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Cruising the Orinoco

While most people think of the Amazon when it comes to great South American cruises, the Orinoco is actually an equally bold experience in its scope, range and appeal. Boasting abundant wildlife, fascinating scenery and indigenous cultures dating back more than 1,000 years, this is truly a tropical adventure par excellence.

To start with, this vast river delta system in eastern Venezuela covers a staggering 40,000sq km and is home to one of the world's most amazing wetland ecosystems. It incorporates deep jungle, expansive lakes, meandering rivers and a superabundance of bird and other animal life.

This is also home to the Warao Indians, native fishermen and river-dwellers who build elaborate homes on stilts over the water and are a true delight to interact with. The town of Tucupita is another highlight, but most people come for the almost unbroken vista of the Orinoco's vast panorama.

Encompassing a glorious expanse of forest, water and sky, it offers wildlife-watching while on the river or land, with dolphins, crocodiles and manatees vying for attention with anacondas, monkeys and hundreds of species of birds, including pelicans, macaws, parrots and kingfishers. Be ready for it to be noisy – huge flocks of toucans, pelicans and parrots can be a rowdy bunch at times!

And, if you travel in the cosseted cosiness of the smart adventurer Le Levant of modish French line La Compagnie du Ponant , you can also be sure of the ideal view and the perfect travelling vehicle.

The sleek, yacht-like ship is an absolute gem, taking just 90 passengers in great comfort and with impeccable service and five-star cuisine. In addition, Le Levant provides a Zodiac inflatable for getting a proper close-up of the forest – by day and night – and guaranteed encounters with the local Warao people.

An optional flight-seeing excursion to the world's highest waterfall, the fabled Angel Falls, is another highlight, and it all comes wrapped in Ponant's ultra-chic style.

La Compagnie du Ponant Information

If you would like more information on Orinoco cruises or La Compagnie du Ponant cruises, please call one of our Cruise Experts on 0800 008 6677.