We are exploring the Ucayali River and this morning we ventured into the riverside and surrounding forest. This region is full of life — particularly with an abundance of birds — from the water level to the tops of the tallest trees. We landed at Dorado Beach before breakfast, as we planned a walk for birdwatching and exploration of the sand dunes. As soon as we landed at Dorado Beach we had the feeling of being transported to a desert, with dunes and white sand all around! However just 100 yards away the green grass from the river swamps leads to the endless green of the largest jungle on Earth! The Amazon Rainforest and its diversity of bird species became the highlight of our afternoon outing.

This beach is home to flocks of large-billed terns that nest on the sand. They make small pits where they lay their eggs and raise their babies. As we walked, we found eggs and nests with babies on the sand — while above the flock of terns were keeping an eye on us and making sounds all around.  This beach visit was also great for a leisurely walk, to get a bit of exercise and fresh air before breakfast.

As we were having a well-earned breakfast we started navigation to the next visitor site, which is another exciting region of the Upper Amazon that is full of life. Here we disembarked in the late afternoon, as we wanted to stay until nighttime and explore the forest in search of different life forms. This outing was a memorable one in which we spotted the largest of the storks, the jabiru; these giants hang out along the beach looking for fish, baby caimans, or small turtles. In the forest we spotted squirrel monkeys, howler monkeys, and enormous flocks of cormorants roosting on giant trees.

The night exploration was quite a highlight as it allowed us to see different types of bats, herons, nighthawks, and monkeys going to their roosting. The most interesting of all were the caiman sightings! We were equipped with spotlights to search for them in the vegetation along the riverbank. As it got dark we soon spotted their shining eyes among the grasses.

All I can say is “I want to do it again!” – what an amazing day.