Delfin Amazon Cruise: Crazy Adventure on the Amazon River

April 30, 2022

Delfin Amazon cruise

I stepped back into the dark brown muck and leaned on the tree behind me to get a better photo of the anaconda slithering in my direction. I was motionless for a mere two seconds when Ericson Pinedo, our local naturalist on the Delfin Amazon Cruise, jerked me back by my arm and quickly snatched the hat from my head. It was covered with tiny deadly black ants.

“If those ants bite you, you will not be happy,” he informed.  Apparently, they’re deadly.  Who knew?

Since pre-Colombian times, the Amazon has been the source of intrigue for outsiders, from daydreams of riverboat adventures to nightmares of shrunken heads. The largest river by volume, the Amazon is often considered the most dangerous river in the world. My small eco-friendly cruise ship meandered the waterway during the rainy season, quietly gliding through the tributaries and rainforests that are home to an incredible collection of flora, fauna…and unexpected adventure.

Luxury on the Amazon

Amazon River cruise

After a raucous welcome by village children and a tropical drink, we embarked on our four-day adventure in Nauta, Peru. Refurbished in 2017, the Delfin III is a three-story ship that carries up to 43 passengers.

delfin amazon cruise

My air-conditioned cabin had an expansive and modern living area and an unusually spacious bathroom.

delfin amazon cruise

But my favorite feature was the floor-to-ceiling windows which treated me every morning to a different jungle view, literally a few feet from….my feet. A mug of steaming coffee in hand, lounging in a luxurious bed and watching the sun filter through the lush green leaves was the perfect way to start each day.

A cozy lounge was conveniently located on the middle floor, filled with overstuffed sofas and chairs. It was here that copious pisco sours – Peru’s national drink made with pisco liquor, lime, egg white and syrup – were consumed.

A Jaunt in the Jungle

delfin amazon cruise

The Amazon is home to more species of animals and plants than any other ecosystem on earth. The river is over 4,000 miles long, has more than 1,100 tributaries, and carries more volume of water than the top ten largest rivers flowing into the Atlantic Ocean combined.

Our skiff holding around a dozen people set off to explore the tributaries, creeks and lagoons of the Samiria, Yanayacu and Pucate Rivers.  Along the way, Ericson pointed out wildlife such as macaws, hawks, sloths, and howler monkeys in the jungle canopy.

Arriving at the shore, we were greeted on the shore by a local teenage boy.

poison dart frog

“We are using young indigenous people to take us into the jungle and find animals for us,” said Ericson.  “This way, they can make money and learn that you do not have to poach the animals to earn a living.”

As we began our trek into the thick rainforest, our young guide bolted ahead of us, with great agility I might add.  He appeared a few minutes later and lead us into an area near a tiny trickling creek, and a baby anaconda.  I backed up to take a photo, and that’s when I had the above-mentioned “ant encounter.”


Our young guide was very astute at discovering the Amazon’s diverse creatures, which to the untrained eye would remain well-hidden by their natural camouflage. From big, hairy tarantulas hiding in trees or lounging on giant leaves to miniscule poison dart frogs – he found everything.

boa constrictor

Have you ever been photobombed by a red tail boa constrictor?  Yes, add that to our day’s unique experiences!

Shamans Do Exist


Carole, and resident shaman, shyly greeted us under a primitive thatch-roofed gazebo. We made a semi-circle around her as she began to tell us her story.

“My grandfather taught me which plants, flowers, roots and bark to use for cures,” she said.  “The most important thing is the diet.  I eat only fish and plantains – no salt, no sugar, no fats.”

It took Carole eight years of training under her grandfather before she was allowed the initiation of choosing her animal spirit.  “At that ceremony, I chose the tiger spirit because it’s a strong feline animal, agile, and they are in the water and on the ground,” she said.

To detect rare or fatal diseases, Carole uses ayahuasca, the hallucinogenic beverage that has special meaning to the Amazon culture. Aya means soul or spirit and huasca means vine.  She creates her ayahuasca with the psychoactive vine banisteriopsis caapi, with the leaves of the shrub psychotria viridis.  The leaves contain the psychoactive agent N,N-Dimethyltryptamine (DMT), similar to psychedelic mushrooms, which intensifies and prolongs the psychotropic effects of the ayahuasca. She adds chacruna leaves, angel trumpet, and tobacco to the brown liquid producing a pungent and bitter taste.

“30 minutes after I drink it, I hallucinate for several hours; I have the ability to speak to the plants, forest and animals to get knowledge from them,” said Carole.  “That’s also how my grandfather saw that I was gifted to be a shaman.”

Additional natural remedies include patchouli root for balding, uncaria tomentosa for fatigue and cancer, dragon blood plant for wounds and acne, and wild garlic mixed with sugarcane to treat rheumatism and cough.

Carole began chanting and then came to each one of us and blew tobacco into our outstretched hands.

