Adventure beckons in the Amazonian rainforest. From zip lining above the forest canopy to jungle trekking, canoeing and fishing for piranhas, exhilarating excursions await during an Amazon River cruise. Here are six to consider.
Spend a night in the jungle
If spending a night deep in the rainforest is on your bucket list, you can tick it off by joining the ‘Amazon Ecopark: a Night in the Jungle’ excursion from Manaus, Brazil, offered by Holland America Line. You’ll stay in the ecopark’s Jungle Lodge, with six miles of jungle trails, savannas and creeks at your disposal and the chance to spot a variety of rare animal and plant species.
You will be taught survival techniques and visit the homes of local residents to learn about their traditions and jungle life. The tour also takes you to Monkey Jungle – a rehabilitation centre where primates can be observed during feeding time. Back at the lodge you’ll get your own taste of Amazonian food, as you dine on local produce prepared by the resident chef.
Enjoy this adventure during Holland America Line’s 32-day Amazon Explorer cruise aboard Volendam, round-trip from Fort Lauderdale. From £4,399pp, departing November 19, 2020 (hollandamerica.com).
Join an expedition
An expedition cruise offered by Brazil Nature Tours aboard the motor yacht Tucano comes with the promise that you’ll visit Amazonian areas rarely visited by anyone else. This includes the Central Amazon Conservation Complex – the largest Amazon reserve (covering more than six million hectares).
This Unesco Natural World Heritage Site is one of the planet’s richest regions in terms of biodiversity. The threatened species protected here include the giant arapaima fish, the Amazonian manatee, the black caiman and two species of river dolphin, and its lakes and channels are home to the largest array of electric fish in the world. The voyage is quite active. You spend most of each day exploring on foot or in the boat’s launches or kayaks scouting for some of the extraordinary creatures found only in this unique environment.
Enjoy this adventure on Brazil Nature Tours’ six-night ‘Voyage to the Heart of the Amazon’ expedition aboard the 18-passenger motor yacht Tucano. From US$3,150pp (£2,396), departing Manaus on Saturdays throughout the year (brazilnaturetours.com).
The Tahuayo Lodge Canopy Zipline near Iquitos, Peru, is the longest system in the Amazon Rainforest. Considered one of the world’s most exciting, the complex was built by a team of scientists, arborists and construction specialists using galvanised and stainless-steel aircraft hardware. Thrill seekers are hoisted 100ft above the jungle floor and strapped into a secure harness before whizzing through the trees and landing at various canopy platforms where they can observe rainforest birds and other wildlife. You could go ziplining before joining a five-day Amazon cruise starting in Iquitos, Peru. Delfin Amazon Cruises voyage sails aboard a boutique river vessel for 43 passengers.
From $3,700pp (£2,833), full-board, including all excursions (flights extra) aboard a boutique river vessel accommodating up to 43 passengers (delfinamazoncruises.com).
Go canoeing in search of caiman
The caiman, a carnivorous semi-aquatic member of the alligator family, can be spotted everywhere along the Amazon River and its tributaries, lurking in the vegetation at the water’s edge. A night canoe safari is the best way to seek them out. You’ll see the creatures eyes shining like little red lights and your guide may try to catch one with his hands and bring it on to the canoe. The caiman will be safely released back into the river afterwards, none the worse for wear.
Among those offering a night excursion to spot the caiman and other nocturnal creatures is the 12-night Natural Wonders of the Amazon and Galapagos itinerary offered by Noble Caledonia aboard the 40-passenger MV Anakonda – the only deluxe ship in the Ecuadorian Amazon rainforest – departing on February 24, 2020, from £7,495pp full-board, including flights from London (noble-caledonia.co.uk).
Do a spot of piranha fishing
Piranha are known for devouring flesh with their razor-sharp teeth in a blood-thirsty frenzy, which accounts for their vicious reputation. But the fish are in many ways misunderstood. Piranhas are omnivores, their diet typically consisting of insects, fish, snails, worms, seeds and plants. They only tend to eat larger creatures, such as mammals and birds if they are dead or dying and have fallen into the water. Most cruises that sail along the Amazon offer the chance to fish for piranha. You could board a boat in Santarém to Maica Lake – a tributary of the Amazon – and as the boat meanders through the floodplain, you will have the opportunity to see the local inhabitants, many species of birds and possibly even a freshwater dolphin. And when you stop to fish for piranha, if you happen to catch one take the precaution of letting your guide take it off your rod and return it to the water… just in case.
You can fish for piranha on Crystal Cruises’ 27-night all-inclusive New York to the Amazon voyage aboard Crystal Serenity departing October 24, 2021, from £6,221pp (crystalcruises.co.uk).