upper amazon cruise
upper amazon cruise

A Guide To The Upper Amazon Cruises


Planning to discover the upper amazon river on a cruise? Here’s everything you need to know.


What constitutes the upper amazon?

When we talk about the upper Amazon River, we usually refer to the Part of the Amazon stretching out to Ecuador and Peru.


In Ecuador, they are the rivers in what is called the Napo valley river system, near the spectacular Yasuni and Cuyabeno national parks.


In Peru, it comes from the Andes mountain range and into the center of Peru. It’s the group of rivers flowing into the Marañon, more specifically, the Morona, Pastaza, Nucuray, Urituyacu, Chambira, Tigre, Nanay, Napo, Huallaga, and Ucayali. The rivers merge in Nauta to form the Amazon.

Amazon Rainforest Plants

When to go?

The consensus among travelers and explorers is that the best months to visit the Ecuadorian part of the amazon are the months of January, February, and March. It is this time of the year when the temperature, humidity and water levels cooperate to make the most comfortable travel experience. 


In Peru, the best time of the year is the dry months between June and October. If you were to go during the rainy season, you would have difficulties walking in the jungle or hiking because of the muddy soil. 


That being said, the Amazon will be hot and humid the whole year, so if it’s your first time there, you may not even notice the difference in humidity or water levels.


Amazon River Course
Every day is summer in the Upper Amazon


What to pack?

Here are some essentials you will need during your cruise:


  • Passport (with photocopies)
  • Travel insurance (with photocopies)
  • Airline tickets (with photocopies)
  • USD cash and travellers cheques
  • Credit or debit card (see personal spending money)
  • Any entry visas or vaccination certificates required
  • Reading/writing material
  • Small tape recorder
  • Cover for backpacks
  • Plastic bags (zip lock bags and a larger trash bag for wet clothing)
  • Concealable money belt
  • Light fleece top
  • Windproof/waterproof jacket
  • Shirts/t-shirts
  • Long sleeve cotton t-shirts
  • Shorts
  • Light cotton trousers
  • Hiking pants/track pants (make sure they dry easy, jeans are not recommended)
  • 1 light raincoat or poncho
  • 1 pair of knee high rubber boots (Karrimor KSBs are highly recommended, most boats and lodges provide rubber boots up to size 44, if you bring a larger size with you they may buy them from you after your trip)
  • Swimming gear

For the full list, check out this article on our site full of useful packing tips. For ingo about what to wear during your Amazon river cruise, check out this article we wrote a while back.

packing for the Amazon
Must-have items for the Amazon

How’s the weather?

In the Peruvian Amazon, the weather is always hot and humid, but I guess you already knew that. Exactly how hot and humid? During the day it can be as hot as 90 F, 32C in the daytime and 60 F or 13 C in the evenings. It rains often from June to October and there are lots of mosquitos, always.

In the Ecuadorian part of the Upper Amazon, the temperature is almost the same as in the Peruvian side, and the dry season lasts from December to March, it cools down after that. The weather is very similar all year around.


Amazon Rainforest Weather
A clear sky in the Amazon jungle (view from the cruise)

What animals and plants can I see?

You can see dolphins, birds, monkeys, and other small mammals. You can also see a wide variety of plants and people living in their own communities.


Are there any dangers?

We’ve covered this topic before on our blog, but to summarize it; there are some seriously dangerous animals lurking under the waters of the Amazon rivers. You also need to be careful of where you step and what you step on. You need to get vaccinated before your trip and you need to make sure to drink lots of water in order to avoid dehydration.

Despite these dangers, for the vast majority of travelers, mosquitos are the only real annoyance. 

How much do the cruises on the Upper Amazon River cost?

The cruises cost between $1650 and $4125 depending on the season, length of the trip and your choice of vessel.


Where to book?

If you’re interested in the Peruvian side of the upper Amazon river, you can book your cruise here, if you prefer the Ecuadorian side, click here.


Our top pics:

Anakonda Amazon River Cruise

The highlight of this tour is the chance to visit 15 local communities and the 5-start luxury meals and accommodation, including and outdoor Jacuzzi on the deck of the cruise. For more info click here.


Amazonas River Cruise

The highlights of this tour are the personalized excursions to discover the local flora and fauna as well as interacting with the natives. For more info, click here.


La Perla Cruise

The budget option. This is the cruise you want to take to feel one with the country and the landscape. The highlight of it, are the expert naturalists aboard to help you immerse yourself in the Amazon, don’t miss a single detail and make the most of the experience. For more info, click here.




Is an expert in everything South America, his passion for the region and exploring off the beaten path makes his travel writing both useful and interesting. He has written for several mainstream publications and you can read his guides on Ecuador, Peru, the Galapagos Islands and the Amazon. Andre is also an accomplished photographer and has been recognized as one of the best wildlife photographers in the region, his photos have been featured in National Geographic and other journals. As a travel agent Andre specializes in curating unique experiences, crafting tailor made itineraries and helping visitors make the best of their vacation, always putting the experience first

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