An Amazon River Cruise makes exploring the Rainforest in style a reality, where fine dining, first class accommodations, and engaging excursions await intrepid explorers & nature lovers. In Ecuador you’ll find some of the very best live-aboard Amazon Cruise options, with quick, easy and affordable access into one of the most biodiverse regions on the planet. Both the Anakonda and Manatee luxury Amazon River cruise options offer a means to visit the Amazon Basin in luxury.
Keep reading for a glimpse of what to expect when cruising the Amazon in Ecuador. When, where and how to best organise your trip.
Cruising is a mobile and flexible way to explore the Amazon rainforest in South America. Cruises provide an alternative to the typical Amazon lodge tours where visitors base in one specific place.
Visitors live and sleep aboard a comfortable cruise ship, especially designed for navigating Amazon waters. You’ll wake up to a new area of forest to explore each day, and can appreciate the wonderful jungle vistas as you drift downstream.
The Ecuadorian Amazon, or the Oriente, is a place that has captivated the imagination of adventurer’s, presidents, explorers, scientists, and travelers since the Spanish colonial occupation.
In 1542, Francisco de Orellana’s journey down the Rio Napo to the mouth of the Amazon River, put the Amazon on the map. Orellana, a conquistador, was a companion of Francisco Pizarro during his conquest of Peru, and his dream to traverse the Amazon to it’s source began in Quito, Ecuador.
The nine-month journey found the small group of Spanish facing fierce river tribes and near starvation, before discovering friendly indians who helped with provisions and ship repairs. In the end they endured to successfully reach the mouth of the Amazon River in Brazil. It was a remarkably intrepid expedition, especially five centuries ago without GPS, maps or modern equipment.
Amazon Cruising, of course, has changed rather a lot since Orellana’s day! Now offering a unique chance to follow in the footsteps of those first Spaniards, but with touches of luxury along the way, and without unknown dangers lurking around every bend.
Today, the Amazon is the largest river system on the planet, with more water than the next 7 biggest rivers combined! That’s an incredible 20% of the world’s fresh water supply.
Taking a trip down the Napo River into the dense primary Amazon forest puts you up close to the myriad of creatures that call the jungle home. Monkeys, Caiman Alligators, Pink River Dolphins, Sloths, and a dizzying variety of colorful birds greet you in the lush forest and murky waters. Spectacular Rainforest landscapes and sunsets make unforgettable trip photos, and friendly local tribes wait to share their cultural traditions with visitors.
An array of cruise activities showcase this unique habitat and ecosystem. Trekking and canoe rides transport you into the heart of the forest, where your native guide will help you spot wildlife and explain the many medicinal uses of jungle plants. Cultural activities include visits into tribal communities to learn about their traditions and way of life. Parrot clay licks, canopy view towers and optional early morning bird watching complete a magical trip!
There is no best or worst time as such, but there is a wet and a dry season. Ecuador’s wet rainforest season runs from February to July, with average daytime temperatures around 24 degrees Celcius and rainfall of 35cm. The dry season (August to January) is hotter with temperatures up to the mid 30s Celcius, and has less rainfall.
So which is the best season to visit Ecuador’s Amazon? It really depends on personal weather preference. Visitors are highly likely to see rain during any month of the year – not just rainy season! Water is such an important part of the rainforest ecosystem so showers are always common. The dry season can be rather hot and sweaty though. Above all the wildlife, plants and tribal people are here all year round so there resally is no best or worst time to visit.
Ecuador Amazon river cruises run for 4, 5 or 8 days. We particularly recommend the full 8-day trip itinerary transporting you from Coca city down the Napo River to the Peruvian border, with visits to famous Yasuni National Park along the route.
Ecuador has two luxury Amazon River Cruises in operation, offering a truly unique alternative to the traditional jungle lodge tours, providing a greater variety of destinations and activities, as well as a superior level of luxury and refinement.
The Anakonda Amazon River Cruise runs four, five and eight-day itineraries taking you deep into the jungle, slowly cruising downstream towards the border with Peru, where each day you wake up at a new destination, where new adventures await.
Imagine dugout canoe rides in search of wildlife, forest treks to learn about medicinal plants and their uses, exploration of tributaries in the famously biodiverse Yasuni National Park, kayaking or swimming in Amazon waters, incredible views from atop canopy observation towers, night safaris looking for caiman alligators, and cultural interchange with local tribes. It is the diversity of activities that makes the Anakonda cruise such a rich travel experience.
The 148ft-long luxury vessel has eighteen suites, each with wall to wall panoramic windows, so you won’t miss any of forest views along the way.
The elegant rooftop observation deck comes complete with jacuzzi, comfortable lounge chairs, and al fresco bar – the perfect spot for a sundowner beer or cocktail. The Anakonda’s restaurant serves top shelf, fine dining cuisine, using traditional Ecuadorian dishes and locally sourced ingredients to show you the rich gastronomy of the country.
Naturalist English-speaking guides lead daily excursions, and are quick to point out the hidden-in-plain-sight animals in the forest. This cruise is well-suited for all ages, and there are special activities available for families with children.
The Manatee Explorer Cruise boasts over a decade of Amazon Cruising experience, a true pioneer of Ecuadorian tourist endeavors. The 98ft long boat has 14 suites with floor to ceiling windows, balconies, and amenities including jacuzzi showers. Itineraries range from short 4 day trips to more extensive 8 day-journeys.
Day excursions by motorized canoe and kayak take you into the Yasuní National Park, one of the most bio-diverse areas of the world. Naturalist guides walk you through the flora and fauna of the jungle, stopping at parrot licks and observation towers before returning to the boat for elegant meals, and relaxation on the observation deck with a cocktail and the sounds of the jungle all around.
There are also opportunities to visit local communities living along the river. These people and their customs have survived for centuries, keeping their traditions intact while investing their energy into preserving the jungle for future generations.
For more information about Amazon River Cruises, contact us or call our toll-free numbers. An Amazon Trip can also easily be included into a Custom-made Ecuador Itinerary, by combining with the Galapagos Islands, Mainland Ecuador, or Peru.
In conclusion, an Amazon River Cruise is a fantastic choice if you are looking for a rainforest trip with a difference. It is a tour option steeped in tradition, following the footsteps of those very first Spanish explorers down the greatest river on our planet today. The diversity of unique excursions and luxurious cabins make for an unforgettable experience!