Discovering the joys of river voyages

From stargazing on the Amazon to sailing on the Nile, these leisurely trips leave the frenzy of modern life behind

Published July 17, 2011 7:01PM (EDT)

A wise Winnie the Pooh reflected: "If you stand on the bottom rail of a bridge and lean over to watch the river slipping slowly away beneath you, you will suddenly know everything there is to be known." Is there any better natural metaphor for life and the flux of time than these moving collections of water droplets inexorably drawn by gravity to join the immensity of the sea? Doing our best to make sense of the world, we give waterways names and treat them as if they are permanent, but traveling on a river breaks this spell.

Rivers are the original highways that beckoned the first ambitious travelers to float downstream or battle their way to higher ground; they tell stories of conquests, empire building, environmental meddling, invasions and migrations. Certain rivers are so deeply embedded in our cultural consciousness that we feel that we know them intimately, like protagonists in a novel: Conrad's Congo, Twain's Mississippi, Lope de Aguirre's Amazon, Cleopatra's Nile, the Ganges, Mekong, Río de la Plata, Yangtze ... A long, slow river voyage is an exercise in patience and existential meditation that feels so radically out of step with the frenzy of our time that it is certain to be a life-changing experience. Find more river adventures (both fast and slow) on Trazzler

By Megan Cytron

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