Wildlife Group Tour

Amazon Cruise - Wildlife and Communities with Benedict Allen

The indigenous communities of the Amazon in conjunction with Telegraph Tours

10 days

from £4,850pp
  • Travel with one of the world's greatest explorers and meet three distinct Amazonian tribes
  • Exclusive voyage to Steppes Travel and The Telegraph, sailing into the Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve
  • Spend a night under canvas in the Amazon jungle on a luxury camping excursion
  • Explore the Yasuni National Park, one of the most biologically diverse places on earth

Join Steppes Travel on our exclusive river cruise through the Ecuadorian Amazon, accompanied by Benedict Allen. Swim and kayak with pink river dolphin in the Napo River, camp out on the shores of the Amazon, encounter extraordinary wildlife in Yasuni National Park and the remote Cuyabeno wildlife reserve and meet with local Amazonian communities to understand their distinct way of life. 

Benedict is a remarkable explorer and adventurer and the only known person to have crossed the Amazon Basin at its widest points, immersing himself in the jungle with remote indigenous people and learning skills to survive along the way. Benedict will accompany the cruise along the Napo River, the largest tributary of the mighty Amazon, and along the Aguarico River, travelling deep into the Amazon rainforest. This is a unique itinerary - no other boat travels to all of these areas.

Meet with three indigenous communities – Cofan, Siona and Kichwa, each with their own language and customs. On this trip, Benedict, our naturalist guides and the indigenous people you will meet will give insight into the knowledge and resourcefulness required to survive in the Amazon rainforest.  Learn how to identify and use medicinal plants; learn which plants (and animals) are edible and how best to cook them; and learn how to craft the natural resources of the jungle into the materials needed for producing everything from hammocks to cooking pots. Explore both the UNESCO Yasuni National Park, the most biologically diverse spot on earth, and the remote and little visited Cuyabeno wildlife reserve. There will be time for exploring on foot and by kayak looking at the many birds, primates, caiman, pink river dolphin and other animals that live in the area. With three English speaking naturalist guides on board in addition to Benedict Allen you can be assured of receiving personalised and insightful narrative on Amazon wildlife, ecology and anthropology.

Why should I join this group?

This is an exceptional opportunity to travel to remote areas of the Ecuadorian Amazon, accompanied by Benedict Allen. A unique trip in terms of communities and regions visited but also travelling with Benedict, bringing with him his passion and wealth of knowledge of the Amazon and indigenous people.

Spend a night in the Amazon jungle on a luxury camping excursion

While in the Amazon, there will be the opportunity to sleep a night off the boat as part of a small group. While the service, comfort and atmosphere on board the Anakonda will be hard to resist, a night under canvas in the Amazon gives an opportunity for complete immersion in the jungle environment. To wake in a rainforest to a chorus of bird-song is a memorable start to anyone’s day. This experience has been refined to offer a comfortable sleepover in state of the art deluxe tents. While we encourage everyone on board to make the most of this opportunity, the jungle camping experience is optional and so should you prefer to stay on board the Anakonda, there will be staff on board to look after you.

What wildlife will I see IN THE AMAZON?

There will be the opportunity to see a rich diversity of wildlife. Yasuni National Park is home to at least 596 bird species (one-third of the total native bird species for the Amazon) and in a single hectare, there are over 100,000 different species of insects, the same amount found in the whole of North America. The numbers are mind-boggling and difficult to comprehend. Only when you have seen, felt, smelt and heard it for yourself, will you begin to appreciate the sheer scale and bio-diversity of the Amazon.

By its very nature, the wildlife of the jungle is not always easy to see. For best results, patience is required along with the skill and knowledge of naturalist guides and a bit of luck of course! During the voyage, you will likely see pygmy marmosets, saki, spider, capuchin, howler and woolly monkey; an incredible variety of birds, which include blue and yellow macaw, scarlet macaw, toucan, cormorants and heron; and marine life may include pink dolphins, caiman, charapa turtle and if lucky, manatee.

What is the boat like?

The Anakonda is a traditional Amazonian riverboat in design but with the atmosphere and decor of a boutique hotel. There are 18 suites with wall to wall panoramic windows allowing you to lie in large comfortable beds and watch the rainforest glide by. There is also an expansive observation deck, an outdoor jacuzzi and outdoor lounge. Two large canoes (with seating for 18) are used for excursions and activities and 10 double kayaks are available for use during the trip.

