Published on July 15th, 2011 | by Mark Chesnut

River Living: An Insider’s Guide to Amazon River Cruises

Floating elegance: The social area aboard the Delfin 1 Amazon cruise ship.


If you want to experience the Amazon River by boat, there may be no better place to begin than Iquitos, the most important jungle city in Peru.  Despite being only accessible by air and boat, this bustling city has been the economic capital of the jungle since the early 19th century, when Europeans first arrived to begin the lucrative rubber trade.

Because of its popularity and relatively long exposure to international travelers and businessmen, Iquitos offers various options for adventurers eager to discover the wonders of the Amazon region.  

Whether you’re looking for a luxury cruise with fine dining and entertainment or a cargo ship offering a place to hang a hammock, you can find a Peru Amazon tour to meet your budget in Iquitos.

Luxury Amazon Cruises
The ultimate luxury ship, the Delfin I, remodeled in 2011, is ideal for those who want to admire the beauty of the Amazon and see the diverse wildlife while spending the nights in queen-size beds with 100% cotton sheets and air conditioning.  

All meals are prepared by the resident gourmet chef, cigars and cocktails are provided in the evening to enjoy with live music and twice-daily excursions allow you to see the wildlife of the Amazon, from pink river dolphins to spectacular orchids and giant butterflies.

Mid-range Amazon Cruises
Travelers looking to experience the best of the Amazon without breaking their budget will enjoy a cruise aboard either the Ayapua or Clavero ships.  

Without sacrificing too many creature comforts, you can ride into the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve. These two riverboats are the only two that are allowed to travel into the reserve, which makes them a great option for wildlife lovers.

Budget Amazon Cruises
If you want to fully experience the Amazon like a local, head to the docks in Iquitos and get in line. The traditional three deck cargo ships making the trip from Iquitos to the Brazilian border only stock the bottom deck with cargo and reserve the upper two decks for passengers.  

Although far from luxurious or even comfortable, these ships deliver goods to the small villages along the route, allowing real glimpses into daily frontier life. 

There are usually some basic cabins available which begin at about $20 per day, and also space to hang a hammock for around $10 per day. You don’t need to reserve spots in advance, as boats advertise on chalk boards where they are headed and when they plan to depart.  

Keep in mind this option is best for travelers who aren’t in a hurry, as boats are often delayed hours, and sometimes days, until worthwhile cargo appears. Bring your own bottled water and check whether food is provided. Even if it is, you might consider bringing your own as chances are the menu won’t be up to much and a bad stomach is the last thing you want on a long and slow boat ride.

This post is sponsored by Latin Discover
Take a look at these Peru travel tours for more destinations and packages. 

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About the Author

The founder and editor of, Mark has more than 15 years of experience as a writer, editor and manager. He's worked with some of the biggest consumer, in-flight and travel trade publishers that cover Latin America.

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