As you navigate more than 500 miles of the Amazon River aboard the small ship Zafiro, witness an amazing variety of flora and fauna and come to understand traditional village life during this once-in-a-lifetime journey. 

Starting at: $5,295 Make a Reservation Ask Us A Question or Call 855-330-1542
 Amazon macaws  Experience the mystical Amazon River   Blue macaws  Egret as seen along the Amazon River  Sunset over the Amazon River  Poison Dart Frog  Squirrel monkey in the rain forest

Amazon River Cruise

Aboard the Exclusively Chartered Riverboat Zafiro

9-10 days from $5,295

As you navigate more than 500 miles of the Amazon River aboard the small ship Zafiro, witness an amazing variety of flora and fauna and come to understand traditional village life during this once-in-a-lifetime journey. 

or Call 855-330-1542

Tour Details

TOUR BROCHURE

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WHAT OUR TRAVELERS SAY

This trip was exactly what we were looking for - a good introduction to the nature, history and culture of the Amazon Basin in Peru. It served to whet our appetite for more explorations into the vibrant, colorful watery jungles of the Amazon. 

- Barbara T.

We loved the naturalists, the crew, the local food, and are convinced the boat was the best on the Amazon. Truly an unforgettable experience!

- Carol M.

Our trip to the Amazon River was far greater than we expected! Not only did we get to learn a lot about wildlife and Peruvian culture, but also enjoyed delicious fresh food and an exceptional service!

- Arianna B.

The trip exceeded my expectations. I chose Smithsonian because my friend and travelling companion had been with them on a trip down the Nile, but I had no idea how wonderful this trip would be.

- Smithsonian Journeys Traveler

The staff on the trip are the best I have ever encountered, and I have been to Antarctica, Galapagos, Alaska, in the Mediterranean.

- Joan S. & Peter T.

JOURNEYS DISPATCHES

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SPECIAL OFFER

Save $1,000 per person when you book by November 30, 2018!

Overview

Exploring the mysterious Amazon River Basin—one of Earth’s most exotic natural realms and our planet’s largest rainforest ecosystem—is an unforgettable and once-in-a-lifetime experience. Witness the spectacular variety of its lush flora and extraordinary fauna during daily expeditions by excursion boat and nature walks. As you experience this enthralling world of verdant tropical waterways and rainforests, learn about the relationship the local villagers have with their environment as well as the critical global issues of biodiversity and sustainability.

Highlights Include

  • River Exploration: In an authentic atmosphere of exploration, cruise past the confluence of the Río Ucayali and Río Marañón—the legendary inception of the Amazon River—where the primeval calls of birds and wildlife echo across the rainforest. Far removed from civilization, cross into the Pacaya-Samiria Reserve, the largest wetlands refuge in the world. Here, cruise along sinuous tributaries and serpentine blackwater rivers and see rare indigenous wildlife as well as the Victoria amazonica waterlilies, which can grow nine feet in diameter.
  • Tropical Wildlife: Gain up-close views of gray and pink Amazon River dolphins, red howler and squirrel monkeys, monk sakis, sloths, and other animals. Walk through forests where the number of butterfly species climbs into the thousands, and see colorful large-billed toucans, blue-and-gold and scarlet macaws, kites, hawks, jabiru storks, and the distinctive hoatzin.
  • River Villages: Visit villages along the shore, accompanied by your local guides. You’ll learn about the ribereños people who live here and about their special relationship with the environment, meet a local shaman who explains indigenous medicinal plants and watch preparations for a traditional meal.
  • Lima and Iquitos: Tour the historic center of Peru’s capital city, a World Heritage site, and meander through the largest traditional market in the Peruvian Amazon in Iquitos.
  • Zafiro: Launched in 2015, this deluxe small riverboat is ideal for traveling on the Amazon, given its modern comforts, spacious public areas, and superb service. The delightful top deck features a lounge with floor-to-ceiling windows, which serves as a hub for lectures, while the outdoor bar is ideal for stargazing.

*During this voyage, we will share the ship with other leading cultural and educational institutions, which will add to the excitement and energy of the experience.

This trip was exactly what we were looking for - a good introduction to the nature, history and culture of the Amazon Basin in Peru. It served to whet our appetite for more explorations into the vibrant, colorful watery jungles of the Amazon. 