Meals are served either in the dining room or in the outdoor lounge area. Breakfast is buffet style whilst lunch and dinner are a la carte. The food is fresh with a tropical influence, and borrows from many of Ecuador’s national dishes for its flavours and presentation.

In short, the Anakonda is an exceptional, high-end base from which to explore the Amazon. See what Steppes’ Latin America product consultant thought of the boat and the experience board by reading Kate’s blog. 

What will the weather be like in August in the Amazon?

The weather at the Ecuadorian Amazon basin is mainly humid and warm with rain likely at any time. Whilst downpours can be heavy they rarely last long before the sun comes out again. Temperatures are likely to range between 22oC and 27oC.

Can I extend my stay in Ecuador?

Yes of course and there are many more things to see and do in Ecuador. Spend time in the highlands visiting local markets where the Andean communities come together to sell their produce; stay in a traditional hacienda; travel through the Avenue of the Volcanoes, a road that winds its way through some of the most impressive volcanoes in the country; or for more wildlife head to the Galapagos Islands located one and a half hours off the coast.

Departing on:
  • 10th August 2018

For a detailed itinerary or to book your place on this tour, please contact us.

STARTFINISHPrice Excluding Flights £Flight cost fromSingle SupplementTour LecturerStatus 
10th Aug 2018 19th Aug 2018 £ 4,850 £ 1,300 £ 3,395 Benedict Allen Limited
  Click here to see what is included/excluded

what is included

  • 24 hour assistance whilst travelling
  • Travel with Benedict Allen
  • Accommodation in Quito on a bed and breakfast basis
  • Welcome meal in Quito on 11th August
  • Return economy flights from Quito to Amazon
  • Accommodation on the Anakonda boat on a full board basis
  • Three English speaking guides on the Anakonda for daily excursions
  • Glamping option during the Amazon cruise (subject to conditions)

what is excluded

  • Gratuities
  • Drinks on the Anakonda
  • Visa
  • Travel Insurance
  • International Flights


Itinerary at a glance

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Day 1

Arrive in Quito
Today arrive in Quito, you will be met and transferred to the Patio Andaluz. The day is free to rest and relax after your flight or begin to explore the city.

With Pichincha Volcano on one side and Machangara Gorge on the other with the equator passing directly through, few cities can rival Quito's setting. Few also can match the splendour of its old town, with its colonial churches, mansions and plazas.

Quito was named as a World Cultural Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1978. This historical city sits at 2,850 metres and has the largest and best preserved historic centre and colonial quarters in Latin America.

You will be staying at Patio Andaluz, Bed & Breakfast

Day 2

Day at Leisure in Quito
Wander the cobbled streets of this historic city, visiting Independence Square and San Francisco square with their ornate churches. Visit the impressive Basilica del Voto Nacional, a church with unique architecture, mystical gargoyles and a glass fronted café in the tower with incredible views. Take a walk down La Ronda, the oldest street in Quito, with small cafes and shops. Explore the artisan markets, and spend time in some fascinating museums that include Casa del Alabado for pre-Colombian art, the Guayasamin Museum for contemporary arts, and the Intinan Museum to see the true equator line.

Catch the cable car up Pichincha Volcano at 4,100-metres for stunning views of Quito and the surrounding area.

There will be a welcome meal this evening at a restaurant in Quito

You will be staying at Patio Andaluz, Bed & Breakfast

Day 3

Fly Quito to Coca

Arrive in the Amazon
Arrive in the small town of Coca (Francisco de Orellana) and transfer to the Anakonda Amazon Cruise lounge for some refreshments before travelling in motorised boats down the Napo River. Your main luggage will be taken separately so have raincoats and cameras in hand luggage. The journey to meet the Anakonda will take about one hour, travelling along the great Napo River through pristine rainforest landscape.

Once on board the Anakonda, the boat will sail down the Napo River towards the border with Peru. During this time, lunch will be served, after which the concierge will talk about the program for the next seven days and what to expect. Each day the naturalist guides will give onboard lectures on different aspects of the Amazon and during the course of the cruise, Benedict Allen will give three informal lectures about his life as an explorer with particular emphasis given to his Amazon adventures.

