Esperanza Amazon Cruise, Peru

  • Economic Amazon River cruise charter option for an 18-berth vessel .

  • Over a decade's experience sailing with English-speaking groups. 

  • Minimum cruise length of 4 days applies. 

Overview

Esperanza pilot house.jpg

The M/F Esperanza is a sturdy and basic - but homely - Amazon River vessel, that is often used for medical service, academic and research expeditions.

A couple of times a year, she also offers 7-day fish-collecting trips, on the Nanay, Momon and Amazon rivers, for aquarium hobbyists. Ask us for dates. 

Luckily, she is available for charter, when not scheduled for alternative use. 

Remodelled in 2017 and given a steel hull and superstructure, the Esperanza has two levels, which accommodate seven twin / double cabins and four single cabins, sleeping a maximum of 18 passengers. All rooms are equipped with lighting and fans powered by rooftop solar panels. Cabins are not large … but who comes to the Amazon to spend all their time in their cabin?!

Aside from the sleeping quarters, the boat boasts: 

  • Two passenger restrooms on the lower deck.

  • A dining hall on the upper deck, with a drinks freezer.

  • A rooftop observation deck, with partial canopy and hammock space. A favourite place to hang out when the ship is on the move!

  • A fully-equipped kitchen serving all meals, and which can cater to vegetarian and other dietary preferences.

  • Auxiliary boats (speedboat or skiff) for use on excursions.

  • Kayaks that can be used upon request.

  • A friendly, experienced crew of 6 or 7 (depending on passenger numbers).

Her shallow draft is ideal for navigating the narrow tributaries of the Amazon and for pulling up directly to riverbanks for ease of passenger access.

Prices

All prices quoted below are for the CHARTER of the entire vessel, and based on a group of up to 5 people. Additional passengers increase the cost incrementally.
Please ask us for exact price.

# Passengers
LengthEntire Vessel
4 Days£4,661 / $5,996
Up to 185 Days£5,826 / $7,495
Up to 186 Days£6,992 / $8,994

Included:

  • Exclusive use of the Esperanza with 6 regular crew and bilingual (and very experienced) guide

  • Use of auxiliary boat

  • Use of kayaks

  • All fuel

  • All meals (3 hearty meals daily - vegetarian and other dietary preferences can be met)

  • Crew tips (though clients are welcome to give additional, if they wish)

  • Port captain sailing papers

  • Entry fees (Monkey Island) and tips to communities where the group may go fishing

  • Transport from airport/hotel to boat and vice versa on return to Iquitos

  • Unlimited, purified drinking water.

Not included:

  • Flights

  • Insurance

  • Hotel in Iquitos (but we are happy to make recommendations and reservations)

  • Beers and sodas

4D Itinerary

The below is an example of a four-day Amazon cruise itinerary on board the M/F Esperanza.
Please note that activities and overnight stays may vary, according to climactic and river conditions.

Day 1: Iquitos - Bellavista - Nanay River

Transfer from Iquitos airport or hotel to port of Bellavista in order to board the Esperanza (at whatever time you prefer).

We can visit the small, but colourful market area of Bellavista, with our guide, while luggage is being put onboard.

Breakfast on board as the Esperanza gets underway (or we can arrange breakfast at Aris Burger, a long-time culinary institution on the Plaza de Armas in Iquitos).

We sail up the Nanay River - stopping for fishing (eg black piranha), swimming from white-sand beaches, and general exploration.

Overnight at a sandbar on the Nanay river - bonfire, night fishing, possibility of sleeping out on the sandbar, if the weather is appropriate (with mosquito net, etc.). Hopefully it will be a clear night with starry skies.

NB. Lunch and dinner on board - the cook will happily cook up any fish that the group catches!

Day 2: Nanay River - Atun Cano

Early morning fishing, if desired.

Departure from sandbar, traveling downriver to the Amazon River itself, passing from the blackwater of the Nanay to the white-water of the Amazon. This is a good spot to look for dolphins.

Visits to caiman and fish farm at Barrio Florida (a short distance below Iquitos) and to the butterfly farm at San Rafael.

Optional visit to town of Mazan (taking motokars 3 miles overland from the Amazon River port of Timicurillo).

We continue downriver on the Amazon to Atun Cano with its community-protected lake, where we can kayak and fish. We can also explore jungle trails in the vicinity.

Overnight at Atun Cano. Opportunity for a night excursion in auxiliary boat to look for nocturnal wildlife.

