The World’s Greatest River Expeditions

Long before the invention of engines, people travelled by water, and whether trading or exploring, boats have enabled us to access the remotest corners of the earth.

Rivers are particularly intriguing as they are such powerful life sources with so many great civilizations built on their banks. Meandering and ever-changing, no two are the same and their expeditions offer some of the world’s greatest adventures.

Here are some of our favourites:

The Negro River is the Amazon’s largest tributary and offers some of the top boat expeditions for exploring the region. It’s also a predominantly mosquito-free part of the Amazon due to the river’s acidic PH which stops mosquito larvae from producing. Accessed from the city of Manaus, the Amazon remains one of the world’s great explorer destinations, thankfully with some large swathes still protected (though this can’t be taken for granted). It is utterly majestic in its beauty, with exquisite flora and fauna, floating forests, towering tree canopies, waterfalls, tiny villages and ancient jungles. Visit during the dry season between July/August and November/December when you’ll also see beautiful river beaches appear.

Widely considered to be the longest river in the world (though recent research suggests the Amazon might in fact be slightly longer), the Nile is a crowning jewel of ancient civilization, flowing some 6,600 kilometres from south to north until it empties into the Mediterranean. Here, ancient Egyptians not only traded, but also developed vital irrigation systems and grew papyrus plants for making paper. It evokes reveries of great adventure and romance, a movie star in its own right and the entry point to another world. There are certain parts of the Nile that feel less touristy and more aligned with how you’d imagine a journey through ancient Egypt. Talk to our team for planning advice as it’s easy to go wrong!

Cruising the Mekong River is one of the world’s epic explorations, a journey of discovery through 2,000 years of human history. This is also a region of immense natural beauty, with bright green rice fields, forested waterways, and floating villages, which you’ll see gliding down the lower basin. While there, visit UNESCO-listed Angkor Wat at Siem Reap in Cambodia and the stunningly-beautiful Cardamom National Park. November through January is the ideal time of year for this part of the world.

The Zambezi River, a natural border between Zambia and Zimbabwe, is a magnificent sight. Flowing through six countries – Zambia, Angola, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique – it’s positioned in one of Africa’s most exhilarating wildlife regions. Perhaps its most well-known feature is Victoria Falls, where the river descends dramatically into a basalt gorge, surrounded by riverine landscape and plains full of game for whom the river provides sustenance. Helicopter over Victoria Falls and across the border to Botswana for one of the ultimate Southern African safaris.

The sacred River Ganges, Hinduism’s holy river and the heartland of Hindustan, its origins in the Himalayan mountain range, emptying out into the Bay of Bengal. With an extraordinary network of tributaries, the river provides water to millions of people, as well as being worshipped and revered as the Goddess “Mother Ganga”. Varanasi’s evening Ganga Aarti ceremony must be one of the most evocative and memorable spiritual events on earth when thousands gather on the river banks at sunset for the ritual offerings made to Mother Ganga. We consider this an inspiring addition to a north India itinerary, particularly for the adventurous-at-heart and those interested to learn more about Hinduism.