The Amazing Amazon

The sign states: "Iquitos, the Gateway to the Amazon River."
Body: 
After a short flight from Lima to Iquitos on LATAM, we were able to begin our expedition cruise on the Amazon River!
 
Aqua Expeditions is a true, authentic Amazon experience. We started with a welcome lunch to cool off, met the other guests, and enjoyed a jungle excursion (complete with monkeys and birds) before heading to the ship. We did each expedition by skiff. If you think of the skiff as your safari game vehicle, it’s the same except on the river.
 
En route to the ship, we visited a manatee rescue center. They are an endangered species and a great help to the environment. There were birds, parrots, otters, and macaws there as well. 
 
A bit about the ship: it is drop dead gorgeous! The staff is very attentive, and the naturalists were incredible and well-informed. The Aqua Expeditions Amazon Aria has only 16 beautiful suites to accommodate 32 guests.
 
Upon boarding the ship, your home on the river, you are welcomed with a cool drink and led to your stateroom where the cruise director, Jorge, met me and went over the good-to-knows of the ship with me. We had a lovely dinner and retired after a full and fabulous day.
 
There was a daily option to go bird watching. We would leave the ship at 6 a.m. and observe the jungle awakening. So many birds, macaws, toucans, parrots, and herons. Sloths moving slowly, and monkeys playing in the trees. Pink dolphins graced us with their presence each day! We would return to the ship for a beautiful breakfast. Then, off again for a mid-morning skiff excursion!
 
We had to sign in to get to the reserve. We trekked through the jungle in the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve and had lunch at the ranger station where six-foot fish are caught.
 
We enjoyed making ceviche and shaking Pisco Sours on the ship in the lounge where ports talks were held, cocktails were served, and friends were made.
 
We went one evening out on the skiffs for a fishing expedition… a piranha fishing expedition! I am terrified of fish, and I caught a piranha! I was terrified but faced my fear! I caught the first one using beef as bait. Our skiff caught 15 piranhas, which were served at dinner. Speaking of the food onboard, you are very remote, so what you have is very local. Dinner each evening was farm-, or river-, to-table. We purchased a large catfish from a local fisherman, and that catfish was soup by dinner!
 
We paddled the wooden canoes the locals use with the locals. We then took an amazing swim off the skiffs in the Amazon! That may have been my favorite day; we swam in the afternoon, and, by evening, we visited a local village. This village had no running water, and many children who ran to meet us didn’t have shoes. I had brought along 40 pairs of children’s flip flops and lots of school supplies. Handing them to the kids, whose faces lit up, was so heartwarming. This was huge to them. I applaud Aqua Expeditions for doing this. On each cruise, they visit different villages on each voyage. Afterwards, we enjoyed a wonderful sunset over the Amazon. It was delightful!
 
This was a magical adventure, and it touched me deeply. I would highly recommend this trip for anyone who is in search of an authentic adventure! 
 
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