Amazon River Cruise, Peru   12 comments

Amazon River Cruise, Peru

August 18 – 29, 2011

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Adventure flows with the mighty Amazon!  An ever-changing panorama of jungle life unfolded as we cruised from Iquitos to the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve.  Several times daily we boarded the skiff alongside our cruise ship and made journeys  to get close-up views of a variety of birds, mammals, reptiles, and plants, and to also watch Amazon pink dolphins cavorting near our skiff.    We visited jungle villages and witnessed typical Amazon scenes, as life on the river was revealed in front of our very eyes. 

Map picturefearless OAT tip leader

Our Peruvian adventure began with three days in the capital city of Lima.  We stayed in the Miraflores area and from there visited lots of interesting things in the region.  We then flew to Iquitos and spent one week cruising on the mighty Amazon River.   This was our 28th trip with Overseas Adventure Travel/Grand Circle Travel and Erik was our very excellent program director.  Since Erik grew up on the Amazon he knew all the neat things to see and do.  Thank you Erik for all the Learning & Discoveries, it certainly made doing this blog fun.  I would also like to thank Erik and Howard for the use of a few of their pictures in this travel blog. 

Save Money: If you decide you’d like to go on this or any Grand Circle Travel or Overseas Adventure Travel trip, and you are a first time traveler with them, they will give you $100 off any trip if you mention the name of my travel blog and my customer #561413. New travelers instantly receive $100 off the cost of the trip, and I will receive $100 when you depart on your trip.


Lima, Peru:  Located in the central part of the country, on a desert coast, overlooking the Pacific.  It is the capital and largest city in Peru, with a population of almost 9 million.  Its Spanish-colonial architecture is built directly over ancient Incan foundations.

The Historic Center of Lima is a UNESCO World Heritage Site

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The Government Palace of Peru is located in the historic center of Lima, and we arrived just in time for the changing of the guards. 

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We visited the Museum of Anthropology, Archeology & History in Lima, which guards priceless Incan and pre-Incan treasures.   

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Huaca Pucllano Archeological Site in Lima:  The area is an adobe and clay pyramid built with seven staggering platforms.  It served as an important ceremonial and administrative center between the years of 200-700 AD.  The great pyramid was constructed for the elite clergymen to express their religious power and control the use of all water resources, both salt and fresh.  The Peruvian Hairless Dog is a breed that dates back to the pre-Inca cultures, and they serve as guards at the Archeological Site. 

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The Temple of Pachacamac:  The site is located along the Pacific Ocean, about 20 miles southeast of Lima.  Most of the buildings and temples were built about 800-1450 A.D., shortly before the arrival and conquest by the Inca Empire.  They have identified at least 17 pyramids, with the Temples of the Sun & the Moon being the most striking.  Built entirely of clay, the Temple of the Sun has an estimated 50 million sun-dried bricks used in its construction.

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Villa El Salvador (Shantytown):  Located in the desert outside of Lima,  a refugee area began in 1970 for immigrant families who had left the sierra of Peru.  It now has a population of 350,000 residents, largely self-organizing, that has created neighborhoods supplied with water, electricity and sewers.    It was even nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 1986 for its excellence in social work and community growth.

Our local tour guide, Dante (6th picture down, black shirt) grew up in Shantytown and received an education and now does very well.  He told us there are three phases: Phase 1 (this is where we visited) is very meager;  Phase 2, has running water, electricity and the homes are improving;  In Phase 3 with the constant organization of individual town councils they have schools, clinics, parks,  paved roads and even factories.  We walked around in a Phase 1 area, visited a Soup Kitchen, and Erik our program director purchased food at the little grocery in the town and presented to the Soup Kitchen. 

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Here we are back in modern Lima.  A really nice shopping mall was located about 3 block from our hotel.  Jim & I found a place where we could eat and watch the surfers, and then one always needs a cappuccino even though there was a very long line. 

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We flew from Lima to Iquitos Peru to board our river ship to cruise the Amazon for one week. 

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The only way one can get to Iquitos is by air or by boat.  Consequently there are many, many tuk tuks in Iquitos.  Our favorite thing in the town was a fresh pineapple popsicle.

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Iquitos is the country’s main river port.  We enjoyed the scenes of the Iquitos River Port from the vantage of our river boat.

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Our riverboat, the La Arapaima, was three levels with a partially canopied top where we could watch the unique scenes upon the Amazon unfold before our very eyes.  The skiff was tied to the side of our riverboat and several times daily we very simply loaded into the skiff and away we’d go to another adventure.  We were a very happy group of travelers, it was a great group!

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We visited the Amazon during August which is winter in Peru and also the dry season.  Therefore, the river was down 25-30 feet to what it would normally be, so in order to get on land it was always a good hike up the embankment. 

