Expeditionary cruising in Latin America
When it comes to visiting Latin America’s islands, rivers and remote reaches, water can often represent by far the best (and sometimes only) way to get around.
Our favourite cruises are adventurous in spirit, allowing for far more than a superficial glimpse of the destination thanks to illuminating commentary from expert guides, enthralling land excursions, perhaps even on-board lectures. That said, you need not forgo your creature comforts – our select range of comfortable riverboats, yachts and ships can, if desired, add an element of luxury to the experience of plying the waters of some of the region’s most fascinating and evocative areas.
With the southern tip of South America being the principal gateway for visits to Antarctica, cruises around the White Continent are another speciality. We were one of the first UK operators to offer them and today we are among the foremost experts in travel to Antarctica, with an unusually broad range of vessels to choice from.
But of course Latin America has thousands of kilometres of coastline and the potential for expedition cruising is limitless. Now you can cruise from the Caribbean all the way down the Pacific coast to Antarctica on one expedition ship: not everyone has the time (or money!) to do the whole journey but the voyage is made up of individual shorter cruises averaging a couple of weeks so you can cherry pick the itineraries which most appeal to you.
The dream destination that is the Galápagos is most commonly visited by cruise (though it is possible to stay on land). We offer so many different options that it’s impossible to summarise them all here, but one element remains constant: the astounding creatures that make this paradisiacal archipelago the stage for an ever-enthralling theatre of natural life. No matter at which time of year you visit, or which islands are included in your itinerary, you will always be greeted with wildlife in extraordinary abundance and with no fear of your presence, making this one of the most magical and rewarding places on earth for nature lovers. The islands’ famous role in contributing to our understanding of natural history is a further attraction, and you will learn more about this while on board.
Cruises can last anywhere between 4 and 15 days, and the boats we use range in size, accommodating between 12 and 100 guests. No matter what the overall group size, guided excursions on land will be small and intimate – by law tour groups on the islands can consist of no more than 16 visitors. The daily itinerary is very similar from boat to boat. For advice on how to choose the vessel to best suit your needs see our guide.
Antarctic cruise expeditions
Modern Antarctic travel may be easier and more comfortable than ever before but remains every bit an adventure. And the intense thrill of the unknown as you set sail from the tip of South America towards the planet’s frozen extremes is only the start of what is probably the most powerful and humbling travel experience on offer.
A new generation of smart expedition vessels offering en-suite cabins and attractive surroundings is gradually superseding the Russian-built research ships which pioneered modern-day Antarctic cruise expeditions. But the emphasis remains low key: most carry fewer than 100 passengers and, being members of IAATO, are committed on leaving as little impact as possible.
Expeditions to Antarctica run between October and March and you can choose from an expanding variety of expedition routes. You’ll need a fortnight days for the signature journey to the Antarctic Peninsula and South Shetland Islands. A few departures each season push further south, attempting to cross the Antarctic Circle, while others head for the tabular icebergs of the Weddell Sea. With three weeks to spare, you can wander amid magnificent King penguin rookeries of South Georgia and drop anchor at the quirkily familiar Falkland Islands.
Thankfully, such are the challenges of exploring Antarctica most expeditions barely scratch the surface of this pristine continent. Where you go, when, and in what order is ultimately at the mercy of nature. Itineraries are for guidance only and there are no guarantees. The on-board camaraderie among passengers and crew as the unexpected happens can be an especially powerful aspect of Antarctic travel. Whether it’s the euphoria of witnessing a whale breaching an iceberg-choked channel or the urge to get back on board in the biting cold of a sudden blizzard – it’s all part of a shared adventure.
At Journey Latin America, ten of us have been privileged to visit Antarctica. We are ready to share our experiences, answer your questions and plan your expedition of a lifetime.
The Amazon accounts for roughly one fifth of the world's total river flow by volume.
Journey along the almost inconceivably vast river artery of the world’s largest rainforest: what better way to see the Amazon than by boat. This is the jungle wilderness of your childhood imagination, populated by colourful, very vocal animal and bird life and towered over by an immense canopy of buttress-rooted trees.
The river boats we offer will make the experience a more comfortable one than you might have imagined, allowing you to simply focus on the sights, sounds and activities – piranha fishing, the eyes of caimans suddenly picked up by torchlight on a night expedition, locals passing by in their dug-out canoes, toucans flying overhead. All the while the steamy, verdant scenery drifting by will continually ignite your sense of wonder.
It’s possible to visit the Amazon from several countries and Amazonian cruising is no exception. We offer departures from Manaus in Brazil, along the River Napo in Ecuador (the MV Manatee) and from Iquitos in Peru: the starting point for two of our favourites. For modern luxury in the Peruvian jungle, board the Aria or Aqua boats, with their air-conditioning, indulgently comfortable suite cabins and gourmet local food. Itineraries of 4, 5 or 8 days are possible, sailing along Amazon tributaries to areas seldom visited. For a more rustic expedition, closer to the authentic river life of those who live in Amazon regions, go for the MV Tucano which also departs from Iquitos. A traditional wooden Amazon riverboat, custom-built locally, it is beautifully constructed and finished using hard rosewood, lending a marvellous nautical atmosphere during its 5- or 7-day cruises.
Early mornings can be wonderfully cool before the tropical heat rises and envelops you. The sunsets are frequently spectacular as an orange burst descends over the tree canopy and gradually disappears to bring in the nocturnal sounds of the jungle. Dawn is another time for great light and photos. And there is nothing like standing on the deck at night, with just the dark jungle around you, no noise except that of its wild inhabitants, and a blanket of stars above you.