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Aqua Expeditions was launched in 2007 by founder and CEO, Francesco Galli Zugaro, to fulfill his dream of bringing unparalleled travel experiences, in the utmost comfort, to modern-day adventurers cruising the world’s greatest rivers.
Beginning with the Peruvian section of the Amazon River, one of the world’s last great unexplored regions, Galli Zugaro commissioned the custom design of the Aqua Amazon, the first cruiseship to set sail on this stretch of the Amazon.
Increased demand for Aqua Expeditions uniquely intimate, life enriching river safari led to the launch of a second custom designed vessel, the Aria Amazon in 2011, with 16 suites designed by Puig with a similar five-star boutique hotel sophistication, and cruising the same captivating stretch of the Peruvian Amazon amidst equally thoughtful comforts and fascinating wildlife. With hand-crafted Amazon River itineraries from and to the remote Amazonian city of Iquitos, the Aria Amazon carries travelers to the source of the Amazon and the remote Pacaya Samiria Reserve. Expert professional naturalist guides lead guests in small groups by skiff up Amazon River tributaries to first-hand encounters with Amazon wildlife from pink dolphins and piranha, to capuchin monkeys and three toed sloth hiding in the rainforest canopy, and hoatzin, toucans and macaws gliding seemingly effortlessly across the cloudless, cerulean sky.
Success on one of the world’s great rivers encouraged Galli Zugaro to set off across the continents in search of the next once-in-a-lifetime luxury river experience for Aqua Expeditions. On the Mekong River between Cambodia and Vietnam, he found that elusive journey, one that would capture imaginations as profoundly as did the Peruvian Amazon. In October 2014, Aqua Expeditions launched a third luxury vessel, the 20-suite Aqua Mekong on the historic Mekong River between Siem Reap, Cambodia and Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam. Floor to ceiling picture windows aboard Aqua Mekong allow guests to enjoy captivating panoramas of emerald flooded forests, colonial churches and stilt villages in the privacy of their suite. Guided shore excursions include enlightening visits to remote Buddhist temples and onto Cambodia’s vast Tonle Sap Lake before continuing on to Angkor Wat.
All 16 Design Suites on the Aria Amazon across the first and second deck measure 23 square meters (250 square feet), with individual air conditioning, polished timber flooring and a wall of floor to ceiling glass facing the Amazon River. En suite bathrooms with rain shower and organic bath amenities incorporate the latest eco-sensitive technology.
Soft lighting, natural fibers and neutral hues create a relaxing and luxuriously comfortable enclave where one’s only challenge may be to decide whether to gaze upon the Amazon from atop the California king size bed (which can be separated into two twin beds) made with 100% Peruvian cotton high thread count sheets or while lounging on the cozy window-side day bed, binoculars in hand.
All 16 Design Suites on the Aria Amazon across the first and second deck measure 23 square meters (250 square feet), with individual air conditioning, polished timber flooring and a wall of floor to ceiling glass facing the Amazon River. En suite bathrooms with rain shower and organic bath amenities incorporate the latest eco-sensitive technology. Soft lighting, natural fibers and neutral hues create a relaxing and luxuriously comfortable enclave where one’s only challenge may be to decide whether to gaze upon the Amazon from atop the California king size bed (which can be separated into two twin beds) made with 100% Peruvian cotton high thread count sheets or while lounging on the cozy window-side day bed, binoculars in hand.
In 2015, the Aria Amazon, which first set sail in 2011, was completely refreshed with new upgrades from bed linens to state of the art lighting. The 45 meter (147 foot) long Aria was designed by the innovative Peruvian architect Jordi Puig. Extremely generous dining and lounging areas include an outdoor river facing Jacuzzi. Floor to ceiling windows face the Amazon River in the ship’s 16 Design Suites, each measuring 23 square meters (250 square feet). Four suites can interconnect for families. Upgrades to the spa include new decor for enhanced relaxation. This striking black hulled ship accommodates a maximum of 32 guests plus 26 crew including a paramedic and four English-speaking naturalist guides. Aqua Expeditions highly experienced river pilots and the most rigorous cruise ship standards ensure smooth travel and safety on the waters of the Peruvian Amazon.
