side by side before joining. Cruises in this region explore deep into the world's largest ecological reserve, The Central Amazon Ecological Corridor, and take place in the center of the Brazilian Amazon, within two degrees of the Equator.