Join us for the phenomenal Amazonian natural history voyage aboard the deluxe, all-Suite M.V. ZAFIRO, uniquely designed to cruise the remote tributaries of the Amazon. Visiting 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.
Mary Werner DeNadai, FAIA, is a nationally recognized architect and Trustee Emerita of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Her career spans four decades in the fields of historic preservation and classical architectural design and she has had personal involvement with projects that include the full spectrum of architectural styles, periods and building types. Mary has recently lectured on trips to the Rhine River, Cuba and the Canary Islands and Morocco. She has been acknowledged and awarded for her achievements by the American Institute of Architects, as well as by other National, State and Local organizations.
Expert naturalist guides will lead walks through lush rainforests and excursions down some of the Amazon’s most remote tributaries to visit indigenous villages and observe unique wildlife, such as pink river dolphins and capuchin monkeys.
Saturday, Day 1
Depart for Peru’s cosmopolitan coastal capital, 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 the deluxe JW Marriott Hotel.
Sunday, Day 2
Following a morning at leisure, enjoy a tour of the historic center of Lima, a UNESCO 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. 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. 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. Gather for the Welcome Reception in the hotel this evening. (b,r)
Monday, Day 3
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. After lunch in a local restaurant, visit the colorful Upper Belén Market, the largest traditional market in the Peruvian Amazon. Walk through the Plaza de Armas and see the Casa de Fierro—or Iron House—designed by Gustave Eiffel for the International Exposition of Paris in 1889 and still considered one of the finest examples of civil architecture in Peru. Continue to the Amazon waterfront and stroll along the lively Malecón Tarapacá riverwalk. Admire impressive views of the river and 19th‑century European‑Amazonian‑style mansions built with Baroque and Rococo influences and beautiful ceramic tiles imported from Italy and Portugal. In Nauta, embark the Zafiro and begin your voyage of discovery into one of the world’s most remote regions. Gather on the ship’s observation deck and watch as modern civilization fades away and the vast Amazon River unfolds before you. A team of 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, 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)
Río Amazonas/Río Ucayali
Tuesday, Day 4
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 passing by in a traditional dugout canoe. Embark one of the vessel’s small excursion boats to look for wildlife along a pristine tributary. This afternoon, meet with ribereños (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)
Río Amazonas/Río Ucayali/Río Marañón
Wednesday, Day 5
This morning, 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)
Río Marañón/Río Pucate/Río Ucayali
Thursday, Day 6
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 the canopy and watch for egrets, oriole blackbirds and purple gallinules. By special arrangement this afternoon, 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 for centuries. Participate in a traditional Amazonian tree‑planting ceremony dedicated to ensuring the longevity 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 shines above you, impossibly bright this close to the Equator. (b,l,d)
Friday, Day 7
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 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)
Saturday, Day 8
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 in the Wyndham Costa Del Sol Hotel.
Stay overnight near the airport before the Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley Post‑Program Option.
Or, late tonight, board your return flight to the U.S. (b)
Sunday, Day 9
Arrive in the U.S.