IE Creative Services Editor Emily Harley recently traveled on our Amazon River cruise! Now she shares thoughts on this unique small-ship adventure.

While I’ve already had a wonderful meeting our Expedition Leader Hernando and eating and touring my way around Lima, I know from years at IE that our Amazon tour doesn’t start until we’re on the boat.

Once flying into the frontier city of Iquitos, we boarded a bus bound for the port town of Nauta, where we would embark. Driving along the dark road between Iquitos and Nauta is an adventure in itself. Lush swaths of plants and trees are broken only by intermittent settlements — three or four houses clustered together, where on this Saturday night the people are dancing and socializing right on the edge of the road. This drive is also the first opportunity we have to chat with our fellow travelers and guides. I’m sitting next to naturalist George Davila, who brags to me about the writing award his daughter just won for her compilation of Amazonian lore. Our group is an eclectic mix — a college professor, a nurse, a zoo newsletter editor, a retired kindergarten teacher and boisterous world travelers. Traveling in such a small group — 27 guests including my mom and me — it’s amazing how quickly you get to know your fellow travelers.

When at last we arrived on the dock and boarded motorized skiffs to travel across the Rio Maranon to the waiting Amatista, it was like a true beginning to our expedition. Fishing bats dove into the dark waters as we crossed the river and found our cabins. Guests watch a storm building from the Amatista's top deckAnd a tart Pisco sour was the perfect beginning to seven nights of adventure.

Side note: At this point in the Amazon River cruise, I did actually have cell service. While contact with the “real world” is spotty in the remote jungle, Nauta is a large enough town to have its own cell tower. So, once embarking La Amatista, shoot a note to family in the U.S. assuring them you are safe and they won’t be hearing from you until the end of the week.

I am admittedly biased, but I can’t imagine a better way to spend a week on the Amazon than the Amatista. There are “fancier” options for an Amazon cruise, but frankly, I didn’t want a Caribbean cruise through the jungle…I wanted an expedition! On the covered top deck I was able to laze away my siesta time in the afternoon with a frosty Amazonica beer and a good book. While at meals we enjoyed a buffet of home-style Peruvian dishes, fresh fruit and ice cream. And the ice cream isn’t just plain old vanilla! We actually were treated to a Peruvian fruit flavor – Lucuma (everything comes back to food with me!).

Up next: Hawks, villages and pink dolphins (oh my!) on our excursions. Plus! Beatles night in the heart of the jungle.