If you’re thinking about a river cruise, take a look at South America. This beautiful continent is laced with impressive rivers, flowing through amazing ecosystems that teem with exotic plant and animal life.
Any discussion of river cruising in South America starts with the Amazon, an enormous and intricate waterway. One of the world’s largest river systems, it’s cloaked in dense rainforest and rich in biodiversity. More than a third of the world’s known species live there. Thousands of different types of fish, birds, reptiles, and butterflies thrive in the Amazon Basin, along with unusual mammals like sloth, pink river dolphins, and giant otters. There are national parks, nature preserves, and enormous swaths of deep green jungle.
Some cruises of the Amazon sail between Belém, the river’s Atlantic Ocean port, and Manaus, the capital of the Brazilian state of Amazonas. Others sail on the Rio Negro, a major tributary and one of the world’s largest blackwater rivers (the water is dark due to tannins from decayed vegetation). Some itineraries feature visits to local villages for fascinating insights into their lifestyles and customs.
There are options beyond the Amazon, too. The Paraná River, South America’s second-longest, winds through vast wetlands to Iguaçu Falls, one of the most magnificent waterfall complexes in the world. Perched at the meeting point of Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay, the waterfalls are higher than Niagara and stretch for more than a mile and a half. In the town of Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil, you can cross the Fraternity Bridge to Puerto Iguaçu, Argentina, and the Friendship Bridge to Ciudad del Este, Paraguay.
The Paraguay River courses through that country’s share of the Pantanal Region, the world’s largest and most pristine tropical wetland. The region is alive with marshland wildlife like storks and caiman; you may also spot monkeys, tapirs, jaguars, and rare marsh deer drinking from the river. You could visit a traditional farm or tour the city of Asunción and its lovely museums, parks, and monuments.
The banks of Columbia’s Magdalena River are dotted with towns founded by Spanish conquistadors; some of the colonial architecture is well-preserved. As the river flows past green jungles and low mountains, you may see iguanas, white herons, manatees, tortoises and even the descendants of hippopotamuses originally brought to Columbia by the drug lord Pablo Escobar.
For more ideas and assistance with making your South American river cruise reservations, talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor.
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