You may want to throw out your timetable and pack a hammock for these watery journeys through the jungles of South America. These are the ultimate in river adventure with a feast of bird life, forest and local culture on display.
The world’s largest river has to be on your to-boat list but it’s not for the faint hearted especially when you consider anacondas and piranhas call this home. Picture the world’s longest river that is not crossed by a single bridge, fabulous ecosystems, jungle culture, six adjoining nations and 3,728 miles to explore and it should be more than enough to wet your appetite.
- Tigre, Argentina
Thousands of islands and inlets, water channels, rivers and backwaters form this sub-tropical wilderness right in Buenos Aires’s backyard. Cruise out from the northern suburbs of the city onto the Parana River past colonial mansions and houses on stilts into the delta region.
- Iguazu Falls, Argentina
These unforgettable falls with their 275 cascades are spread in a horseshoe shape over more than 1.8 miles. Long river approaches are possible along both the Parana and Iguazu Rivers. Both are equally spectacular with numerous smaller waterfalls, exotic forests and islets to admire before they converge just 14.3 miles from the falls.
- Patagonian fjords, Chile
Imagine drinking whiskey with ice from a glacier thousands of years old. It should be more than enough to keep you warm in this maze of lakes and waterfalls. There’s also a rich assortment of wildlife with anything from condors to flamingos, ibis and pumas.
- New River, Belize
If you’ve seen the Mel Gibson film Apocalypto you’ll have a fair idea of what you’re getting into at Lamanai - think big jungle, isolation, religious rituals and exotic wildlife. Lamanai is a Mayan site and it is uniquely located in complete jungle by a lagoon at the end of a 25.5 mile river approach.
- Anavilhanas Archipelago, Brazil
In Brazil’s rainy season this marvelous freshwater archipelago looks like a floating forest. The 400 islands become almost completely submerged by waters and the boundless creeks and channels that form invite exploration.
- Rio Negro, Brazil
Rivaling the Congo for a claim to a heart of darkness for its appearance, the black waters of the Rio Negro aren’t really that sinister and are in fact a result of tea trees on its banks. It is best attempted in the wet season when a succession of lagoons, islands and intricate channels develop which can be romantically visited from a houseboat.
- The Lakes Region, Argentina
This region includes beautiful national parks, virgin forests, crystalline waters and the white peaks of the Andes Mountains. From Bariloche you can take a two-day journey across the lakes into Chile.
- Lake Titicata, Bolivia
With 36 islands to explore in sapphire-blue water, this immense lake is a cruising dream. Two of the islands are considered the legendary sites of Inca creation myths and on Isla Suriqui you can test out your skills in the local totora reed boats.
- Orinocco River, Venezuela
The word Orinoco means “a place to paddle” or a “navigable place” which is good news for river cruises. The delta region covering Barrancas and Piacoa is constantly changing but dredging keeps the main channels open. These are fun to explore by small boat while visiting caves, forest, marshes, mangroves and local tribes.