Baby, it’s cold outside, but on the other side of the world, glorious sunny days are to be enjoyed.

We uncover the top 5 best river cruises to chase the winter sun from Brahmaputra to Zambezi.

1. Zambezi

shutterstock 511851760

Tick off the “Big Five” from your bucket list and enjoy some sun while you’re at it on AmaWaterways’ Wildlife and the Falls 12-day cruise and tour covering Zambezi, Botswana, Namibia, and South Africa.

Embark an adventure of a lifetime on board the Zambezi Queen, a fully immersive five-star luxury river cruise through Botswana. Here you’ll get up close to the animals in their natural habitat by water and land in Chobe National Park. You’ll then travel to the incomparable Victoria Falls, before returning to Johannesburg and an unforgettable stay in Greater Kruger National Park.

2. Brahmaputra

The rise of India’s river cruise revolution

India’s Brahmaputra River is the 29th longest river in the world and is said to be the only river on earth visible from the moon. It has, however, been hardly explored making it a fascinating journey for any seasoned traveller keen to experience life on the riverbanks of Tibet through to Bangladesh, before merging with India’s spiritual Ganges River.

While there are a few operators in these parts, Pandaw’s ultra-low draft vessels make for a more adventurous experience as they can sail further into the Assam valley getting visitors some 450km up the mighty Brahmaputra.

Highlights of the various Pandaw trips include a visit to UNESCO-protected national parks and remote rural communities, safaris in search of the Greater One-Horned Indian Rhinoceros and Indian tiger, and a chance to visit tea plantations, artisan villages, and temples. 

3. Mekong

Three monks in front of Angkor Wat in Cambodia on an Avalon Waterways itinerary
Three monks in front of Angkor Wat in Cambodia

The sun is guaranteed to come out during this fabulous 15-day Timeless Wonders of Vietnam, Cambodia & The Mekong Uniworld river cruise. There’s something about this part of the world that’s both hectic and heartwarming, and this cruise combines both as you go from bustling Ho Chi Minh City to the slow-paced Mekong River. 

The trip combines Vietnam and Cambodia and guests will be surrounded by the sights and sounds of Siem Reap, to the quiet beauty of the UNESCO-designated jungle temple complex of Angkor Wat.

4. Nile

Riding a camel to view the pyramids in Egypt
Riding camels to view the pyramids in Egypt

Once reserved for Kings and Queens, The Nile is a destination in its own right. Explore the Great Pyramids and ancient lands on Uniworld’s 12-day Splendors of Egypt and the Nile river cruise. 

Follow in the footsteps of past explorers as you experience your adventure discovering Egypt’s ancient mysteries such as the Valley of the Kings and the Great Sphinx.

Highlights of the trip include a visit to the Pyramids of Giza and the impressive Philae Temple. Should you opt for the Masterpiece Collection pre-itinerary excursion to Alexandria, it will take you on a sightseeing expedition to the Catacombs of Kom El Shoqafa, the largest and most important royal cemetery in Egypt.

5. Douro

UNESCO World Heritage, the Douro Valley beautiful endless lines of Vineyards, in Peso da Regua, Vila Real, Portugal.
UNESCO World Heritage, the Douro Valley has beautiful endless lines of Vineyards, in Peso da Regua, Vila Real, Portugal.

As we’re experiencing the depths of winter, anywhere in Europe is steaming up right now. You could explore the Danube, Rhine, or Seine, but we’re spotlighting the Douro as the river has exploded in popularity recently.

And cruise lines have taken notice, expanding or creating new Portugal programs into their itineraries. The food, culture, and beauty of the Douro River are hard to beat. 

Tauck has even christened cruising the Douro River Valley as one of their best products for first-timers. The “river of gold” as it’s fondly called, is one of the oldest wine regions in the world, a perfect backdrop to fill your social media with. Guests onboard Tauck’s brand new ms Andorinha will explore Porto, the city where port wine was born, take in the sights of Pinhão, and enjoy a leisurely bike ride through the picturesque Tâmega River and into exquisite Amarante. 

6. Irrawaddy 

Burma Mandalay
An amazing temple on the hilltops of Mandalay

Unfortunately, due to the ongoing unrest in Myanmar, Pandaw has paused operations on the Irrawaddy. However, we felt it would be remiss of us not to include it in our top 10, as it is indeed, a beautiful corner of the world.

Hopefully, it won’t be too long before they recommence, and you can book this exotic cruise.

This Irrawaddy river cruise is unlike others, as it takes you into the heart of the Myanmar culture. The river flows from north to south of the country, formally known as Burma. The Irrawaddy River is 2,210km long making it the 55th longest river in the world, and discharges a whopping 13,000 litres of water per second into the Andaman Sea.

On board this Pandaw cruise you’ll visit lush teak plantations around Prome, small villages and towns, monasteries, and temples. Get off the beaten track and see a side of the historic country unseen by many tourists who visit by land.