From the Amazon to the Mississippi, a river cruise will carry you to extraordinary destinations, fascinating sights and architectural wonders. Here we explore the world’s most intriguing rivers

Amazon

Amazon
As wild as you imagined – brightly coloured parakeets squarking overhead, monkeys chattering in the rain forest that stretches away on either shore. The river teems with pink dolphins, caiman, turtles and much more. The five-million-acre Pacaya-Samiria Reserve is the world’s largest protected flooded forest and a favourite excursion is a skiff ride at sunrise. Other treats include piranha fishing, jungle walks (where you might see a three-toed sloth) and visits to villages to learn about life and customs of people whose ancestors have lived here for centuries. Many river cruises start in Iquitos, in Peru, the world’s largest city that cannot be reached by road; a cosmopolitan place with elegant architecture thanks to the rubber boom of a century ago. But the Amazon is so big that small ocean cruise ships also sail the river, reaching the major city of Manaus, much farther downstream, from where other cruises also depart. In contrast is the tiny village of Boca da Valeria with its wooden houses on stilts. Wherever you sail, the Amazon is a paradise of extraordinary sights and sounds far removed from the outside world.