Wildlife, stun­ning scenery and cul­ture – th­ese wa­ter­ways of­fer some of the best sight­see­ing in the world

Sunday Herald Sun - Escape - - WISHLIST WATERWAYS - PAUL EWART

THE AMA­ZON Wind­ing through the jun­gles of nine South Amer­i­can na­tions and the most ex­pan­sive rain­for­est in the world, the Ama­zon is the sec­ond long­est river on Earth.

A sanc­tu­ary for more than 400 indige­nous tribes, there’s also enough flora and fauna here to satisfy even the most cu­ri­ous of David At­ten­bor­ough-types – from pink and grey river dol­phins to jaguars, gi­ant ot­ters and pi­ra­nhas.

Lux­ury river­boat the Delfin II of­fers a five-day cruise through some of the most un­spoilt ar­eas of the jungle with ac­tiv­i­ties in­clud­ing swim­ming in pris­tine la­goons, meet­ing lo­cals and vis­it­ing wildlife res­cue cen­tres. DELFINAMAZONCRUISES.COM

THE SEINE Syn­ony­mous with the City of Light, at 777km long, the Seine is the most im­por­tant river in north­ern France and has been at the cen­tre of life in Paris since the Mid­dle Ages.

To­day, its UNESCO-listed river­banks are lined with some of the city’s top land­marks, in­clud­ing Notre-Dame, the Eif­fel Tower and the Lou­vre.

Emerg­ing in the Bur­gundy wine re­gion of north­east­ern France, the river flows north-west­erly through Paris be­fore veer­ing to the Nor­mandy coast into the English Chan­nel.

Scenic runs mul­ti­ple cruises that wind their way through the lauded wa­ter­way, in­clud­ing Nor­mandy & Gems of the Seine, and Gems of the Seine and Beau­ti­ful Bordeaux. Both itin­er­ar­ies take in his­toric sights, amaz­ing winer­ies and the nat­u­ral scenery. SCENIC.COM.AU

THE NILE An­cient pyra­mids and tem­ples, tomb-laden val­leys and bustling modern day ci­ties – a trip down the Nile is a jour­ney through 5000 years of his­tory.

Of­fi­cially the world’s long­est river (at 6650km), while the Nile flows through 11 coun­tries, it’s Egypt that of­fers the quin­tes­sen­tial ex­pe­ri­ence.

Ac­com­mo­dat­ing up to 64 pas­sen­gers, Sanc­tu­ary Nile Ad­ven­turer cruises be­tween Luxor and Aswan and of­fers itin­er­ar­ies led by some of the coun­try’s top Egyp­tol­o­gists. Think Agatha Christie’s book, Death on the Nile, and you’re half­way there. SANCTUARYRETREATS.COM

THE DANUBE The long­est river within to­day’s Euro­pean Union – and sec­ond long­est on the con­ti­nent – the Danube orig­i­nates in Ger­many’s Black For­est from where it flows south through cen­tral and eastern Europe to the Black Sea.

Long known as the “river of kings” it has been used for trad­ing for cen­turies, as far back as the An­cient Greeks and Ro­mans.

Th­ese days, its pretty banks are

THE GANGES Holy Mother River, Ma Ganga, Mother Ganges – the Ganges is known by many names and is eas­ily the most revered wa­ter­way on this list by an aquatic mile.

Wor­shipped as a god­dess by mil­lions of Hin­dus world­wide, the 2500km-plus river flows through the na­tions of In­dia and Bangladesh from its moun­tain­ous source in the Hi­malayas. And al­though it’s far from the clean­est wa­ter­way – in fact it’s pol­luted with ev­ery­thing from hu­man waste and par­tially cre­mated bod­ies, to chem­i­cals and rub­bish – be­ing the most pop­u­lated basin on Earth, it’s a feast for all the senses.

APT of­fer sev­eral lux­ury cruises on the Ganges tak­ing in high­lights such as Ben­gal’s ter­ra­cotta tem­ple, the bustling city of Kolkata and var­i­ous pretty vil­lages on the Lower Ganges. APTOURING.COM.AU

THE DOURO Cut­ting across north­ern Por­tu­gal, the Douro loosely trans­lates as “river of gold” thanks to the ef­fect the set­ting or ris­ing sun has on its waters mak­ing it ap­pear as liq­uid gold.

A more off-the-beaten-path op­tion than the pop­u­lar neigh­bour­ing Rhine, the pretty stretch of wa­ter snakes 917km to the At­lantic Ocean cov­er­ing rugged Span­ish wilder­ness and the pretty UNESCO-listed old town of Porto.

Uni­world’s Douro cruise routes fol­low the river through Por­tu­gal and into Spain, cruis­ing past olde-worlde vil­lages, quaint mar­ket towns and acres of vine­yards.

Wine hounds should take note – the grapes grown on the banks here have been har­vested to pro­duce a famed port wine for cen­turies. UNI­WORLD.COM

THE MUR­RAY We can’t put to­gether a list of the world’s great rivers and not in­clude a home­grown one.

At more than 2500km long, the Mur­ray is Aus­tralia’s long­est river – and one of the long­est nav­i­ga­ble wa­ter­ways in the world.

Flow­ing through three states (the river forms a nat­u­ral bor­der be­tween NSW and Vic­to­ria), the Mur­ray orig­i­nates in the Great Di­vid­ing Range and flows in a north­west di­rec­tion be­fore turn­ing south near Ade­laide then emp­ty­ing into the South­ern Ocean.

A home since time im­memo­rial for Abo­rig­i­nal tribes, its waters and banks are packed to the rafters with birds, mam­mals, fish and rep­tiles.

To­day you can ex­pe­ri­ence the river in many ways, from a slow pad­dle or a lazy fish­ing trip at­tempt­ing to net a prized Mur­ray cod, to cruis­ing on a his­toric pad­dle steamer, or even cap­tain­ing your very own lux­ury house­boat. HOLIDAYSOFAUSTRALIA.COM.AU

THE MEKONG Flow­ing through six coun­tries (China, Myan­mar, Thai­land, Laos, Cam­bo­dia and Viet­nam) the Mekong is the real lifeblood of South-East Asia.

Jour­ney­ing from its source on the Ti­betan bor­der south be­fore fi­nally flow­ing into the South China Sea, the Mekong buoys the lives of a ru­ral pop­u­la­tion of 60 mil­lion or so peo­ple liv­ing in its basin who de­pend on the 4350km wa­ter­way for food, wa­ter and trans­port.

Sec­ond only to the Ama­zon River in terms of bio­di­ver­sity, the Mekong is home to a ver­i­ta­ble A to Z of crit­ters, in­clud­ing more than 1000 species of fish and hun­dreds of rep­tiles and birds.

It also boasts un­ri­valled ar­chae­o­log­i­cal and cul­tural trea­sures, and ex­otic cui­sine.

Mekong Cruises of­fer multi-day trips in and out of Ph­nom Penh (Cam­bo­dia) and Saigon (Viet­nam) tak­ing pas­sen­gers through a river­side land­scape of tra­di­tional vil­lages, old tem­ples, lush paddy fields, float­ing mar­kets and bustling ci­ties. CFMEKONG.COM

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