My Great Global Bucket List summer kicked off with a truly remarkable sailing down the Amazon river. I've skirted the Amazon a couple times, but I wanted a deep jungle experience, and I wanted it in style. That's how I found Aqua Expeditions, and their Aria luxury riverboat. It's like a floating five star hotel in one of the world's most hostile environments.
King size beds, rainshowers, air conditioning, stocked bar, a Jacuzzi, sundeck, viewing lounge, dining room and all with floor to ceiling windows. There are 16 luxury suites catering for up to 32 guests, with 24 crew catering to your every need. The whole time I'm thinking: This is the Amazon?
Before I get to the jungle I have to get to the food. The menu was created by one of Peru's rock star chefs, and executed to perfection. All local Amazonian fare like catfish and plantain and chili marshmallows and fruits you've never heard of. Every meal is a tasty adventure, served with complimentary (and well selected) wines from Chile.
There are two to three excursions a day, the passengers split into one of four skiffs, heading into the tributaries in search of wildlife. We saw sloth, monkeys, unbelievable varieties of birdlife, river dolphins, and also the many communities of people that call this part of the world their home.
Below was taken from a short walk on terra firma (land that does not flood) where I had a poison dart frog crawl up my leg, watched a local hold a huge hairy tarantula, dodged bullet ants, and felt the intense jungle heat and humidity. Although Brazil gets most of the attention (it holds 60% of the Amazon basin) the Peruvian Amazon is the size of Spain.
A boa constrictor doing it's thing during the jungle walk. Life is abundant and everywhere but you could walk right past it.
Mimosas at sunset, shortly before a night excursion to look for (and successfully grab hold of) caimans. There were 24 guests on my sailing from the USA, UK, Australia, Austria and Japan. Everyone got a long splendidly.
My wife joined me for this trip (we left our two year old with her grandparents) which made it an extra special assignment. This is the view of the Amazon from our cabin. At night, we watched the stars, during siestas, we watched the world float by.