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Amazon River Boat Cruises in Peru

Covering a huge expanse of the earth's surface and including vast remote regions that have hardly known the sound of a man's voice, the Upper Amazon rainforest of Peru was once only accessible to an adventurous few.

  • Amazon river people have always used dugout canoes, sturdy craft hollowed out from select rain forest trees.

  • Later, explorers, botanists, biologists, adventurers, and others used the same primitive form of transportation - the only available means of reaching the upper waterways.

  • Towards the end of the 1800s, a few larger trading vessels began to reach remote Amazon River tributary locations along the deeper of the "water highways."
Now you can experience the same thrilling sights and sounds that greeted these earlier travellers by taking an ecologically-friendly and fascinating river cruise.

Up to 25% off GAP Adventures

How has this opportunity come about?

In the last 30 years, there has been a growing awareness of the importance of the Amazon Basin in the ecological balance necessary to all life on earth.

Gradually, eco-tourism pioneers began opening up some of the river-ways to individuals and groups of people like you through Amazon tours and river cruises.

From full-on jungle adventure packages to luxury tours on fully-equipped cruise ships, tours to suit all preferences allow you to penetrate the edges of this previously-unknown jungle kingdom.

What makes a cruise on these hidden waterways so special?

Geography of Amazon River Boat Cruise Regions

Much of the jungle or rainforest of the Amazon basin (covering large parts of Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, and Brazil) lies at less than 100 meters (328 feet) of elevation. 

A large part of the Upper Amazon in  Peru is less than 300 meters (980 feet) above sea level. 

To drop to sea level from Iquitos in Northern Peru, the Amazon crosses 1,000 miles to the Atlantic with less than one foot of drop in an as-the-crow-flies mile, causing a slow meandering sinuous river, winding snakelike over vast distances of exotic tropical lowlands.

Amazon River Tours and Cruises
Amazon River Boat Cruises Ucayali River
The Ucayali, Amazon River Tributary

The huge amount of water carried by the Amazon River allows for cruise-size ships to easily navigate the reaches of the Amazon river in Peru.

Smaller vessels are used on Amazon river boat cruises to access the upper reaches of tributary rivers.

Recommended Amazon River Adventure Cruise

Amazon River Boast Cruises GAP map

A tour that we highly recommend is the River Boat Adventure Cruise offered by Gap Adventures


  • Dining on food fresh from the rainforest
  • Spotting pink dolphins on the Amazon River
  • Looking down into the jungle from a canopy walkway
  • Exploring the Pacaya Samiria Reserve
  • Interacting with locals.


Hop aboard a riverboat and experience the Amazon in style. The cuisine on board is regional and provides a unique - and delicious - window into local culture.

Led by an Amazon Reserve Naturalist guide, your cruise will include daily excursions by motorized skiff designed to reveal the exotic wildlife that calls the rainforest home - with any luck you'll spot

  • sloths,
  • toucans or
  • pink dolphins!

And, with two full days for exploration in Pacaya Samiria Reserve, you'll have the chance to experience the jungle up close.

Gain a rare glimpse of how life ‘on the river‘ is lived and experience the magic of the Amazon on this once-in-a-lifetime riverboat adventure.

Amazon River Tours and Cruises - Northeastern Peru

Because of being so flat, wet, and heavily forested, much land is flooded each year, making roads almost impossible to build or traverse, but also creating an excellent environment for Amazon River Boat Cruises - actually the only way to explore the heart of this fascinating part of the world.

Amazon River Tours and Cruises
Amazon River Boat Cruises Delfin II
The "Delfin II"

Iquitos, in the northeastern department (state) of Peru, is 1,000 miles from the Atlantic yet the river is still accessible to oceangoing tankers.

From there the main tributary of the Amazon stretches southward past Pucallpa, still navigable for many miles.

Iquitos is a favorite jumping-off spot for cruises up the Pacaya and Samiria Rivers to the awesome Pacaya Samiria National Reserve.

Amazon River Boat Cruises - Mid-Eastern Peru

Situated at the confluence of the Tambopata and Madre de Dios Rivers west of the Bolivian border, Puerto Maldonado is in the watershed area of another tributary of the Amazon.

This confluence of rivers skirts the borders of Peru, Bolivia, and Brazil before finally entering Brazil on a long trajectory to the Amazon.

Amazon River Tours and Cruises
Amazon River Boat Cruises

Puerto Maldonado offers several headwaters Amazon river boat cruises, being in a prime location near at least four reserved or conservation areas of this part of the rainforest of Peru.

Rainforests - Rhett Butler
Tropical rainforests are a world like none other; and their importance to the global ecosystem and human existence is paramount.

Unparalleled in terms of their biological diversity, tropical rainforests are a natural reservoir of genetic diversity which offers a rich source of medicinal plants, high-yield foods, and a myriad of other useful forest products.

They are an important habitat for migratory animals and sustain as much as 50 percent of the species on Earth, as well as a number of diverse and unique indigenous cultures.

Tropical rainforests play an elemental role in regulating global weather in addition to maintaining regular rainfall, while buffering against floods, droughts, and erosion. They store vast quantities of carbon, while producing a significant amount of the world's oxygen. 

Read more from Rhett Butler, the man behind the fascinating site - is considered a leading source of information on tropical forests by some of the world's top ecologists and conservationists.

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