Ship Profile & Stats
- Length: 45 metres
- Tonnage: 500 tons
- Maiden Voyage: 2010
- Refurbished: 2015
- Passenger Capacity (dbl): 32
- Crew Nationality: Peruvian
- Officer Nationality: Peruvian
- Dining Staff Nationality: Peruvian
- Ship Registration: Peru
- Indoor Bar / Lounge
- Dining Room
- Outside Lounge
- Observation Deck
- Exercise Room
- Outdoor Jacuzzi
- Massage Room
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All itineraries and ports of call at the discretion of the cruise line subject to local weather conditions and may change without notice.
7 Night Cruise sailing from Iquitos roundtrip aboard Aria.
High Water Itinerary November – May
Day 1 Friday: IQUITOS – AMAZON RIVER
At 6:00pm we will board the ARIA AMAZON. Settle into your generously proportioned suite as you begin one of life’s greatest adventures. Following a routine safety drill and introduction to our naturalist guides, we gather for innovative Amazonian cuisine created by our Executive Chef Pedro Miguel Schiaffino, whose restaurant, Malabar, is the one of Lima’s top ranked dining experiences.
Day 2 Saturday: AMAZON RIVER – YARAPA RIVER – NAUTA CAÑO
Aboard our comfortable skiffs, we set sail from the Amazon River to the Yarapa River. Keep your binoculars ready to spot tropical songbirds, black collared hawks and sloths. We’ll go fishing for Amazonia’s notoriously ferocious piranhas while our naturalist guides share stories of Lake Moringo. As the sun sets, we head off on an evening’s wildlife excursion with extraordinary stargazing on the black waters of Nauta Caño.
Day 3 Sunday: MARAÑON CREEK – CASUAL JUNGLE WALK – YANAYACU-PUCATE RIVER
Rise with the sun for an early morning birdwatching along the Marañon River. After breakfast, we will take a jungle walk on the firm soil forest “Casual,” while looking for flora and fauna which include medicinal trees, insects, and poison dart frogs, and learning more about the different rainforest stratas. Later, swim, canoe or kayak in Yanayacu-Pucate River as we look for legendary pink river dolphins. Focus our hi-tech telescope on the night sky to identify the planets and constellations.
Day 4 Monday: NAUTA TOWN – VILLAGE VISIT – BIRTHPLACE OF THE AMAZON
This morning, we will visit the local fresh market with your guides who can identify the day’s catch by the fishermen of Amazonia and the region’s exotic fruits. In the afternoon, we witness one of the great spectacles of the Southern Hemisphere, the birthplace of the Amazon River. Tonight you will meet the new passengers who have signed on for the four-night trip, as we start our journey together along the Marañon River.
Day 5 Tuesday: YANALLPA RIVER – DORADO RIVER
By skiff, we explore the black waters of the Yanallpa River, disembarking to walk deep into the Amazonian rain forest. Later, we board the skiffs again to cruise along the El Dorado River for a dusk excursion in search of exotic nocturnal wildlife.
Day 6 Wednesday: PACAYA RIVER – UCAYALI RIVER – TAPICHE RIVER
The rewards of our early start today are plentiful, including a breakfast picnic accompanied by jungle symphony and fishing along the black waters of the Pacaya River. After lunch, we venture out by skiffs on the Ucayali River alongside the banana boats transporting their jungle products to the port of Requena, keeping an eye out for pink river dolphins.
Day 7 Thursday: CLAVERO OR YARAPA RIVER – AMAZON RIVER
Choose to go jungle walking, canoeing, kayaking or swimming on the black water Yarapa or Clavero River in the morning. Visit a remote Amazonia village in the afternoon. This evening before dinner, we will gather to introduce you to some of the crewmembers whom you may not have met, working “behind the scenes” to ensure your countless exceptional experiences aboard the ARIA AMAZON.
Day 8 Friday: ARRIVAL IN IQUITOS – MANATEE RESCUE CENTER –
At the Bellavista Nanay morning market along the Nanay River, sample exotic snacks from the Peruvian Amazon like ‘Suri’, Amazon caterpillars that are considered especially appetizing. Return to the ARIA for breakfast and to pack up. Before saying goodbye, we will make one last truly memorable stop at the Manatee Rescue Center, a very special kind of animal orphanage for Amazonian manatees. We will also visit San Juan craft market on route to the airport. Lunch or box lunch will be provided, depending on the exact departure flight time, which may vary. Other local activities may be included as well, according to the recommended flight schedule.