Whenever you think of the most popular destinations in the world, the Amazon rainforest is bound to pop up in your mind. As the world’s largest tropical rainforest and its most biodiverse region, the Amazonia has a special place in the Earth’s ecosystem. This allows the Amazon to welcome thousands of tourists to its magnificent lands, and lets them take home unforgettable memories of the endemic flora and fauna that the rainforest has to offer.
But the Amazon rainforest wouldn’t hold this stature if it wasn’t for the heart of its natural formation: the Amazon river.
Being the world’s largest water basin, the Amazon river flows across 2.67 million square miles. Sporting a length of 3,977 miles, it’s also the second largest river in the world. But most importantly, the Amazon river holds great importance in making Amazonia such a rich place for some of the world’s most glorious flora and fauna.
Since the Amazon drainage covers over 35 percent of South America, it is a wondrous sight to behold for many. The wildlife that lives within its waters and across the river banks only adds to this status. But that’s not all. Natural phenomena such as the Meeting of Waters, where two differently-colored rivers meet but don’t mix, enhance the Amazon river’s distinction as a place you need to see at least once in your life.
So what is the best way to actually see the Amazon river? Is it through day tours? Is it by traveling through the forest? Is it flying through a helicopter? Actually… it is none of that.
It is through a cruise.
Why is a Cruise the Best Way to See the Amazon River?
According to the World Wildlife Fund, the Amazon rainforest is home to 1 in 10 known species on Earth. A major part of this special distinction comes from the Amazon river, which boasts of being home to approximately 3,000 fish species by itself.
If you think that’s impressive, then you will also appreciate that through the Amazon rainforest, over 2,000 new species of flora and fauna have been discovered in the past 20 years alone. Once again, it is due to the support of the Amazon river, which acts as the lifeblood of the lush green lands of the tropical rainforest.
With so much to see and so much to take in, a day trip or a short guided tour is not enough to fully explore what the Amazon river has to offer. However, careful expedition through a cruise lets you discover all the details that the river holds in store for its visitors.
Where a day trip consists of just a few hours, a cruise spans across days. Where a short tour ends before the sunset, a cruise lets you experience the river through day and night. And where a helicopter gives you a bird’s eye view of what’s going at the surface of the river, a cruise allows you to be one and the same with the water running under it.
That gives you an overview of why a cruise is the best way to see the Amazon river. But if you need a deeper understanding behind this perspective, then looking into a few core reasons can help you form an objective view of your own.
To help you make an informed decision, here’s why you should go with a cruise to take in the full experience of the Amazon river.
It Helps You Travel With the River
Day trips, small excursions, and flying tours either give you a short time or allow no interaction with the Amazon river. These modes of traveling along the river bank, only getting a couple of hours on a small boat, or hovering over the magnificent body of water causes an unmistakable disconnect between you and the river itself. Simply put, seeing the river from a distance or through short journeys doesn’t give you the engaging experience that you need out of your trip to the Amazon.
That’s not all. Not being able to travel along the major parts of the river also prevents you from experiencing what it has to offer in its entirety. Taking narrow trips to very selective parts of the river strips you of the joy to take in everything at your own pace. As a result, you are left with a hasty trip that doesn’t provide you with the memories you expected out of your Amazon vacation.
On the other hand, taking a cruise lets you experience the river up close. Instead of following the river in restricted areas, you are able to literally travel with it. In contrast to seeing the river from a distance, you are allowed to go wherever it takes you. And rather than rushing to end your trip, you can complete it with the peace of mind you need to really enjoy your vacation.
In a nutshell, a cruise allows you to etch every corner, every stream, and every turn to your memory. From sight to touch, your senses let you take in the trip as an immersive experience, which leaves you feeling elated with your trip to this one of a kind region.
It Allows You to Appreciate What the River Brings to Life
When you take a cruise to the Amazon river, you are not only allowed to flow through its stream. You are also able to see what it really holds within it.
From pink dolphins to endemic piranhas, and from tropical fish to black caimans, you are able to see all the magnificent creatures that the body of water brings to life. Each twist and turn of the river gives you the opportunity to spot wonderful aquatic fauna that you may not see anywhere else in the world, which makes for a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Apart from the marine life that lives beneath the surface of the water, you are also able to witness the creatures that live along and beyond the river bank. Whether you are looking for endemic sloths or exotic jaguars, unique primates or fascinating reptiles, your Amazon river cruise will provide you with a safe and easy way to witness them all.
It’s because Amazon river cruises combine the best of both worlds. Due to the way these trips are designed, they do not only let you stay close to the water, but also give you the opportunity to go beyond the river. This is all thanks to their day trips and excursions, which provide you with an engaging and unique experience that can’t be matched by short or limited tours.