- Barbara T.

We loved the naturalists, the crew, the local food, and are convinced the boat was the best on the Amazon. Truly an unforgettable experience!

- Carol M.

Our trip to the Amazon River was far greater than we expected! Not only did we get to learn a lot about wildlife and Peruvian culture, but also enjoyed delicious fresh food and an exceptional service!

- Arianna B.

The trip exceeded my expectations. I chose Smithsonian because my friend and travelling companion had been with them on a trip down the Nile, but I had no idea how wonderful this trip would be.

- Smithsonian Journeys Traveler

The staff on the trip are the best I have ever encountered, and I have been to Antarctica, Galapagos, Alaska, in the Mediterranean.

- Joan S. & Peter T.

2019 and 2020 Itinerary

Day 1 — Depart the U.S. / Lima, Peru

Depart for the cosmopolitan coastal capital of Peru, Lima, located at the foot of the Andes Mountains. Arrive late this evening in the heart of the upscale, cultural Miraflores district and check into your hotel.

Day 2 — Lima

Following a morning at leisure, enjoy a tour of the historic center of Lima, a World Heritage site. See pre‑Columbian temples and proud colonial mansions amid modern architecture, and the colorful buildings lining the Plaza de Armas—the city’s main square. Tour the opulent Casa de Aliaga, built in 1535 as the residence of Don Jerónimo de Aliaga, the co‑founder of Lima. Filled with original 16th-century Spanish art and furniture, it is the oldest private house in continuous use in the western hemisphere and has been inhabited by the Aliaga family for 17 generations.

Then, visit the 17th‑century colonial Convent and Church of San Francisco, a brilliant combination of Moorish and Baroque architectural styles and one of the finest churches in South America. Gather for the welcome reception in the hotel this evening. (B,R)

Day 3 — Lima / Iquitos / Nauta / Río Amazonas

This morning, fly to vibrant Iquitos, an important rubber boom city during the late 19th century that attracted thousands of immigrants from around the globe to the Amazon River Basin hoping to build their fortunes in the rubber industry. Dine at El Dorado Plaza for lunch and visit the colorful Upper Belén Market, the largest traditional market in the Peruvian Amazon.

Then, transfer to Nauta and embark the Zafiro. Leave the modern world behind as you begin your voyage of discovery into one of the world’s most remote regions. Gather on the ship’s observation deck and watch as civilization fades away and the vast Amazon River unfolds before you. A team of expert naturalists will share their insight into this rich and complex ecosystem and help you identify fascinating species like the radiant large‑billed toucan, pink river dolphin, and South American oriole. Across the basin’s planes, jabiru storks methodically search for food in the shallows, three‑toed sloths move between trees in a slow‑motion ballet and hawks, kites and turkey vultures glide overhead. (B,L,D)

Day 4 — Río Amazonas / Río Ucayali

Awaken in the heart of the Amazon Basin, where the dense jungle teems with the greatest diversity of plant and animal life on Earth and the perfect serenity of the river is broken only by the occasional fisherman paddling by in a traditional dugout canoe.

This afternoon on the shores of the Amazon, meet with ribereños, or river people, in their village, which has been inhabited for generations. Here, the villagers maintain conservation efforts to raise several of the thousands of butterfly species that live in the Amazon’s unique ecosystem, including the rare electric-blue morpho. (B,L,D)

*Please note: Itinerary may vary based on wildlife sightings, water levels, and navigability.

Day 5 – Río Amazonas / Río Ucayali / Río Marañón

This morning, embark one of the vessel’s small excursion boats to explore the Pacaya‑Samiria National Reserve, the largest wetlands reserve in the world. This area is home to the endearing capybara—a large, semi‑aquatic rodent endemic to South America—and a profusion of rare palms, orchids and other tropical plants that flourish at ground level. Watch for pink and gray river dolphins swimming alongside your boat.

After lunch, board a small river skiff in search of exotic wildlife, including toucans and saddleback tamarin monkeys, and marvel at the giant Victoria amazonica water lilies. (B,L,D)

Day 6 — Río Marañón/Río Pucate / Río Ucayali

Under the shade of a magnificent rainforest canopy, enjoy a picnic breakfast while you watch for white‑necked heron and wattled jacana dipping into nearby shallow waters. Walk through this mysterious realm of soaring ceiba trees that reach as high as 200 feet, listen for endangered scarlet macaws chattering in the canopy and watch for egrets, oriole blackbirds, and purple gallinules.