After dinner, an evening walk will offer the first opportunity to discover the forest's nocturnal activity and to listen to the incessant sounds of nature in the Amazon rainforest.

The Amazon region in Ecuador is located to the east of the Andes mountain range. Within this vast green wilderness are numerous national parks and forest reserves sparsely populated with indigenous communities where you can experience the rainforest, its people, and myriad of wildlife.

River dolphin, tapir, capybara, caiman, monkeys plus countless species of birds are just a few of the magical animals that hide in these forests. Mostly unexplored and more biologically diverse than the enchanting Galapagos Islands, the opportunity to stay in one of Ecuador’s jungle lodges, lost deep in the rainforest, is a life enriching experience.

You will be staying at Anakonda, Full board

Day 4

Aguarico River and Cocaya
Today the Anakonda will continue downstream towards Peru´s border. During this time, guides will be on the observation deck with binoculars and you can join them to look out for wildlife. After breakfast explore the Napo River by canoe, an 18 passenger paddle boat, and visit an island which has a different ecosystem, with wildlife such as the umbrella bird, blue and yellow macaw, cormorants, saki monkeys and caiman as well as endemic plants.

After lunch, the Anakonda navigates along the Aguarico River until reaching Cocaya, an area home to the legendary pink river dolphin. Later continue exploring the Cocaya creek and small lakes of this special flooded ecosystem.

You will be staying at Anakonda, Full board

Day 5

Aguarico River, Lagartococha Ecosystem and Sionas
Continue along the Aguarico River until you reach Lagartococha in the Cuyabeno National Reserve. Lagartococha is a river and lake system surrounded by pristine rainforest. It is a beautiful area in the Amazon containing a wide variety of natural ecosystems including black and white water rivers, lakes, marshes and flooded forests. After breakfast disembark to explore the Lagartochoca area with the opportunity to swim around pink dolphins.

Travel by canoe for around two and a half hours until you reach the Siona community. Spend time learning how they live, farm and hunt. A picnic lunch will be served before you continue exploring black water lakes looking for saki, howler and tamarind monkeys as well as many birds including macaws, cormorants and egrets.

You will be staying at Anakonda, Full board

Day 6

Cofan Community
After an early breakfast, disembark and visit the Cofan community. The Cofan are among the oldest surviving indigenous cultures in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Have a guided walk where you will be able to step on the very lands in which this culture was formed. Also learn about the medicinal plants found in the Amazon and taste the casabe, a flat tortilla made of native cassava.

The Cofan people depend on the forest and rivers around their territories for many of the most basic aspects of sustenance - food, water, transportation, medicinal plants and materials for producing everything from hammocks to cooking pots.

You will be staying at Anakonda, Full board

Day 7

Yasuni National Park
Today navigate with the flow back down the Aguarico River until you reach the Napo River. After breakfast explore the heart of the Yasuni National Park, the most biologically diverse park in the world. It breaks many records for its sheer volume of amphibian, reptile, bat, bird and mammal species richness and there are more species of trees in a single hectare than in all of Europe. Visit Jatun Cocha, the biggest lake in the Ecuadorian Amazon, and kayak along the Jatun Cocha Creek, looking for the giant river otters. A barbecue lunch will be served around the lake, allowing time for some relaxation in this remote wilderness. After lunch continue exploring the incredible Yasuni National Park.

You will be staying at Anakonda, Full board

Day 8

Kichwa Family
Disembark this morning to visit the Oraco family, a Kichwa family who will explain how they live in the Amazon today. After lunch explore the Huarmi Yuturi area looking for manatees and other wildlife including spider and woolly monkeys and pygmy marmosets. There will be more opportunities for kayaking and to try some piranha fishing.

You will be staying at Anakonda, Full board

Day 9

Sani Warmi Kichwa Community and Canopy Tower
Today start early to visit the Sani Warmi Kichwa community, where a group of Kichwa women will talk about their customs and way of life. This morning, there will also be an opportunity to visit a cooking lessons project and learn how to make your own Amazon handicraft.

In the afternoon board a canoe for a short ride to visit another unique lake and walk to the top of a canopy tower with amazing views over the rainforest.