Day 3: Atun Cano - Yanamono

Today, we travel upriver on Atun Caño Channel (which has excellent bird-watching and scenery) to the Napo River.

On reaching the Napo, we travel downstream to the channel leading to the town of Francisco de Orellana. This is near the location where Europeans first encountered the Amazon River. Visit to the town.

Enter Sapo Playa, a channel leading from the Napo to the Amazon - the Napo entrance is a reliably excellent place for seeing both species of river dolphin. Swimming with - or rather, in the vicinity of - the dolphins should be possible.

Sail through Sapo Playa channel to the Amazon visiting small communities on the way.

Travel upriver on the Amazon a short distance to Yanamono, with its sugar-cane rum distillery. (Yes, product can be sampled!).

Overnight.

Day 4: Yanamono - Iquitos

Morning demonstration of how the rum is made, ending with the opportunity to sample/purchase 4-types of rum, plus molasses made out of sugarcane. (Breakfast can be french toast or pancakes & bacon served with molasses!).

We then travel upriver to Monkey Island for a mid-morning visit to this rehabilitation centre for primates. Most of the primates are free-roaming, and so provide excellent photo opportunities. It is also a good location for birdwatching.

Continue upriver towards Iquitos, with lunch on board.

Mid-afternoon arrival to port in Iquitos, where we transfer you to hotel or airport.

7D Itinerary

The below is an example of a seven-day Amazon cruise itinerary on board the M/F Esperanza.
Please note that activities and overnight stays may vary, according to climactic and river conditions.

Disclaimer: River levels cannot be predicted accurately in advance, as there is annual variation in ‘normal’ water levels from year to year. The annual difference between high and low water can be as much as 15 m (45 ft ) along the Amazon River itself.

The boat crew and guides are very familiar with the area, however, and if water levels are such that a planned activity is not possible, they will have alternative suggestions.

We are always happy to adjust the itinerary to meet the specific or general interests of a group as well.

Day 1: Iquitos - Bellavista - Napo River

Transfer from Iquitos airport or hotel to port of Bellavista in order to board the Esperanza (at whatever time you prefer).

We can visit the small, but colourful market area of Bellavista, with our guide, while luggage is being put onboard.

Breakfast on board as the Esperanza gets underway (or we can arrange breakfast at Aris Burger, a long-time culinary institution on the Plaza de Armas in Iquitos).

Departing the port of Bellavista-Nanay, keep an eye open for two species of river dolphins which can often be found at river junctions (the port is at the junction of the black-water Nanay river, and the white-water Amazon).

We travel downriver for several hours to Yanamono (Black Monkey), the site of a historic aguardiente (sugar-cane rum) still. The owners are very hospitable, and you can visit the still (the sugar-cane crusher is some 140 years old), and try (and buy) the product, which includes four different types of aguardiente along with sugar-cane molasses. The establishment dog – Rabito – loves visitors.

We continue downriver to Sapo Playa (Toad Beach) and a channel that leads from the Amazon to the Napo River. We travel through this channel, mooring for the night at the exit, which is a notable hang-out spot for River Dolphins (Inia geoffrensis). We may hear them exhaling much of the night.

Day 2: Napo River - Orellana - Santa Rosa de Atun Caño

Go for a swim with the dolphins before breakfast. Why not?

After breakfast, visit the nearby town of Francisco de Orellana, named after the expedition leader (one of Gonzalo Pizarro’s lieutenants) who first encountered the Amazon River on 11 February 1542. The actual site of the discovery is unknown as river channels change constantly, but is within a few miles of the town.

Orellana and his men continued down the length of the Amazon to the Atlantic, eventually reaching a Spanish outpost on Margarita Island. A statue of Orellana commemorates his voyage.

For an engaging account of his astounding expedition, read Explorers of the Amazon by Anthony Smith (other chapters in the book are well worth reading as well).

After visiting Orellana (town and statue), we travel from the Napo River back to the Amazon through Atun Caño, a narrow and picturesque channel, stopping at the village of Santa Rosa de Atun Caño. The community protects a scenic black-water floodplain lake which has excellent fishing.

The boat crew can rig up fishing lines (or bring your own collapsible fishing rod), and head out on the lake in dugout canoes or kayaks (several one-person kayaks are available on board).

The lake and bordering forest are also great for bird-watching, and monkeys can be seen regularly.

Overnight at Santa Rosa de Atun Caño, or nearby.

Day 3: Santa Rosa de Atun Caño - Yanayacu

We continue downriver to the Apayacu River, traveling a short distance upriver to the community of Yanayacu (Black Water).

