The Yangtze, the Amazon, the Ganges, the Mekong ... the world’s great rivers have promised adventure to travellers for centuries, and the vessels that ply these fabled waters today are a vision of luxury that yet hark back to a bygone era. Their names alone – the Zambezi Queen, the MV Anakonda, La Marguerite – are enticing enough.
So if you have already had the pleasure of exploring Europe’s extraordinary waterways, think outside the box to Africa, India, South-East Asia and South America for an adventure you’ll never forget. Here is but a sample of journeys offered by river cruising specialists APT and Travelmarvel.
Chobe River, Botswana
Sail past hippos, elephants, buffalos, lions and leopards aboard the Zambezi Queen for an African safari like no other. This two or three-night sojourn with APT down Botswana’s Chobe River offers front-row seats to the amazing wildlife of Chobe National Park. Board smaller vessels to get even closer to these amazing creatures. The Zambezi Queen has balcony suites with king beds, floor-to-ceiling windows and ensuite bathrooms.
Visit rural towns and villages on a 14-night journey from Yangon to Mandalay along the Irrawaddy. You’ll see the amazing 99-metre Shwedagon Pagoda, bustling markets, the monastery of Maha Bandula, and try your hand at a cheroot-making workshop. You can even take a balloon ride over Bagan’s pagodas. All of this from the comfort of Travelmarvel’s brand-new RV Princess Pahnwar, which has 36 staterooms and suites with balconies, an airconditioned lounge, sun deck and onboard entertainment, including a traditional puppet show.
Yangtze River, China
China’s Three Gorges Region is an awe-inspiring landscape of sheer mountain walls adorned with jungle greenery. Glide between Yichang and Chongqing on a 660-kilometre cruise along the emerald Yangtze River with APT. Your vessel is the Sanctuary Yangzi Explorer, one of the most luxurious river ships in China. Onboard, you can relax on deck or take part in Tai Chi, calligraphy or silk embroidery classes. On shore, take a tour of the Three Gorges Dam, the largest engineering project in the world, or board a traditional sampan for a cruise with a local Tujia boatman.
The mighty Mekong connects two countries – Vietnam and Cambodia. With Travelmarvel you can explore them both on a cruise along the Lower Mekong River and its tributaries, to visit villages of stilt-houses, inaccessible by most other means of transport. The 5-star RV La Marguerite (named after French writer Marguerite Duras) has airconditioned lounges, a sun deck, spa and fitness centre, and you can learn to make Vietnamese spring rolls or carve intricate fruit creations.
Take a journey along the Lower Ganges River, the sacred waterway revered in India. With this APT cruise, you can visit Mother Teresa’s house, the terracotta temples of Bengal, the Hazaduari palace, and the city of Kolkata, as well as gliding past rural scenes and former colonial outposts. Your vessel, the RV Ganges Voyager, accommodates 56 guests, has a spa and fitness centre, observation deck, sun deck, and all suites have a private balcony.
It’s the largest river system in the world, cloaked by fabled jungle. Step aboard Travelmarvel’s MV Anakonda to explore the Amazon River system, via Ecuador’s Napo River through Yasuni National Park. Visit remote communities, ogle at birds too colourful to believe, listen to the monkeys hooting in the trees, spot caimans popping up to take a look or hike through the rainforest. The Anakonda has spacious suites with private balconies, panoramic windows and fresh, contemporary cuisine.