In addition to sailing along the waters that let you see endemic and wonderful wildlife in its natural habitat, you are also able to take in the sights of the splendid flora that is unique to the Amazon rainforest. With specialized guides, Amazon river cruises allow you to learn more about each of these impressive plants. This lets you have a greater understanding of the larger Amazon ecosystem and its effects on the one of a kind region.
It Lets You Understand What the River Means to the Locals
Taking a single day trip gives you very limited time to explore the river and the lands around it. Since the hours to your planned activities are calculated to the last minute, you are often unable to do all the things that would allow you to get the most out of your trip. Meeting the locals is one of them.
Since the Amazon has retained most of its natural lands to this day, it still acts as home to various groups of indigenous peoples. These groups are known for their connection to the land, its wildlife, and its ecosystem. Since these indigenous peoples have been in the Amazon for thousands of years, they see the region from a deeper perspective.
If you want to appreciate the Amazon river and learn about its surrounding lands beyond the surface level, meeting these indigienous groups is absolutely essential. But given that most of these groups live deep within the forest, you are unable to explore this part of your Amazon river trip without having much time on your hands.
That’s where a cruise comes to help you out.
Since Amazon river cruises are focused on providing you with a 360 degree experience of the region, most of them make the meetings with indigenous peoples a highlight of their itinerary. As these cruises are run by naturalist guides who respect the locals, their culture, and their socialization preferences, you can rest assured that you are only meeting those groups who feel comfortable in interacting with tourists. As a result, you are able to learn more about the Amazon river and the Rainforest from people who have a profound bond with the region, and who have no issues in educating tourists from other countries.
If you are one to appreciate the value of interacting with locals during foreign trips, this experience will definitely give your adventure the sense of meaning that you are looking for. In addition to helping you learn more about Amazonia, it will also allow you to understand the region’s importance in the larger history and health of the planet.
It Gives You the Chance to Interact With the River
By now, it is quite clear that the Amazon river is more than just a channel of transportation. In many ways, it is the heart and soul of the Amazonia, and the many forms of life that the basin region within itself.
Seeing this importance of the body of water, you can understand how crucial it is for you to experience all that the river has to offer. And what better way is there to ensure that than interacting with the river itself?
If you take an Amazon river cruise, you are able to indulge in many activities that let you explore the glorious basin to the hilt. By choosing the right cruise, you can experience short trips off of your luxury boat that are meant to give you an up and close look at the river.
These activities include but are not limited to:
- Fishing in approved spots.
- Taking specially designed boat rides.
- Kayaking in the beautiful waters.
- Swimming with the legendary pink dolphins.
- Seeing unique natural phenomena that is exclusive to the Amazon river.
Since the list of activities varies from cruise to cruise, it’s usual to see different providers adding more ways to interact with the river. Depending upon the type and extent of your Amazon cruise, you might also be able to do all of these activities in a single trip. This way, you are able to do more than just sail along the stream of the Amazon basin (which is pretty great in itself).
It Lets You Travel in Comfort
Embarking on short boat trips and hiking along the river bank is great in small doses. But when your trip takes more than a few hours, it starts weighing down on you. If you are taking an Amazon trip that consists of a few days, then roughing it may lose its charm within the first couple of days. In order to take in all of what the region has to offer, you need to be well rested, well fed, and well taken care of. An Amazon cruise takes care of all of those requirements with quite some ease.
Since Amazon river cruises are built to host you for at least a few days at a time, they are well equipped with all the amenities that you need during a visit to the rainforest. From a comfortable bed to a modern bathroom, and from a relaxing deck to a delicious assortment of local foods, you are able to enjoy a home away from home even as you sail across the legendary waters of the Amazon.
This level of comfort ensures that your trip is stress-free from all perspectives. As you don’t have to think about abandoning your complete lifestyle to explore nature for a few hours, you are able to experience the Amazon rainforest and river without any worries.
Given that most Amazon cruises focus on a luxury experience while also providing you with the opportunity to connect with the surrounding flora and fauna, you are able to find the right balance in most options. In case you are looking for an elevated level of luxury, then you can also book special cruises that are known for delivering a five-star experience in the middle of the Amazonia.
As a result, you don’t have to complete your vacation feeling stressed and yearning for the comfort of your home. Instead, you can enjoy your trip knowing that even while you are hiking in the forest, you will be able to rest comfortably in your cabin at the end of every day.
How to Book a Cruise to the Amazon?
If you are looking to get the most out of your Amazon trip, then booking a cruise will seem like a no brainer by now. Thankfully, the process of embarking on a cruise is as simple as it can get. It is all due to the many specialized tour and cruise companies that offer specialized journeys to the heart of the Amazon.
The availability of these options allows you to shop around and compare the features, itineraries and price points of various cruises side by side. As a result, you are able to see exactly what type of experience you can enjoy through your cruise, and how much will you need to pay for it. From there, you can decide exactly which cruise fits your ideal Amazon experience and your travel budget.