You will be staying at Anakonda, Full board

Day 10

Disembark the Anakonda and Return to Quito
After an early breakfast visit a turtle conservation project which the Anakonda supports in collaboration with the Wildlife Conservation Society. The charapa turtle is a freshwater turtle that lives in rivers, marshes, lakes and shallow lagoons in the Amazon. The aim of the Charapas Project is to protect the existing wild turtles and to assist the animals with controlled breeding and egg protection with a view to repopulating this endemic species.

The species is at risk of extinction in the wild, due to hunting and gathering of its eggs. The oil extracted from the turtle's eggs is renowned locally for its medicinal and cosmetic properties. The turtle program has influenced the community's perception of turtle conservation and instead of hunting the adults and eggs, they now protect them.

Late morning disembark the Anakonda and transfer back to Coca by motorised canoe (a journey of one hour) for your flight to Quito.

Fly Coca to Quito

Departure from Quito
Arrive back into Quito airport to connect with you onward flight.

If you have a long wait we can arrange a day room at the airport hotel or a transfer into Quito for a late lunch.


Below you can see some of the wonderful places we recommend you stay on your journey.

Patio Andaluz

Patio Andaluz

Patio Andaluz is a beautiful hotel, declared a Cultural Patrimony of Humanity by UNESCO in 1978....

View Accommodation



The Anakonda has been designed as a traditional Amazonian river boat but its atmosphere and décor are more reminiscent of a boutique hotel....

View Accommodation

For a detailed itinerary or to book your place on this tour, please contact us.

Destination Experts

Our experts have unrivalled firsthand knowledge of Amazon

James Armitage, Travel Expert

"The help and great knowledge James offered really made the holiday special"

"James listened and managed our expectations and therefore made sure we were prepared for all eventualities when going on our holiday to Brazil"

"James was brilliant and all the advice was spot on."

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John Faithfull, Travel Expert

"Personalised service. Seemed to really want to get it right for us. Very impressed when I first called and John spent 40 minutes finding out what we wanted to do and tailoring it for us."

"The expertise that John has really gave us faith in where we were going, the regions, the hotels, the trips. John knew about it all, he described them in detail, and when we asked for different regions he was straight in there with suggestions and ideas. The way the whole trip was planned and presented to us, never any pressure to book or any problem to change plans /ideas."

"John Faithful was wonderfully helpful and conscientious in arranging the itinerary and was always ready to suggest alternatives or rearrange matters without any hesitation; this and his detailed knowledge gave one great confidence."

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Paul Bird, Travel Expert

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Roxy Dukes, Travel Expert

"Roxy filled us with enthusiasm and came up with some great ideas for a trip. We liked the idea of a slightly 'off the beaten track experience' and some private bespoke activities and that's exactly what we've had. Thank you!"

"Roxy created a wonderfully interesting route which was the basis for a super trip. She also chose lovely places for us to stay and interesting activities for us to participate in, introducing us to the idea of private guided experiences which we thoroughly enjoyed."

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Sue Grimwood, Travel Expert

"It was tremendously helpful to be able to speak to someone who had been to Antarctica before - Sue had been on the ship we had booked, so was able to give us some very useful information. We felt that at every stage of the booking process that we were in safe hands. "

""I was uncharacteristically worried about this trip - neurotic some might say - and I was given 110% support and help with everything. I had been disappointed by not being able to get a space on the 2014 trip and so Sue was stuck with me for 2 years - a testament to her patience and professionalism. I was confident in Sue - she knows Antarctica and speaks from experience, that is worth a huge amount. Emails, which I would send were responded to almost immediately.""

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For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

Tour Expert

Benedict Allen

Benedict Allen
Benedict Allen is an explorer, author, film maker and motivational speaker. One of the world's leading adventurers, his expeditions have been famously achieved not with a phone, GPS or "backup", but by preparation alone with remote indigenous communities. He is the first person to have crossed the Amazon Basin at its widest, spending seven and a half months being immersed in the rainforest among the Amazon's indigenous people. Benedict will join the group on all excursions and will give three informal lectures on board about his experiences in the Amazon as well as his other adventures.
Enquire about this Wildlife tour:

Group Size:

Min 23 / Max 32

Tour Expert:

Benedict Allen

Departure Date (S):

  • 10th August 2018

  • Active -  The pace of this tour will involve a variety of activities throughout the duration of the itinerary, expect long days and very little time at leisure. The tour will involve short walks and kayaking, however, these activities are optional.  

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