Small Ship Cruises in Peru

Discover the beauty of the Amazon on a small ship cruise, exploring remote villages and diverse wildlife in Peru.

Peru adventure cruises are becoming increasingly popular among travel enthusiasts due to the country’s stunning and extremely diverse habitat under and above water. A region abundant with some of the world’s most exotic wildlife in the rainforest, Peru houses 84 of the planet’s 117 life zones. Enriched with deep-rooted traditions, Peru is also renowned for its rich and delectable gastronomy. From the remains of the most ancient civilizations of the Americas to theme parks, exquisite heritage sites, and of course, the great Amazon River, traveling in Peru is breathtaking in every sense. From mountains to deserts and beaches to jungles, Peru holds highly diverse geographies, each with its distinct climate.

The region is best explored aboard small-ship cruises and motorized skiffs organized by the most affable and seasoned crews. They will make sure travelers make amazing memories during their travel. Cruise through the world’s greatest rivers and other natural habitats that can be reached only by boat. Pink dolphins, Toucans, and sloths are among the spectacular fauna that can be spotted during these tours. The motorized skiff lets travelers explore remote places situated deep in the Amazon. These adventures offer the rare experience of a magical “life on the river” and some great local food. Think legitimate al fresco indulgence since the meals are fresh from the jungle.

Best Peru cruises and areas to visit

The Amazon River is where most of Peru’s biodiversity resides and can be explored by the Amazon River. Some of the exciting things to see and do in this region include:

Exploring Lima the local way:

Sip on delicious pisco and indulge in scrumptious tapas while walking around Lima’s beautiful neighborhoods during this half-day tour. Travelers will then be escorted to an early flight to Iquitos and board the Amazon Riverboat. Daytime boat excursions will be full of relaxation and pink dolphin spotting, among other rare marine and bird species. The jungle comes alive at night completely differently with its beautiful nocturnal creatures. Some of the rare phenomena spotted during a night excursion are the glowing eyes of a jaguar or the ‘red eye shine’ of a black caiman!

Amazon River:

An Amazon River Cruise is a popular choice for wildlife enthusiasts who want to experience the diverse flora and fauna of the Amazon rainforest, which is spread across eight countries in South America. With small boats carrying 8-50 people, Amazon River cruises offer an intimate and personal experience. The journey starts in Lima, Peru, which perfectly blends old-world charm and new-world luxury. Adventurists can enjoy paddle board classes, while others can splurge on gourmet Peruvian cuisine. The real charm of Amazon River tours lies in the rugged, adventurous experience it offers in nature’s bosom.

Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve And Maranôn River:

While cruising through this vibrant natural sanctuary, travelers will get the chance to witness biodiversity that has around 965 species of flora and 1,000 species of fauna. Caimans, macaws, falcons, and woolly monkeys are some of the wildlife spotted here. At night, explorers can enjoy a night excursion to Piranha Creek.

An early morning expedition into the reserve is a paradise for birding enthusiasts. Vibrant birds like kingfishers, striated herons, black-collared hawks, and nearly 200 other species light up the forest. Guests interact with a local indigenous family member to get a good peek into the traditional ways and rich Peruvian culture. A local Shaman will also meet guests to share insights into the age-old healing craft of Shamanism, which uses rainforest plants to cure ailments and diseases. The Amazon riverboat will pass through the tributary waters of the Maranôn River, where guides on board will help you spot some rare species of fish and vegetation.

Walking Along Ucayali River:

The famous Victoria Regia water lily, a huge aquatic plant with leaves measuring 3 meters in diameter, can be seen in abundance in the Yucuruchi region, part of the Ucayali River area. The Amazonian manatee, giant otter, river dolphin, and many other rare species call this region their home.

Rare Wildlife at Choroyacu Creek:

An early morning trip into the scenic region of Choroyacu Creek will reward guests with its stunning ecosystem and rare biodiversity. Indulge in some piranha fishing with an extended ride through the Nahuapa River. Be sure to visit the Amazonian Manatee Rescue Centre, which shelters orphaned manatees who were the victims of poaching. These endangered mammals are released back into the Amazon Basin after rehabilitation.