We moor at the confluence of Apayacu River with Yanayacu Creek (very black water), a great swimming spot and dolphin hang-out.

We visit the village of about 300 residents, and then travel by skiff down Yanayacu Creek, which has excellent birding (a high probability of observing the bizarre leaf-eating hoatzin), good chance for sloths and monkeys, and some fantastic scenery.

Floodplain lakes down the creek hold a population of air-breathing paiche (Arapaima gigas), one of the largest freshwater fish in the world.

A post-dinner trip by night back down the same creek offers opportunity to find caimans, frogs, owls, potoos, kinkajous, bamboo rats, prehensile-tailed porcupines, snakes and velociraptors. Keep your eyes peeled, and bring a good flashlight.

Overnight at Yanayacu.

Day 4: Yanayacu - Pevas - Amazon River

We depart early back to sail back to the Amazon River, to travel to the historic town of Pevas (also spelled ‘Pebas’), one of the oldest towns in the Peruvian Amazon, and located on high ground overlooking the junction of the Amazon and Ampiyacu Rivers. Despite its age, the town has only about 5,000 inhabitants.

A major attraction here is acclaimed Peruvian artist Francisco Grippa. His Escheresque house/gallery dominates the town, and is worth a visit in and of itself; while the large-scale artwork might have you spending more money than you thought you would part with!

Pevas also provide the opportunity to visit a nearby Bora Indian community, which while touristy, is much more authentic than similar ‘native villages’ on the outskirts of Iquitos. The handicrafts they offer for sale can be quite nice, but please don’t buy anything with animal skins, teeth, bones, feathers, etc. Woven chambira (palm) fibre handbags and hammocks are great souvenirs, and there will be plenty of other items that are made of wood, seeds, or vegetable fibres.

In the heat of the late afternoon, start motoring back up the Amazon river towards Iquitos. Travel time against the current is slower, but the boat will also hug the shore (where the current is slower), which means good birding and animal spotting. The crew are experts at spotting sloths, iguanas and other critters.

Overnight somewhere along the Amazon.

Day 5: Amazon River - Monkey Island - Nanay River - Pilpintuwasi

The crew will get an early start heading on up the Amazon River, but we can sleep in!

Later in the day, we stop at Isla de Los Monos (Monkey Island), a primate rescue and rehabilitation centre. Thirty to fifty primates of 7-10 species are resident during any given visit, and most are free-roaming (newcomers are kept in quarantine for a while).

There are also resident macaws, toucans and a friendly dog with one brown eye and one bright blue eye.
NB. Don’t put on clean clothes for the visit – you WILL be a monkey jungle-gym. If you are monkeyphobic, probably best to stay on the boat, and hope for no attack from monkey pirates.

Continue on upriver to Iquitos, and enter the Nanay River, passing shipyards along the way.

We stop at Pilpintuwasi Butterfly Farm & Animal Rescue Center. The real attraction is the butterflies, however, with many photo opportunities.

After our fill of butterflies, we travel further upriver. If water levels are low enough, the Nanay has some beautiful white-sand beaches which are good for camping and bonfires. The crew will keep an eye out for the best options.

Overnight on the Nanay River (this river has very low levels of biting insect activity, so enjoy!).

Day 6: Nanay River - Mishana

Travel to the community of Mishana, on the edge of the Allpahuayo-Mishana National Reserve. Some hiking trails into this protected area are accessible from the community, so we do some exploring with a local guide. The reserve is famous for having populations of some very rare (and very small) birds that are only found in stunted forests on nutrient-poor white sands (including the Mishana Tyrannulet and Iquitos Gnatcatcher).

If we are very lucky, we may see a Pompadour Cotinga – Google it. And yes, you can see monkeys here too, though they won’t be climbing on you.

Nearby blackwater lakes are great for kayaking for anyone who isn’t a hiker.

Overnight at a sandbar on the Nanay River.

Day 7: Nanay River - Iquitos

After breakfast, depart the boat at the port of Santa Clara (close to Iquitos airport).

If departing Iquitos today, we can coordinate boat departure to get you to the airport two hours ahead of flight time.

If staying longer in Iquitos, we will transport you to your hotel, and can make suggestions for additional activities in and around Iquitos, such as San Juan Artisans’ Market or the Manatee Rescue Center.

Important note: This is a suggested itinerary only and we are happy to modify it to better match the interests and physical abilities of trip participants.

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