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Sail into the Amazon’s cathedral of green
There’s a pulse to the Amazon, an undercurrent. Inky waters backed by layers of green forest. Wild bird calls fill the air. A leafy branch shakes to reveal a troop of clamoring monkeys. The river water levels can rise by feet overnight, creating new networks of tributaries in what used to be only forest. With nimble, custom-made skiffs we explore this flooded forest, venturing into places no human has seen. With the exquisite Delfin II as your base camp, you’ll discover the pristine upper reaches of the legendary Amazon in style.
Peru’s Pacaya-Samiria Reserve is the largest protected seasonal flood forest in South America. The legendary river provides sustenance and utility for the communities who live along the banks and fosters a staggering level of biodiversity. The exquisite 28-guest Delfin II is perfect for our daily explorations; it'sdesigned for the river environment and to keep you connected to it.
Delfin II is a most gracious and lovely river ship. Spacious and clad in gleaming hardwood, she is both modern and authentically of the Amazon. Her public spaces are beautifully appointed—with tropical flowers and native handicraft decorative details.
The Best Time to Visit the Amazon: High Season Vs. Low Season
The Amazon, the “King of All Rivers,” supports the world’s most biodiverse rainforest. All life along it adapts to its seasonal fluctuations. What are these river fluctuations in this seasonally flooded forest, and when should you go?
6 Fascinating Birds to Find on an Amazon River Expedition
Exploring the Amazon’s Pacaya Samiria Natural Reserve has an uncanny way of inspiring travelers who’ve never gone bird-watching before to start scanning the trees and the sky for the most stunning, elusive, eccentric birds. Here are a few to look out for on your adventure.
Sail in tropical style & comfort with a small band of explorers. Delfin II accommodates just 28 guests in 14 beautifully appointed outside suites. This stately riverboat redefines modern elegance. Airy open spaces are detailed with clean lines in tropical hardwoods.
Any given visit to the many small and medium-sized streams, known locally as 'caños,' is simply fascinating! This morning we spotted many colorful bird species: woodpeckers, tanagers, cotingas, jacamars, and kingfishers.
Carlos Romero, Expedition Leader, January 27, 2022
See, do, and learn more by going with engaging experts who have been exploring this region for decades. Go with an expedition leader, naturalists, and local experts on birding, history, and more.
Veteran expedition leaders are the conductors of your experience. Many have advanced degrees and have conducted research or taught for years. They have achieved expedition leader status because they possess the skills, the experience, and the depth of knowledge necessary to continually craft the best expedition experience for our guests.
Every Amazon expedition offers an exclusive service—a Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic certified photo instructor. This naturalist is specially trained to offer assistance with camera settings and the basics of composition to help you become a better, more confident photographer.
Most of the naturalists were born in towns along the riverbanks and educated in schools in Iquitos. Each hand-picked guide is specially trained before joining the Lindblad expedition team. All are fluent in English, and their personal knowledge, gained from village elders, along with their scientific training makes for fascinating storytelling, as authentic as it is well informed.
Praises to the chef and his crew for the best Lindblad foods so far. Wow! I loved the use of local fruits, etc., and special sauces. Keep the chef. He is excellent and we are foodies.
Making a Difference
Lindblad Expeditions supports stewardship efforts in the places we explore, and one way we do that is through the Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic (LEX-NG) Fund. Traveler contributions to the LEX-NG Fund in the Amazon currently support our regional partner, Minga Peru, in its efforts to promote sustainable change for indigenous women and their communities.
