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Set Sail on the High…Rivers? Three Surprisingly Adventurous River Cruises

River cruising is no longer just for aging retirees and well-heeled octogenarians. Legit adventure and expedition tour providers are now offering a new crop of adventurous cruises in some of the world’s wildest, most rugged destinations. Here are three adventurous river cruises and itineraries that should be on your bucket list.

Amazon River (G Adventures)

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For decades, G Adventures’ cruises have focused more on what’s off the ship than what’s onboard. Their aptly named Explore Machu Picchu & Amazon Riverboat tour says it all. On the 11-day land and sea expedition, travelers experience some of Peru’s most iconic highlights including hiking Machu Picchu, exploring historic Cusco, catching a train to ancient ruins, and cruising down the Amazon River in search of macaws, sloths, and monkeys. The mix of land and river touring is ideal for travelers who aren’t keen to spend their entire trip on the water. Back aboard the Amatista riverboat, the vibe is comfortable, but not stuffy. Rooms are well-appointed but not luxurious; a small lounge provides a bit of indoor space to relax with a book and a drink; and the open-air observation deck atop the ship is the perfect vantage point for nature watching.

Pricing: $3,499 USD per person

Vietnam (Austin Adventures)

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On this 14 day/13 night river cruise, Austin Adventures promises travelers the best of Vietnam. The tour is a deep-dive into the culture, the natural beauty, and some of the best adventure opportunities the country is famous for. Travelers cover a wide breadth of the country from Ho Chi Minh to Hanoi. Daily excursions include biking and hiking vast rice fields, dining with local families in the remote countryside, kayaking the iconic waters of beautiful Ha Long Bay, and exploring the Forbidden Purple City.

Pricing: $4,898 USD per person

Chobe River, Africa (AmaWaterways)


AmaWaterways’ 28-passenger Zambezi Queen was purpose-built to cruise the rugged waters of Africa’s Chobe River. It’s a beautiful, modern ship that features some of the most luxurious creature comforts of any river-going vessel on the water today. The air-conditioned observation deck, 300-square-foot staterooms with balconies, gourmet restaurant, and open-air library and game room are among the most notable. But, it’s what’s available to travelers off the ship that caught our eye. The itinerary includes daily wildlife safaris, river exploration by Zodiac in search of Africa’s most dangerous game (including lions, hippos, and crocodiles), and hikes in Chobe National Park (home to the largest elephant population on the continent).

Pricing: starting at $8,899 USD per person

Mike Richard
Mike Richard has traveled the world since 2008. He's kayaked in Antarctica, tracked endangered African wild dogs in South…
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