Amazon River cruising didn’t sound all that appealing when my friend Nina Fogelman first mentioned it to me. In fact, just the words “Amazon River” conjured up visions of intense humidity, large bugs, and trees dripping with anacondas. However, I sat up and took notice when I clicked on the link that Nina sent. Delfin Amazon Cruises operates two boats,Delfin 1 and Delfin 2, and they both looked beautiful. Suddenly, I went from pooh-poohing her idea to begging her to book one of the four luxurious cabins on Delfin 1 for hubby and me. delfinamazoncruises.com
If you read my article “Perfect Peru” in the July 2015 issue of Ranch & Coast, you might remember that Nina is the founder and director of Ancient Summit, the award-winning travel company where she specializes in creating custom Peru itineraries. She planned our whole, highly successful, three-week trip in April/ May 2015. ancientsummit.com
Über Luxe Peru
To connect with Delfin 1, we flew from Lima to Iquitos. My expectations were high, but our spacious cabin was even better than I had imagined. Big floor-to-ceiling windows allowed us to enjoy the view of the river from the king bed and from a sitting area. Outside, our well-furnished private deck extended the length of the cabin and provided an even closer view. Ample closet space, high-thread-count bed linens, and A/C were also very welcome. Did I mention that there was a shower on the deck in addition to the one in the bathroom?
The rest of the ship was equally attractive. The top deck included a bar, a lounge area, and a 360-degree view; an elegant dining room featured wrap-around windows.
We shared the ship with fellow travelers Esther and Miguel (Spaniards living in Lima), and Irma (Peruvian) and Maarten (Dutch), living in New York. After just a short time, we were talking and laughing like old friends.
Amazon River Adventures
Our time on Delfin 1 was divided between relaxing and dining on board and exploring the area on twice-daily excursions. The sorties were done on a comfortable skiff with our host, Renny, at the helm. I’m happy to report that our adventures did not include the fly-swatting/anaconda-dodging I’d feared.
On one excursion, we saw monkeys, egrets, trees dripping with bromeliads, and a large area covered in beautiful water lilies — but the river’s famous pink dolphins were elusive. Another day, we swam in the river. We also kayaked and fished for piranha (that had really scary teeth). On the last day, we went upriver in the skiff to a point where we could disembark and hike in the incredibly muddy jungle. (Delfin 1 provided the wellies.) On this trek we saw a very poisonous frog and a lizard that looked just like the one in the Geico ad, and — yes — a huge anaconda that, thankfully, kept his distance.
In spite of having enjoyed the excursions, I have to say the things I loved and remember the most are the beautiful reflections of trees, plants, and clouds on the still surface of the river. These ethereal scenes were especially magical in the early morning and late afternoon light. I also have vivid memories of coming back to the ship after dark. One night, Renny turned off the motor and we just glided and listened to the surprisingly loud sounds of the night jungle.
Amazon River Cuisine
On Delfin 1, a crew of 12 is on hand to service four cabins and up to eight people. Every time we returned to our cabin, we found a new towel creature on the bed. Likewise, the kitchen staff knocked themselves out at every meal, decorating the table and arranging the plates.
Meals included produce from the Amazon River and the surrounding jungle. I especially enjoyed the Doncella fish that was served with three different sauces at lunch, and a dinnertime pumpkin soup garnished with seeds from the Amazon rainforest Macambo tree.
Our four-course evenings allowed time for good conversation with our cosmopolitan traveling companions. Lucky for us, Esther and Miguel were generous with Lima shopping and dining tips — which proved to be invaluable.
The food, the friends, the excursions, sitting up in bed drinking tea and watching the Amazon River go by, it was all just wonderful. By Elizabeth Hansen