We kicked things off with our daily pre-breakfast skiff ride to see what birds and monkeys the river had in store for us. This time we explored the calm waters of Pahuachiro Creek. It was a quiet morning with plenty of sounds. A saddleback tamarin monkey peeked at us from the leafy shadows, and a green hermit hummingbird fed from the flower of a beautiful bromeliad. Perhaps the biggest surprise was the chance to watch a pair of tyrant flycatchers refurbishing the abandoned nests of the yellow-rumped cacique. Caciques create ornate hanging baskets with tiny openings. The much smaller tyrants (about the size of warblers) decided that these abandoned homes looked like the perfect place to set up shop and raise a family of their own. They proceeded to pluck bits and pieces from the outside of the nest to renovate the inside. We floated for a long time watching the dance as the pair worked fastidiously to make their new nest from another bird’s leftovers. After breakfast, we had the chance to stretch our legs with our second rainforest hike. We might describe it as a casual trail, but we actually got to do a bit of bushwhacking, as our guide used a machete to clear the path of one of the lesser-used trails. It was so fun! We saw all sorts of cool critters, from the bird-eating tarantula to poison dart frogs and stick bugs. We even noticed a fancy yellow flower growing from a vine that made our guide particularly excited. The hike looped around to a giant, old-growth tree in the midst of being squeezed by a strangler fig. It was so massive and made us all feel wonderfully small. As we made our way back, we witnessed what was perhaps the highlight of the hike, a young anaconda, its belly bulging with a freshly consumed meal. It lay in the shallow waters of a creek slowly digesting its meal and posing for lots of photos. As we made our way out, we couldn’t help purchasing some of the beautiful woodwork of local artisans. The markets help support local communities and give them additional means by which to earn money and protect the forest. Our last outing of the trip was a visit to the community of Ritamaka Amazonas. As they like to say, “Ureakatepe!” or welcome! This thriving community along the Amazon has strong ties to forest protection and the empowerment of women and children. The community works with a Lindblad-supported organization known as Minga. Minga brings access to education, leadership training, and radio-based communication programs to the community. Ritamaka broadcasts lessons on math and language to other communities and participates in sustainable agroforestry and fish farming programs that help provide food year-round and create holistic practices that prevent the overuse of forest resources. Perhaps most special was seeing the pride and joy in the faces and words of the women in the community who have found a new place of confidence and leadership that they say they didn’t have before. Our adventurers learned how to create sugar water (well, Barb and Cindy are the ones who really put in the sweat equity on that one) and enjoyed the local cuisine, including piranha and doncella catfish wrapped in banana leaves. I think we could’ve eaten this every day. It was so delicious. We learned about the basket weaving techniques used by the village. They strip and dry palm fronds, then dye them using all manner of seeds, including henna (black or navy blue), turmeric (yellow), achiote (orange dye that is also used as a natural makeup), and puca ponga (perhaps my new favorite word). In case you’re curious, puca ponga makes the color red. Throughout the visit, children kept bringing us fruits to eat. One fruit in particular looks like a tiny plum but is super sour, and I think the children enjoyed watching our faces as we ate the tart morsels. A futbol match was in session on the school court, and teams kicked around the soccer ball a Lindblad guest brought the previous week. The town felt like such a happy place. It was easy to want to stay for longer. After visiting the market,(because we cannot leave without taking home some of those amazing weavings!), we headed back to the ship, where it was time, alas, to make ready for our final festivities as this wonderful adventure came to a close.
Today we explored a very special and remote location within the Pacaya Samiria Reserve. The Samiria River is part of the northwestern limits of the reserve, and it hides a great concentration of wildlife and biodiversity. Its complex ecosystems host not only birds and mammals, but an incredible array of insects. I am sure many are not even known to the world yet. Our skiffs departed the ship after a heavy rain that delayed our plans a bit. Once the rain stopped, we enjoyed the fresh air on our faces as we traveled into the main river. Birds, monkeys, and lots of gigantic trees were bathed by a magic light coming through the clouds. It all made for great scenery. Suddenly, the rain came back just as we were finishing our skiff ride, so the timing was perfect as we returned to our lovely ship, the Delfin II . For the afternoon, we headed down the Marañon River into the confluence of two of its mayor tributaries, the Yanayacu and Pucate Rivers. Both are black water rivers. The stillness of the water made it perfect for landscape photography. All sorts of animals appeared at every turn, and we had a great afternoon exploring the area. Once back on board, we gathered by the cozy outside bar. Our skilled bartender gave us a crash course on how to make a pisco sour, a typical Peruvian drink. He did a good job teaching us, as they were delicious! Salud!
Today was like three days in one between the skiff rides, rainforest hikes, and searching for caimans at night. We embarked bright and early for a skiff ride on the Yanuyakillo River, which means Little Yanuyaki River. This is a small creek along one of the main branches of the Upper Amazon called the Marañon River. It was a tranquil morning. It seemed everyone was waking up slowly, including the birds. We still had wonderful viewings, though, especially with a particularly chatty blue-collared hawk that seemed happy to perch just above our heads as he searched the river for fish. Blue-collared hawks are the Amazon’s fish specialist of the hawk family. Squirrel monkeys grabbed our attention from afar as they frolicked high among the branches of a timareo tree. The fruits are a delectable meal for the garrulous monkeys that travel in large troops throughout the forest, emitting high-pitched whistles and foraging for fruit. Later in the morning, we headed to Amazonas Natural Park, a private reserve along the Marañon River. We enjoyed a 2.5-mile loop hike that included crossing a network of eight hanging bridges high in the forest canopy. During the wet season, the water rises, and these bridges are necessary to connect stretches of trail. Come May, we get to feel as though we are walking among the treetops. When we returned, local artisans had set up shop, and we had fun picking out gifts for loved ones in the form of colorful animal ornaments and wooden flutes before heading back to the ship. In the afternoon, we enjoyed a siesta to prepare for an evening spent searching for caimans! We headed out along the Samiria River in the late afternoon light and enjoyed views of sunbathing sloths and moon-framed herons and falcons. As darkness fell, our guide swept the river with a bright torch to look for eyeshine from caimans hiding at the edge of the water. He spotted the glimmer of one before the caiman ducked out of sight. That is how exploration goes. It’s the adventure that counts.