Best time to cruise in Peru

Peru's climate varies greatly from region to region due to the difference in altitude between coastal areas and the Andes. Weather can play an important part in your travel experience in Peru, which has two main seasons, the wet and dry seasons. The wet season is from November to March, with warmer temperatures and intermittent showers. The dry season is from April to October when you can expect more consistent weather, sun, and clear blue skies. This is the best time to visit Peru. The conditions are as stable and dry as they get at any time of the year, and the weather is relatively predictable.

Peru also has two short shoulder seasons in April and November. Those months serve as transitions between the predominant weather conditions, and the weather is generally good but a little unstable at those times.

Tips For Travelers:

Peruvian culture is a beautiful mix of Hispanic and native traditions. The Quechua and the Aymara are the two main native groups of Peru, and both speak their native languages in addition to Spanish. Learning a few words in Spanish can help you communicate with the locals during your visit to Peru. For those who love clothing, design, or culture, the Peruvian attire will be impressive since Peruvians express their culture through their dressing. Peru is known for its ancient and modern art, which includes jewelry, woven items, stones, and metal carvings, which could make great souvenirs to take back home.

Music and dance are extremely important in Peruvian culture. The range of climates in Peru results in an incredible variety of produce, a bonus for food lovers. For those who like shopping in markets and are good at bargaining, Peru’s markets are the perfect place to experience the country’s people, food, and culture.

How to get to Peru

Flying is the best way to travel to Peru from anywhere other than South America; in the case of the latter, one can use overland transport. Aeromexico has the most flights; it operates in the US and can be a great choice for getting to Lima. Jorge Chávez International Airport is Peru's main airport, a one-and-a-half-hour flight from Cusco, Machu Picchu's closest airport. The nearest airport to Peru is Trujillo (TRU) in Honduras. However, there are better options for getting to Peru. Transmar operates a bus from Pucallpa to Lima 3 times a day.

There are direct flights to Peru - from London to Lima. But indirect flights to Lima, Cusco, and other destinations in Peru can be booked from the UK's major airports, including Birmingham, Manchester, and Edinburgh. The quickest flight from the African continent takes 19h 30m and has one stopover.

Peru Cruise Tips

Here are some handy tips to remember while planning your Peru Cruise trip:

Plan ahead: Peru is a hit among tourists from all over because of one of the ‘Seven Wonders of the World’, Machu Picchu, and a long summer season. Amazon adventure cruises sell out very fast and are usually booked up to the next few months. Travelers are advised to plan the trip well to get desired slots and save on flights.

Arrive early: With so much exploring to do apart from the small cruise ships around Peru, arriving a few days before departure is a great idea. Airport transfers on the day of arrival or Day 1 are included in most itineraries and up to 3 days before the date of departure of the trip.

Choosing the right trip: This is a 9-day and 8-night cruise aboard a 38-meter-long Amazon Riverboat named Amatista from Lima back to Lima. The trip encompasses Iquitos, Nauta, and the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve along the Maranôn and Ucayali Rivers. Led by Amazon Reserve naturalists, guests can glimpse the quintessential life on the largest river in South America.

What to pack: While packing essentials for the cruises in the Amazon, cameras, binoculars, a flashlight, mosquito repellent, a personal first aid kit, a dry pack or waterproof daypack, hiking shoes, a waterproof/windproof jacket, locks for bags, and preferably biodegradable toiletries are some must-haves. Making sure all necessary travel documents for specific nationalities are also crucial in a packing list.

Peru Travel Advice: Sol is Peru's currency normally used across the region. Nuevo Peruvian Soles and US Dollars are widely accepted in Peru. However, there may be a slight disadvantage when paying in USD. A product or service could be slightly more expensive if you pay in USD. So make sure to carry spares in case of emergencies. Personal protective equipment like a COVID mask, hand sanitizer, and a quick COVID test/antigen test is mandatory, and a pair of rubber gloves can also come in handy. Taking into account personal drinking and shopping habits is important, and having an emergency fund is wise.