The town of Iquitos is Peru’s “Gateway to the Amazon”—an isolated outpost accessible only by boat or plane. The city sits right on the banks of the Amazon River, offering easy access for river cruises on this famous South American waterway. Here’s what you need to know about cruising the Amazon River in Peru.
A day cruise only gives you a tiny glimpse of the mighty Amazon River, but it’s a worthwhile excursion, especially for travelers in a time crunch. A typical boat tour will navigate the waters of Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve for the chance to spot pink and gray river dolphins, as well as spider monkeys and colorful macaws in the surrounding jungle. Depending on the itinerary, you might also have time for a stop in Nauta to explore the local market.
Multi-day cruises through the Amazon rain forest can last anywhere from three days to a week. Sleep in jungle lodges or aboard a luxury river vessel. Different itineraries explore different parts of the region, but almost always include wildlife excursions in search of sloths, monkeys, tropical birds, and local flora (like the giant water lily); night walks; and visits to indigenous villages.
Things to Know
- Day cruises on the Amazon from Iquitos last up to 10 hours, while multi-day itineraries range from three to eight days.
- Cruise boats can access more tributaries of the river during the wet season, but the dry season is better for hiking excursions through the jungle.
- Don’t forget to pack insect protection in the form of repellant and protective clothing.
- Most travelers arrive in Iquitos via a connecting flight from Lima.
- Cruises on the Peruvian Amazon either depart from Iquitos or Nauta, about 90 minutes away.