Our last expedition day in the Upper Amazon was marked once again with great wildlife encounters! Our morning started with a quick skiff ride in a narrow creek known as Iricahua. This location is only accessible when the water level is high, and it might be the very last time we are visiting this place until next year when the levels rise enough to make it accessible again. The water level of the main river and the tributaries drop as much as 30 feet from the highest level to the lowest in this flooded forest! What an amazing feature! The beginning of May usually marks the time of the year when levels start to drop. By the end of May, levels are so low that many creeks are too shallow to enter, or the amount of debris accumulated in the bottom of the creek becomes an obstacle for skiffs attempting to penetrate this intricate ecosystem. Today was a lot of fun, as our skilled drivers took us through the meandering creek while we were still immersed in a thin morning fog, giving the excursion an extra layer of “Indiana Jones” adventure. Later in the morning, we continued our navigation down river and reached an area known as Flor de Castaña. The seasonal flooded forest has created a fair competition between the large tree species in this area, which allows for an additional ecosystem of dead trees within the lakes. This feature creates additional nesting areas for certain birds that will only nest inside the cavities of dead trees. At the same time, many aerial plants grow right on top of the remnants of trees, creating a unique “garden” within the lake. This feature, coupled with the stillness of the water, creates unique opportunities for mirrored photography. Our last skiff ride of the trip was just as amazing as the first one we had seven days ago. Once more, we enjoyed the skilled driving, the naturalists’ explanations about wildlife, and, in general, the beauty of an unforgettable and unique part of the world!
We awoke on the Pacaya River to explore the furthest reaches of our Amazon trip in the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve, which is largely protected from the development of its petroleum resources. This protection means an abundance of wildlife and diversity. The morning’s outing was a different kind of adventure. Instead of returning to the Delfin II for breakfast, we enjoyed the sights and sounds of the “Jungle Cafe.” Our guides served breakfast aboard the skiffs. As we floated along the edge of the riverbank, a group of capybaras, the world’s largest rodent, crossed the Pacaya right in front of us! They, too, were headed for breakfast, a thick meadow of grasses and river lettuce emerging from the waters. Our appetites satisfied, we continued our exploration of the reserve in an area nicknamed the Jungle Mirror, so called because the waters are so black that they create beautiful reflections of the surrounding forest. We looked for monkeys and birds along the way. Several jabiru storks, tall birds with white bodies, black heads, and red throat pouches, walked the riverbanks, taking flight as we passed. Horned screamers chorused from the trees with their donkey-like calls, and a troop of squirrel monkeys whistled from behind the leaves. We didn’t stay too long, though, as we had a different destination in mind: the black waters of the lagoon. It was here that we got to take our first dip in the waters of the Amazon. The calm, black waters are safe to swim in, and our guests are nothing if not prepared for just such an opportunity. We leapt from the boat into the mostly warm, sometimes cool, then warm again waters of the Pacaya. Rainbow-colored pool noodles bobbed everywhere, and Fred promptly started to swim laps. Our guides set a floating tub piled high with beer and soda, making a swim up bar in the Amazon! As we enjoyed the refreshing dip, pink river dolphins surfaced nearby, keeping us company from a respectable distance for the entirety of our swim. Before we knew it, it was time to return to the Delfin II where another meal and a presentation about the culture and history of the Amazon awaited. Come evening, it was time for an exploration of Magdalena Creek. The songs of birds surrounded us as we traveled up the creek. A pair of drab water tyrants, which are anything but drab, flirted with us from branches jutting from the water’s surface. Their tiny bodies and sweet faces cocked from side to side as they considered these strange visitors. They are only found along the edges of rivers and lakes. The evening belonged to the birds as we spotted greater anis and nunbirds and the charming iridescent countenance of blue and white sparrows.
FAQs and key information
From climate conditions, to electrical outlets, to packing the right footwear, find answers to the questions Expedition Specialists get most often.