This afternoon, by special arrangement, meet a local shaman, or medicine man, who will perform a traditional ritual and explain how the ribereños have used indigenous medicinal plants and herbs to cure ailments for centuries. Participate in a traditional Amazonian tree‑planting ceremony dedicated to ensuring the longevity and well-being of the rainforest.

This evening, search for elusive nocturnal creatures such as caimans and bats on a nighttime excursion into the Pacaya‑Samiria National Reserve—a vast blanket of stars glow above you, impossibly bright this close to the Equator. (B,L,D)

Day 7 — Río Marañón / Nauta

Enter a virtually uninhabited portion of the Amazon where the river narrows. Board excursion boats and cruise along labyrinthine blackwater tributaries while the vessel’s naturalists point out animal and plant life rarely detected by the untrained eye. Then, try your hand at catching a red‑bellied piranha during a fishing expedition.

This afternoon, stop in a local village for a demonstration on how to prepare Amazonian specialties, including Juanes, a regional favorite made of chicken and rice wrapped in banana leaves. Later, visit another Amazonian village where you will learn more about the ribereños’ timeless way of life and special relationship with this remarkable environment.

Enjoy a final evening of cruising the Amazon. Gather on the vessel’s upper deck for a festive farewell as the sun sets over the lush flora of the passing rainforest. (B,L,D)

Day 8 — Nauta / Iquitos / Lima

Following breakfast, disembark and continue to the Manatee Rescue Center for an up‑close encounter with young, orphaned Amazonian manatees.

Fly from Iquitos to Lima, where day-room accommodations have been reserved. Stay overnight near the airport before the Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley Post‑Tour Option. Or, late tonight, board your return flight to the U.S. (B)

Day 9 — Return to the U.S.

Your flight arrives in the U.S.

Included meals are denoted as follows: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L), Reception (R), Dinner (D)

2018 Itinerary

Day 1 — Depart U.S. / Arrive in Lima, Peru

Fly independently to Lima, Peru where you'll be met upon arrival and transferred to the Swissôtel for the night. (D)

Day 2 — Lima / Iquitos / Embark Amazon Riverboat

Fly over the Andes to Iquitos, where we enjoy an encounter at the Manatee Research Center and survey the history of local tribes at a small museum. Board the riverboat, your home for seven days. Enjoy stargazing and storytelling with your local guides while cruising slowly on the Amazon River toward the confluence of the Marañón and Ucayali Rivers. (B,L,D)

Days 3-8 — Amazon River and Tributaries

Spend the next six nights aboard a comfortable riverboat navigating deep into the tributaries of the Amazon — a web of forests and lakes that pulsate with a chorus of birdlife, far-off calls of primates and flashes of butterflies.

More than 1,300 species of birds, 40,000 plant species and grey and pink river dolphins can be found in the lush, ever-changing jungle we know simply as the Amazon. Enjoy unprecedented access to three habitats: varzea, igapó,and palm-flooded forest, including the deep reaches of the protected Pacaya-Samiria Reserve, for the greatest diversity of wildlife sightings.

Night excursions may reveal caimans, capybaras, common potoos, frogs and other nocturnal wildlife. Periodically throughout the year, guests may even release turtle hatchlings. Daily excursions include pre-dawn birding, enriching presentations, school visits in local villages and even piranha fishing! Learn about the lives of the Ribereño people as we visit villages perched along the riverbanks. This is a fantastic opportunity to stroll through their gardens learning about medicinal plants from a local Shaman. Depending on the villages visited during your voyage, you may also see a water treatment tower or home filtration systems. Pointing out details no guidebook could provide are your team of world-class naturalists and a local expedition leader, while an attentive 21-member crew ensures exceptional service in the wild. (6B,6L,6D)

Day 9 — Iquitos / Lima / Depart for the U.S.

After a morning excursion and lunch return to Lima. Dayrooms are provided until you connect with independent overnight flights home. (B,L) 

Day 10 — Arrivals

Arrive in the U.S. and connect with your flight home.

Included meals are denoted as follows: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L), Reception (R), Dinner (D)