The Amazon rainforest may seem like an odd place for a five-star vacation, but luxury travelers can now access Amazonia’s wild and biodiverse expanses in ultra comfort thanks to Aqua Expeditions. Each week, sumptuous sister ships Aqua Amazon and Aria Amazon (pictured below) transport 24 and 32 inquisitive adventurers, respectively, along the waterways of the Peruvian Amazon on three-, four- and seven-day sojourns.
As with the world’s most exclusive small cruises, these three-story vessels offer top-of-the-line creature comforts, immaculate accommodations, stellar service and the cuisine of a celebrity chef (Peru’s Pedro Miguel Schiaffino). And similar to the concept of a top-notch African safari, twice-daily excursions focus on priceless, interactive wildlife and community experiences.
Onboard, glass and steel exteriors mix with hard woods to create an eye-catching vessel as envisioned by Peruvian architect Jordi Puig. Each cabin flaunts a floor-to-ceiling panoramic glass wall offering a front-row seat to real-life Discovery Channel scenes (in the comfort of high thread counts and heavenly beds, of course). The communal rooftop level with a library lounge, a stylish bar and a sundeck (as well as a plunge pool on the Aria), surfaces as the social hub, where fellow jet-setters gather for lectures, quiet reads, libations or conversation, depending on the time of day.
Shortly after setting sail from the jungle city of Iquitos or Nauta, the sights and sounds of the Amazon ambush the senses, fostering a palpable excitement that lasts throughout the peregrination. Sloths and squirrel monkeys ham it up for the camera atop Cecropia trees, scarlet macaws light up the sky and sacred pink river dolphins splash around the tannin-rich waters. Exploration via small skiffs permits intimate interaction with the rainforests’ more elusive creatures. The ships’ expert guides escort guests through local villages for enlightening afternoons of cultural interaction. Later, they impart the age-old ways of piranha fishing—often a highlight for the men, who long for a photo with a large, toothy catch.
Scenes from the experiential voyage of the Aria Amazon through the Peruvian jungle.
The Amazon River.
A Bora villager in a dugout canoe.
Picturesque views from a suite aboard the Aria Amazon.