South American Rivers vary greatly in size and significance from the Amazon River to the Putumayo River. The Amazon River is one of the great rivers of the world and the chief river of South America.
From its mouth at Belem, the Amazon is navigable as far as Iquitos, Peru, some 2,300 miles (3,700 km) away. Oceangoing ships can reach Manaus, Brazil. The chief port cities on the river include Iquitos, Manaus, and the Brazilian cities of Macapá and Santarém. Belém, the chief port, is on the Pará River.
Highlights of a South American river cruise is of course the Amazon rainforest, with its stunning wildlife, tropical flora, traditional villages and unique cultural experiences.
There are two main types of South American River Cruises.
1. Amazon River Cruises
Many of the major cruise lines have itineraries which visit Manaus. These are either shorter cruises (15nights) from Caribbean ports or longer cruises such as World Cruises and South American exploration cruises. Manaus is situated at the head of the Amazon over 900miles (1500kms) from Belem at the mouth of the river. The river is deep enough to accommodate even the large cruise ships. Smaller ships can get as far as Iquitos.
2. Specialty cruises
Amazon Tours and Cruises offer river cruises between Iquitos and Yurimaquas year round.
Amazon River Cruises operate from October to February.
Specialty cruises operate year round
Cruises to the Amazon and the north of the continent depart from Ft Lauderdale, San Juan, Bridgetown, Rio or Buenos Aires. Additionally the longer cruises can start from as far away as Southampton, Los Angeles.
The Equator runs through Ecuador and northern Brazil so much of the continent is tropical. The dry season is from October to June which is when cruises to the Amazon operate.