“This is a blessing from me to you,” she said.

Night Safari

san francisco peru

On this day, we set out on our skiff in late afternoon.  We cruised past the lush jungle canopy and remote fishing villages.  We stopped for a walk around the small community of San Francisco where we interacted with the children and chatted with the women selling their handicrafts.

delfin amazon cruise

We were back cruising in the skiff when it abruptly stopped.  “Here’s your opportunity to swim in the Amazon,” said Ericson.

The water was dark and the bottom was undeterminable. The water is murky because of the tannic acid in the water, created by trees dropping their leaves and decomposing. The lesser the current, the blacker the water.

swimming in the amazon

But I wasn’t missing my one and only chance to swim in THE Amazon!  I unrobed down to my swimsuit, donned a pair of small goggles, and leaped from the boat into the coffee-colored water.  As a great swath of water rushed up my nose, I realized I’d forgotten to hold it. I was immediately fearful that I’d get sick, but the PH is high enough and nutrients low enough in blackwater that parasites cannot survive.

delfin amazon cruise

As the Amazon’s legendary kaleidoscope sunset approached, we searched for the famous pink-nosed dolphins, which we’d seen just a short distance away.

It began to rain, but our night safari continued as our skiff was skillfully steered into the reeds.  Ericson tried, unsuccessfully, to catch a tiny caiman alligator with his bare hands.

fishing for piranhas

For last event, I was handed a “fishing rod.”  In reality it was just a primitive stick with a string and hook tied to it and a bit of raw meat for bait.  Time to fish for piranha!  By this time it was pouring rain in the pitch-black night, and the only thing biting were the mosquitos, so we before long we called it a day and returned to the warm, cozy Delfin III.

Baby Turtle Rescue

amazon turtle release

From my seat on the skiff, I saw the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve come closer and closer.

“I have a surprise,” said Ericson.  “We’re going to help save baby turtles.”

In the Amazon, yellow spotted river turtles have dwindled in number to the point that they are now considered endangered. The Peruvian government is taking steps to protect the eggs from their natural predators – vultures, iguana, lizards and fish.

I couldn’t hide my smile.  I like to do my part to help nature and the environment whenever possible.

“Every summer, the turtles come up onto the riverbank in the Reserve, dig out the mud, and each one lays 40 to 50 eggs,” said Ericson.  “The rangers collect as many as 10,000 eggs and place them in a sunny incubator.”

At around 60 days, the rangers check to see if any of the babies have hatched, and then keep them for around two months so that their umbilical cords can dry up and fall off, preventing their predators from smelling the blood. The delay also helps and their shells to harden.

Rangers brought over woven baskets filled with the tiny turtles.  I scooped up a couple, the tiny feet tickling my palms, and gently set them down at the water’s edge.  By instinct, they scurried into the murky water.

70% of the saved turtles are released back into the river.  The remaining 30% are sold to aquariums to provide funding to continue the program.

“Only 5 – 10% of the released turtles actually survive,” said Ericson.  “It’s part of the circle of life. They have a lot of predators.”


We loved our adventures on the Delfin Amazon cruise and would highly recommend it to everyone!

Disclosure:  The author was honored to be the guest of AdventureSmith Explorations during her stay in Peru, but as always, the opinions, reviews and experiences are her own.

Adventures on the Amazon first published by World Footprints in 2018.

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About the Author

Patti MorrowPatti Morrow is a freelance travel writer and founder of the award-winning international blog Luggage and Lipstick and the southern travel blog Gone to Carolinas. TripAdvisor called her one of the “20 Baby Boomer Travel Bloggers Having More Fun Than Millennials” and she was named one of the “Top 35 Travel Blogs” in the world.

She is also the star of the upcoming TV series “Destination Takeover” which is scheduled to premiere in the next few months.

Patti is the author of the book “Girls Go Solo: Tips for Women Traveling Alone,” and has over 150 bylines in 40 print and online publications, including The Huffington Post, International Living Magazine, Washington Post Sunday Travel, Travel Girl, Travel Play Live Magazine, and Ladies Home Journal. She has traveled extensively through six continents looking for fabulous destinations, exotic beaches, and adventure activities for her Baby Boomer tribe.


  1. Comment by Yolanda Elliot

    Yolanda Elliot Reply May 19, 2018 at 1:34 am

    I think this Amazon river cruise can help to discover the wildlife-rich rain forests, hidden waterways and small, riverside villages.

  2. Comment by Suzanne Fluhr

    Suzanne Fluhr Reply May 23, 2018 at 12:50 am

    A stay at a jungle lodge on the Amazon down river from Iquitos was one of the highlights of our 1982 honeymoon in Peru. It was a little rustic. No electricity, an overturned tin barrel as our shower. I was enjoying the fauna until I thought a bird had landed next to me at dinner one night. It wasn’t a bird. It was a giant, flying beetle. I don’t do well with insects, especially bird sized beetles.

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