Our day started early, as it does with the denizens of the forest, so we could take advantage of the softer light, cooler temperature, and heightened activity of the native fauna. Our rewards were plentiful and colorful, from Isabel’s saki monkeys to a squadron-like flyover of scarlet macaws. We observed lesser appreciated but no less impressive birds, such as sunbitterns, capped herons, and umbrella birds. We sought the light, waited for the right moment, and were richly rewarded with diverse wildlife sightings and unique photographic opportunities.
Today we began our exploration in the Amazon, the biggest forest in the world. The Amazon covers a vast area — it is almost the size of the contiguous United States in North America — and includes the countries of Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, Venezuela, Colombia, and Brazil in South America. Our trip started in Clavero Lake, a big lagoon that is home to much wildlife on land and in the water. At this time of year the water levels are low; we saw the watermark on the bark of the trees. As soon as we entered, the river dolphins began swimming around our skiffs; we saw herons fishing, and other multicolored birds that were eating insects and seeds among the grassy riverbanks. We spotted vermillion flycatchers, tanagers, anteaters, sparrows, and some black orioles. On the way back to our ship we passed a few local fishermen; we spoke with them, learning about their everyday tasks and their techniques to catch different types of freshwater fish. In the afternoon we explored the Ucayali River. Along the coast we observed many types of wildlife, including hawks, kites, falcons, and egrets. Our expert guides can identify many types of birds and monkeys just by the sounds they make. We found a troop of squirrel monkeys that were jumping from tree to tree; a flock of black ani birds were chasing the monkeys to get some insects. Along the river we saw small communities of people and kids swimming, cooling off in the muddy waters. After an incredible journey of exploration, we returned to our ship. Our bartender Gaston had prepared a delicious Pisco sour, the national drink of Peru. It was a great finale for an astonishing day.