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On the “Arapaima” we were joined by a naturalist,  Neil (on the left in the red shirt).  We had several fun evenings of entertainment by the “Chunky Monkeys.”  The group consisted of Neil,  Erik and two crew members.  We also had a great chef with lots of good food. 

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As we were going down the river in our skiff we noticed a guy standing on the shore with a huge anaconda draped around his neck.  Of course we stopped to check out the situation and take some pictures. 

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We visited the Nueva Esperanza Rum Factory, complete with a tasting after the tour.  The pictures show the young men bringing in the cane, then we helped them run the cane through the press, next the cane is fermented, then distilled, then viola there is rum. 

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The Grand Circle Foundation was established as a means to “give back to the world by helping to enrich the lives of the people we meet along the way.”  Our OAT group had the privilege of delivering and presenting a Sony generator to the elementary school in Las Palmas, which is a small village on the Amazon that has never had electricity.  Jim had the honor of being a part of the presentation of the generator to the school.  Investing in education makes a retired school teacher proud.  Kudos to the Grand Circle Foundation!

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Continuing on with the “day in the life” of the people of the village of Las Palmas we were invited to have watermelon in the home of a nice lady, watched a young man cutting a gourd to make a bowl and then enjoyed lunch in a family home.

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Fun times along the Amazon……from dugout canoeing, to swimming, to hunting for a tree house (without bats) to live in, to buying watermelons, shopping for my basket, and a visit with the shaman. 

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As we were going along in our skiff one day we came upon these two young men who had built this boat rig complete with a big holding net in the front.  They told us they had a couple thousand “walking catfish” in the net and were fishing and heading to Iquitos to sell them.  They had been on the river for 5 days and had about 3 to go.  We bought some fish for dinner that evening. 

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Have you fished for piranha lately?  Well we have!  Beef was used for bait and Erik and Neil instructed us that THEY would remove the piranha from the hook, that we were not to even think about doing it.  They showed us the teeth on the piranha and one could certainly see how a piranha could easily eat your flesh away. 

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Quick lesson:   How to carry a 10 gallon bucket of water filled to the brim, on your head ..….up a steep embankment. 

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We went on an early morning skiff ride along the Yanayacu River, did some birding, watched the glorious pink dolphins breaching along side of our skiff (never could get a picture) and then had a 5 star breakfast served right in our little skiff. 

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Our last afternoon was spent in Iquitos where we viewed the city by Tuk Tuk.  We were fortunate to be there for the Saturday Market and that was fascinating.  Lastly we rode a local bus back to our ship. 

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And thus the sun sets on a wonderful adventure full of fantastic memories!

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Posted September 19, 2011 by marilynfarmer in Travel

12 responses to “Amazon River Cruise, Peru

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  1. This is great, so beautifully put together. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Enjoyed the picures and review of the Amazon River Cruise. We are searching for a trip in 2012.

    • Thank you for sharing, we are considering the Amazon River Cruise and find your pictures and insite helpful.
      Have you taken the Argentina,Chile trip to Patagonia? It was wonderful, we went in the late fall and had
      super weather.

  3. Nice reflections of your trip. We are a family of 6 scheduled for this trip June 7, 2012, our 50th Wedding Anniverary. Your pictures were fantastic. I wanna go Now!

  4. I DID THE SAME TRIP IN 2010. FANTASTIC PICTURES AND AND BRINGS BACK MEMORIES OF MY TRIP. THANKS FOR SHARING. IF INTERESTED, MY PHOTO ALBUM WILL BE POSTED ON BLURB.COM IN A FEW MONTHS. CHECK IT OUT -SCARLI.

  5. Thanks for sharing your great pictures. I will be taking this trip in three weeks and your pictures indicate it will be a great trip.

  6. Great fun looking at your photos. Brings back great memories of taking this trip several years ago. I am envious that you got to see an anaconda. Lucky you! Our trip leader said they are rarely seen. 28 trips with GCT/OAT is quite a lot. Where are you going next? I am off to Myanmar in a couple of months.

    • Thanks Sally. We are doing the Baltics & St. Petersburg in Aug. with both extensions. I’ve had my eye on this trip since they first announced it a couple years ago. It will be fantastic. You have a grand time in Myanmar.

  7. Thanks for your pictures and input. I was looking at what everyone was wearing. Hard to know what to take and pack. We will be taking the Amazon Galapagos Wild and Amazon River Cruise back to back, so hope our trip is as amazing as yours looks and sounds. We leave October 9th to November 9th, 2012 hope this will be a good weather time. John and Karen Kometer

    John and Karen Kometer
  8. You are welcome. The Galapagos and Amazon Cruise as a back to back trip will be fantastic. Enjoy every minute of it!

  9. I was debating whether to take this oat trip and after seeing your pictures, I know that I have to go.
    Did your plane stop between Miami and Peru?

    • Hi Ann, no it was a direct flight from Miami to Lima. If you have been debating about touring this area, then I feel certain you will enjoy this trip with OAT. Happy travels.

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