Winding through isolated villages and pristine landscapes, rivers provide the main highway — and only way to access — some of Earth’s most fascinating lands. For 2014, International Expeditions is expanding our travel options on the legendary waters of the Peruvian Amazon and Papua New Guinea’s Sepik River. IE will offer two Amazon River cruise options aboard the newly launched La Estrella Amazonica and a small-group Papua New Guinea tour using the nine-cabin Sepik Spirit as a base for excursions.
Travelers are responding to the lure of the river in record numbers. According to a 2013 Boston Globe report, river cruising is one of the fastest growing segments in the travel market, showing annual double-digit growth for more than a decade.
Hailed as the #1 river for travelers by CNN , the Amazon River plays host to more than 1,300 species of birds, an abundance of primates and even pink river dolphins. The riverbanks and surrounding rainforest are also home to Yagua Indians and other river cultures. IE has offered Upper Amazon tours for 34 years, and recently unveiled a new custom-designed riverboat. La Estrella Amazonica offers amenities and “extras” found on no other boat in the region. Highlighting the riverboat are private balconies for every cabin, multimedia lecture room, fitness center, Hobie kayaks, a nightly reception with complimentary wine and beer, and the Amazon’s largest observation deck — more than 1,000 square feet. IE guests can choose between two distinct Amazon cruises. The 10-day Amazon Voyage  pairs a seven-night cruise into the Pacaya-Samiria Reserve with time touring colonial Lima and the frontier city of Iquitos. IE’s new 7-day Amazon Riverboat & Lodge  option combines three nights on the river with overnights at Ceiba Tops Lodge and in Lima.
From a base at the boutique floating hotel and former riverboat Sepik Spirit, IE guests delve into the traditional beliefs and rituals of the Sepik River. Guided excursions on the 15-day Papua New Guinea tour  include meeting the Huli “wig men,” crocodile people and other tribes; visiting village spirit houses filled with ornate carvings depicting each village’s history; and observing birdlife such as cassowaries, lorikeets and birds of paradise. Travelers also spend two days at the famed Mount Hagen Sing-Sing.