After flying from Lima to Iquitos, I was met by my Delfin guide, Renny, who escorted me to the Delfin I. Normally the embarkation point is an hour and a half drive to Nauta, but the road had been washed out due to all the rain (it is now repaired).
The Delfin I is the smaller of the two boats with 4, 620 square foot cabins styled with Peruvian wood and luxurious Peruvian Pima cotton textiles. Floor to ceiling windows look out onto a private terrace affording a beautiful view of the river and jungle. The bottom two cabins have private plunge pools on their respective decks. The cabins are air-conditioned and of course en-suite with hot water showers.
The beauty of the cabins and all the common spaces lies in the simplicity and elegance of the design, all intended to bring nature on board. I immediately felt comfortable and wowed in this truly luxurious, serene environment. There was a little item of décor to discover every time I looked around.
There are at least two excursions daily aboard skiffs with fascinating trips up tributaries into the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve. The Delfin I sails mostly on the Marañon River and the Delfin II sails on the Ucayali River. These two large rivers form the mighty Amazon River. Both boats sail to the mouth of the Amazon, which is quite impressive, then Delfin prefers to sail the Marañon and Ucayali rivers into the national reserve where there is more wildlife and less river traffic.
Birds and wildlife are plentiful with your expert guide who most likely grew up in one of the many villages scattered throughout the jungle. Binoculars and a camera with zoom lens are recommended for the best viewing and photography. I saw numerous birds including the blue macaw, parrots and toucan, the grey dolphins, 3-toed sloth, the 2-toed hairy sloth, several kinds of monkeys and caimans during our night safari. The jungle walk was uber-cool! A local young man from the village accompanied us and went off the path into the jungle to find “things” for us. He came back with two different kinds of poison dart frogs, a tarantula and an anaconda, which we had to go off path to see. Who knew they had teal spots? It was thrilling to see all of these creatures from the safety of a big plant leaf held in his hand.
For those who want to fish, there is a piranha catch and release fishing excursion at dusk before the night safari. I don’t fish but did touch the sharp piranha teeth before it was thrown back in. My fellow passengers seemed to have a lot of fun competing to see who caught the most and largest.
Other activities include kayaking and swimming. Yes, swimming in one of the tributaries where contrary to all questions asked of me, piranha don’t bite you nor do you get some nasty bacteria from the water! I am living proof, as is Jane who also swam on her Delfin II trip. Neither of us was lucky enough to swim with the pink dolphins although many of the passengers do get to experience them.
Bugs. The other question most commonly asked about travel in the Amazon. While Jane had a remarkably different experience, I did not use any kind of bug repellent at all. I did wear long sleeves, long pants and the always-fashionable socks with my Teva sandals on the skiff excursions. I wore short pants (no socks) when I went swimming and kayaking and still did not have an issue with bug bites. At night at the bar and in the upstairs lounge, I did get a couple of mosquito bites, but nothing different than in the States. It depends on whether you attract bugs or not – I happen to be lucky enough on that front but the others on my trip were not bothered by excessive bites either.
Food on board the Delfin is delicious! One of my fellow passengers described each meal as an “event” and even though you’re not really hungry, you can’t wait for the next experience. Your expert chefs cook Peruvian food with an emphasis on Amazonian fruits and vegetables. They are plating artists so every dish is almost too beautiful to eat. With a 30-day advance notice, every dietary request can be accommodated. I’m a vegetarian and was delighted to have a few meals with faux-meats, or grilled hard cheese for protein. There were five of us on board and the chefs cooked 3 different meals, as one couple ate no seafood. For every meal, the tabletop décor is changed, along with napkins, dishes and curtains!
There will be a village stop where you can interact with the villagers, see how they live and purchase handicrafts if so desired. The shopping experience is relatively low-key.
Delfin is owned and managed by a Peruvian couple, Aldo and Lissy, who are invested in creating sustainability for the Amazon villages. They buy table décor and other items from the villages along with local fruits and vegetables, assist with schools and medical care. Lissy with exquisite taste is the interior designer and responsible for the beautifully decorated spaces. Their onboard staff is local and knowledgeable about the rivers, tributaries, fauna and wildlife. You’ll find a friendly bartender, wait staff who explain every dish and a cabin crew that cleans your cabin without you ever seeing them. The service is unobtrusive – every detail is taken care of and every need is anticipated. Being on the Delfin I reminded me of my Aman experience.
One of the many things I loved about sailing on the Delfin I was the variety of new experiences from the jungle wildlife to the food. I got to see a cashew – had no idea how they grew but now know why they’re expensive. When we expressed curiosity about the huge cacao on our dining table, the chef hacked it open to show us the cacao seeds, incorporated them in our ice cream dessert, and explained the cacao process. Fyi, you suck on the seeds which taste nothing like cacao / chocolate – biting a raw seed will be bitter. Biting the fruit of a cashew will be one of the most astringent tastes you’ve ever had.
I did a quick site inspection on the Delfin II that has 14 cabins styled in the same Peruvian woods and luxurious Pima cotton textiles. Each cabin has huge windows to watch the jungle go by, there is a bar, outdoor lounge, a cardio machine, spa room and air conditioned lounge complete with audio visual equipment.
Peru can be known for its labor strikes and our day of disembarkment found a large construction strike in Iquitos. Delfin sent an armed policeman to escort us to the airport just in case of trouble. There was none as the protest was over and just the burned tires were visible in the streets. That is however the kind of attention to detail that Delfin provides.
I’ll end like I started: Guau! Magnifico! Fabuloso! Hermosa! (by kiki paris)Tags: Amazon Cruises, cruse in Amazon, iquitos cruises, luxury cruise amazon