With a mix of apprehension and excitement, I embarked upon my first river cruise with Delphin in Peru. To this day, my cruise experience has left an emotional impact on me. I often reminisce of the lasting memories made. Luxury Amazon river cruising, is still a fairly new concept. When I embarked on my voyage a few years ago there was very little information or reviews. The lack of information ignited a sense of curiosity for the unknown. Prior to my departure, I questioned my comfort. Will there be lots of insects? How will I cope with no cell service or Wi-Fi? Will I become bored in the middle of the remote Amazonian river? Just to name a few of my inhibitions.
One of the many highlights was actually being detached from modern life and immersed into the natural surroundings. Fishing and catching wild piranhas, birdwatching (seeing the majestic Kingfisher fly swiftly), and kayaking down the river like a native was exhilarating. The crew consisted of locals who knew how to navigate the Amazon impeccably, which can be a tough job because of weather factors. Routes were sometimes impromptu, based on mother nature. Factors such as water levels, changed at whim. Delfin provides guests with essentials that you would rather not pack such as rain boots and rain coats. I had so much trust in the capabilities of the local guides that I was fearless on a canopy walk where there was a poisonous snake on the walking bridge.
This intimate setting, of just four cabins on Delfin I, gave a feeling of comfort and a detailed touch of luxury. The rooms were large and cozy, the floor to ceiling windows made the cabin feel even more spacious. I was also lucky to have a jacuzzi on my balcony. The crew always ensured to remove promptly any visiting bugs from the room or jacuzzi.
The cuisine was a culinary adventure. Every night the chef gathered local ingredients that I had never heard of before or imagined ever eating. I fell in love with Charapita peppers (one of the most expensive peppers in the world due to inaccessibility), cocona fruit and the wild caught river fish. I was able to pick up some of these items from the local grocery store in Iquitos on my way home while our driver generously waited on us to get our shopping done.
Evenings were spent on main deck, watching the sunset. Another guest onboard brought a guitar. He played music during the night cap. On our last night, in the dining room (all the guests fit in one family style table), the crew played music to thank the guests and the chef came out to dance with us. This experience gives you the feeling that you are on an adventure with your new found Peruvian family.
The best part was knowing your impact. On a visit to the San Francisco community the entire village welcomed guests. Everyone couldn’t wait to show us around, one villager showed us a sloth he rescued and rehabilitated. Another group of girls performed a native dance for us. I brought with me as much school supplies as I could fit in my luggage and was delighted by the amount of gratitude shown for my small gesture. A local child held my hand my entire visit and insisted on her mom gifting me a handmade bracelet. The locals are sustained by selling their handmade arts and crafts and were grateful for any sales. This was such an amazing experience, especially since the locals didn’t speak much English nor do I speak much Spanish, so we communicated with smiles.
I had the pleasure of cruising with Peruvian owner, Lissy and with great respect I watched her dedication to Delphin, ensuring its success along with its impact. She hand picks design details, which she purchases from the locals in the Amazonian communities. When you travel with Delphin, you get a sense of purpose knowing that you are contributing to the quality of life for locals, meanwhile preserving an indigenous culture. I had my heart set on seeing the pink dolphins, Lissy ensured that her crew sought out to find a viewing for me. Of course, not an easy task as it can be hard to predict wildlife activity. To my delight, I was able to see some of these majestic dolphins playfully jumping along the river. Unfortunately, although the guide followed the tracks of a previous sighting for an anaconda, my request to see one could not be fulfilled. Seeing an anaconda is just another reason to go back to the Amazon in the future with Delfin!
Give Life Meaning: Support Delfin’s philanthropic endeavors, http://kuyapa.com/donate/.
-Saleesha Baksh @TrippedYou , Instagram