Amazon river panorama (Shutterstock: see credit below)
List 28 May

12 adventurous river cruises

River cruises unlock hard-to-reach places and thrilling wildlife experiences – and offer new perspectives on well-trodden destinations

1. Navigate the Nile, Egypt

The Original Nile Cruise, Voyages Jules Verne
How long? 8-10 nights


Cruise ships docked at Kom Ombo on the Nile (Shutterstock)
Cruise ships docked at Kom Ombo on the Nile (Shutterstock)

Glide past ancient sites and unchanged scenes of Egyptian life on The Original Nile Cruise from Voyages Jules Verne. After a visit to the pyramids you’ll hop aboard in Cairo and sail south down the reopened route to Luxor (until recently you could only start in Luxor and head south), stopping to explore lesser-known wonders, temples and catacombs at Beni Hassan, Amarna, Abydos and Denderah.

2. Wade into wild waters, Canada

Mighty St Lawrence Voyage, Discover the World
How long? 10 nights


The coast of Perce in Gaspesie (Shutterstock)
The coast of Perce in Gaspesie (Shutterstock)

Spot harp seals and 13 types of whale – including belugas and mighty blues – as you navigate the world’s largest estuary on Discover the World’s Mighty St Lawrence Voyage. You’ll disembark to explore three national parks (Anticosti, the Magdalen Islands and the Gaspésie), both on-shore and by Zodiac. Photographer Dan Bailey will be on hand with expert advice to help you do the scenery justice.

3. Marvel at Myanmar/Burma

Burma Luxury Irrawaddy River Cruise, Regent Holidays
How long? 15 days


Sunset on the Irrawaddy (Shutterstock)
Sunset on the Irrawaddy (Shutterstock)

See the best of Burma from the deck of the Orcaella on Regent Holidays’ Burma Luxury Irrawaddy River Cruise. Take in the pagodas of Yangon, then drift down the Irrawaddy via the cliff carvings of Akauk Taung, the stupas of Sri Kittara and more, before watching sunset over Bagan and spending a night on Inle Lake.

4. Cruising in Kalimantan, Indonesia & Borneo

Java & Kalimantan Adventure, Selective Asia
How long? 3 nights

Banjarmasin, Kalimantan (Shutterstock)
Banjarmasin, Kalimantan (Shutterstock)

Orang utans, pygmy elephants and proboscis monkeys all live in Borneo’s Tanjung Puting NP. Travel into the heart of the park on a traditional klotok riverboat as part of Selective Asia’s Java & Kalimantan Adventure, which combines wildlife spotting with treks and visits to indigenous communities, plus Camp Leakey orang utan research base.

5. Discover the Danube, Germany & Austria

The Danube by Bike & Boat, UTracks
How long? 8 days


Danube river (Shutterstock)
Danube river (Shutterstock)

Mix river cruising with self-guided cycle touring on UTracks’ The Danube by Bike & Boat. Meet the great river in Passau, then sail through the Danube Valley, stopping to enjoy the delights of Vienna and pedal along the banks, striking out for medieval villages, castles, forests and vineyards en route.  


6. Head for Halong Bay, Vietnam

Halong Bay and the Red River, Small Cruise Ship Collection
How long? 11 days


Floating village and rock islands in Halong Bay, Vietnam (Shutterstock)
Floating village and rock islands in Halong Bay, Vietnam (Shutterstock)

The Small Cruise Ship Collection’s Halong Bay and the Red River cruise follows the course of Vietnam’s Song (red) and Da (black) rivers and allows you to float between the limestone pinnacles of Halong Bay, the hustle of Hanoi and the remote villages of the highlands.

7. Take tea with tribes, India & Bhutan

Brahmaputra River Cruise & Bhutan, Mountain Kingdoms
How long? 17 days


Brahmaputra river (Shutterstock)
Brahmaputra river (Shutterstock)

Combine a tour of Bhutan (Punakha dzong, Thimphu, the Paro Valley) with a cruise through north India on Mountain Kingdoms’ Brahmaputra River Cruise & Bhutan. Board a luxurious boat to visit tea plantations, spot rhino in Kaziranga NP and meet the locals on Majuli Island.

8. Track jaguars by boat, Brazil

Just Jaguars, Wildlife Worldwide
How long? 9 days


Amazonian riverboat (Shutterstock)
Amazonian riverboat (Shutterstock)

The Pantanal and Talama Reserve are jaguar-spotting central. Maximise your chances of seeing these cats on Wildlife Worldwide’s Just Jaguars expedition. Staying aboard an Amazonian riverboat you’ll travel with an expert naturalist, using smaller vessels to explore narrow creeks where jaguar are known to roam.

9. Voyage to lemurs and lost worlds, Madagascar

Tsiribihina River Cruise, Audley
How long? 10 nights


Tsiribihina river (Shutterstock)
Tsiribihina river (Shutterstock)

Audley’s Tsiribihina River Cruise by private boat opens up areas that can’t be accessed by road, offering insights into remote villages and rare wildlife. You’ll also visit the Grand Tsingy Stone Forest, the forests of Kirindy Reserve and the iconic Avenue of Baobabs.


10. Mix water and wine, France

Rivers of the French Atlantic Coast, Ramblers Worldwide Holidays
How long? 8 nights


Chateau of the Loire Valley (Shutterstock)
Chateau of the Loire Valley (Shutterstock)

Set sail from Dover, drift down the Loire and the Garonne and stroll through the wine country of Médoc on Ramblers Holidays’ Rivers of the French Atlantic Coast. First stop is the medieval city of Nantes, where you’ll visit the Castle of the Dukes of Brittany, followed by Bordeaux and Chateau Lamothe-Cissac, for a wine tasting session. On the homeward leg, you’ll travel via the historic city of La Rochelle and the seaside village of La Flotte.

11. Have an Amazonian adventure, Peru

Amazon Riverboat Adventure, KE Adventure Travel
How long? 9 days


Traditional house on the Amazon river in Iquitos (Shutterstock)
Traditional house on the Amazon river in Iquitos (Shutterstock)

On KE’s Amazon Riverboat Adventure you’ll sail from the Peruvian city of Iquitos, and explore the country’s largest national park, the Pacaya-Samiria Reserve, by riverboat. En route you’ll visit rainforest settlements, paddle through mangroves in a dugout canoe and go fishing for piranha (a local staple food). With both day and night walks on the agenda there will also be plenty of opportunity for wildlife spotting – keep an eye out for toucans, sloths and pink river dolphins.

12. Venture into the jungle, Papua New Guinea & Indonesia

New Guinea Circle, Aurora Expeditions
How long? 25 days


Limestone islands in Raja Ampat, Indonesia (Shutterstock)
Limestone islands in Raja Ampat, Indonesia (Shutterstock)

Embark on a voyage of discovery along the Sepik River, spot Birds of Paradise and encounter seldom-visited New Guinean tribes as part of Aurora Expeditions’ 25-day New Guinea Circle tour. Also among the highlights is a cruise through Raja Ampat, an archipelago home to 75% of the world’s coral and fish species, including manta rays and wonderfully bizarre specimens like carpet sharks. You’ll also visit the Spice Islands before finishing in the Australian city of Darwin.


Main image: Amazon river panorama (Shutterstock)