Editors' Picks

Aria Amazon

Intimate, adventure, wildlife

Maynas Province, Peru

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Indagare Adored

At a Glance

Since Aqua Expeditions began 13 years ago, founder Francesco Galli Zugaro has continued his vision of unlocking access to remote regions through small explorer vessels. The Aria debuted in 2011, with interiors from Peruvian architect Jordi Puig and 16 cabins. A voyage promises expert-guided excursions through the rainforest—spotting pink dolphins, fishing for piranha, kayaking narrow headwaters. And no need to worry about the food: menus come from Pedro Miguel Schiaffino, one of Peru’s finest chefs, celebrated for his use of native Amazonian ingredients such as paiche fish.

The Standout: The forward-facing outdoor hot tub, offering fabulous river views

Don’t Miss: The “mirrored forest” effect at sunset, as the black waters show perfect reflections of the trees (best viewed from the observation deck)

Indagare Loves

  • The fantastic staff that includes naturalist guides, a masseuse, paramedic and a talented bartender
  • Shopping for handicrafts and jewelry from the local river communities in the on-board boutique
  • The thoughtfully prepared lunch and dinner menus


Originating in the Andes and flowing 4,000 miles through northern South America, the Amazon River is one of the most biologically diverse areas on earth. Francesco Galli Zugaro, founder of Aqua Expeditions, aimed to pioneer small luxury river expedition vessels on the Peruvian Amazon when he began the company in 2007. The Aria Amazon, at 16-suites, is the larger of Aqua Expeditions’ two boats that tour the Peruvian Amazon (the second being the Aria’s sister ship, Aqua). The 147-foot boat offers a luxurious, boutique home from which to explore the unique wildlife and landscape of the Amazon River.

Three-, four- and seven-night itineraries include daily excursions early each morning and afternoon on small eight-seat skiffs accompanied by a highly trained naturalist guide. Activities range from wildlife viewing, canoeing and swimming in the Amazon, kayaking, fishing for piranhas, medicinal plant tours and tours of Nauta, the regional capital as well as of a manatee rescue center. Indagare Note: These excursions are seasonally dependent and differ between high water (December to May) and low water (June to November). During high water season, guests can explore further into the rainforest by skiff on the smaller tributaries that form. Throughout low season, the waters recede, giving guests the chance to hike into the jungle and explore the rainforest by foot.

Between jaunts, guests can relax on boat's front deck Jacuzzi, enjoy a massage in the small treatment room, use the treadmill on board or watch the river through the floor-to-ceiling windows in each 250-square-foot suite. All accommodations have two twins or one king bed and some can connect to accommodate families. The 250 sq. ft cabins are simple and comfortable, with neutrally hued fabrics, polished hardwood floors and a floor to ceiling glass window facing the river. The ensuite bathrooms all have rain showers and organic bath amenities.

The boat itself is a feat of engineering, hosting a 9,000-liter treatment plant that purifies all water on board, two engines and back-up generators that provide energy for the boat’s output, included air-conditioning. The staff of 24 is incredibly warm and friendly and are an essential component to the experience on board. The menu appeals to an international audience but also takes advantage of the abundance of plants, fruits and fish that are local to the Amazon, such as paiche river fish, cassava, plantains and charapita, a small yellow ghost pepper used to flavor regional Amazonian ceviche.

Who Should Stay

Couples or groups of friends interested in extending their Peruvian or Ecuadorian trip to a more remote part of the region. The boat recommends families bring their children who are aged seven and older, as smaller children may feel a bit hemmed in without the space to run around, and tech-oriented kids (and adults) may feel disconnected by the lack of TV and wifi. Larger groups can take over the boat entirely for a private journey along the Amazon.

Getting There

There are direct flights from worldwide hubs to Lima. From Lima, it is another two-hour flight to Iquitos to reach the boat. Depending on the length of the itinerary, guests will either end back in Iquitos or in Nauta, which is connected to Iquitos by the only highway in the northern Amazon, and is about a one-and-a-half-hour drive.

Written by Lizzie Eberhart

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