Three Rivers that joins millions of hearts...
CRUISE ON THE ORINOCO RIVER
When to Go: You can expect short afternoon showers and higher water levels during the rainy season, which runs from May to December. From late January to late March/April, the weather is dry, so you'll see more land mammals (capybaras, foxes, anteaters) and less aquatic mammals. Trips are available all year.
How long: Trips last anywhere from one to three nights, depending on how far into the jungle you go and when you go. Trips during the dry season are shorter.
Planning; Depending on who organises your trip, the quality of accommodation varies. The nights can be spent in hammocks beneath shelters in traditional Warao villages, or in private cabins with a bathroom, running water, and electricity.
|Large Waterlilies float on the Yanaycu River, Amazon|
A classic riverboat cruise along the Amazon provides an unforgettable introduction to the region's fascinating wildlife, rain forests, and people. It's easy to forget that the Amazon is the world's largest river as you glide over its broad, muddy waters. It rises in Peru's Andes Mountains and descends over 3,700 miles (6,000 kilometres) to the Atlantic. Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia, and Venezuela provide tributaries, forming a river system that drains the entire northern half of South America.
Large luxury ships ply the river, but a traditional two-decked riverboat provides a more intimate, relaxing experience—and brings you closer to the rain forest's diverse plant and animal life. Standing on the deck, you'll see friendly children waving from among the foliage, as well as local fishermen casting nets from the banks or kneeling in their dugout canoes. You can visit Indian tribal villages and explore the rain forest—frightening, strange, and stunningly beautiful—as you travel deeper into the jungle and the canopy begins to block out the sunlight—or visit calm lagoons adorned with giant waterlilies.
While fishing for piranhas onboard, listen to the echoes of monkeys and exotic birds, and in the evening, wrap up warm and head out in a canoe through the dusky twilight in search of sluggish alligators sliding half-submerged through the water. When dusk falls, the boat glides silently downstream, where the river's blackness is occasionally illuminated by a lantern or cooking fire, and you can listen to the rich sounds of jungle life.
Mosquito repellent is required, as are light cotton long-sleeved shirts and trousers. Protect electronic items, such as cameras, from the high humidity by putting them in clear plastic bags. Many cruise ships have luggage restrictions, so pack light.
When Should: Because of the abundance of fruit, the peak flood season in April and May is the best time for bird-watching and seeing primates. Some areas may become inaccessible during the low-water season (July-February), but animals will flock to the dry riverbanks for a drink.
How long: The majority of organised cruises last eight days and explore the river's lower reaches.
THE THREE GORGES OF THE YANGTZE RIVER
Travel through China's most famous river, the Three Gorges, past ancient sites and modern engineering marvels. From its source in the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau to its mouth on the East China Sea, just north of Shanghai, the Yangtze River flows 3,964 miles (6,380 kilometres) across China. Despite the fact that the river is no longer the great commercial highway it once was, a variety of passenger ships still travel along its most famous section, where it rushes through the narrow and winding Three Gorges. The yellowing sails of traditional sampan boats can be seen bobbing next to the smart white hulls of hi-tech modern tourist vessels, and forbidding cliffs cast a shadow on cruise ship, coal barge, and fishing vessel alike. There is also the attraction of visiting the world's most colossal dam, a newly completed great wall of steel and concrete, 600 feet (180 metres) high and more than one mile (1.6 kilometres) across, in addition to various side trips up tributaries and to temples that have been relocated to save them from flooding.
When to Go: The best time is in the early fall. It's possible that you'll be there during the Harvest Moon Festival, when families reunite and gather outside to see and celebrate the year's brightest moon.
How long: An one-hour bus ride to or from Yichang begins or ends each trip. Chongging can be reached in three or four nights by cruise ship, or in around 12 hours by hydrofoil (Sandouping-Wanxiano, which includes bus connections to Yichang and Chongqing).
Planning: Instead of booking in advance through agents or websites, you can save up to 60% by booking at the docks in Yichang or Chongqing.