This morning, we had our first pre-breakfast outing of the week, following the Amazon’s natural rhythm to increase our chances of seeing wildlife when it is most active (and to avoid the heat ourselves!). We started our exploration along the banks of the Ucayali River and watched the sunrise over the water. The beautiful early morning light helped us find all kinds of creatures, including squirrel monkeys, black capuchin monkeys, and many species of birds. From the Ucayali, we took a turn down a small inlet called Yanallpa Caño, a place where the river has gotten so low that it was an adventure just to make our way upstream. In that narrow waterway, we saw more amazing wildlife, including toucans, macaws, and an adorable yellow-crowned tree rat sleeping in his burrow in a tree. Back at the ship, we had a talk on the monkeys of the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve, followed by a colorful and delicious fruit exhibition from naturalist Javier. It’s safe to say we all ate some fruits we’d never tried before today! After lunch, we enjoyed a photo presentation and then hit the water for kayaking and standup paddleboarding in the mouth of the El Dorado River. We left the ship on skiffs in the early evening to look for more wildlife, but instead of coming back at sunset, we stayed out to enjoy the jungle at night. With flashlights, our guides spotted white and black caimans throughout the river and its banks, and we were able to get up close for some photos. With no moon, the stars shone bright above us. We had absolutely incredible views of the Milky Way and the Southern Cross as we made our way along the river. It was an amazing day!
Today we explored Pahuachiro Creek before breakfast, looking for special sightings along the Maranon River. Pahuachiro Creek is a small body of water with beautiful forest on both sides. This area is home to creatures such as yellow-headed caracaras, black-collared hawks, large-billed terns, and some species of monkeys. In the morning after breakfast we explored Casual Rain Forest on the riverbank. As the name suggests, it is a rainforest! It is a vast green jungle with an interesting trail that leads through an amazing collection of giant trees and palms where many types of animals hang out. As we explored the forest, we had an encounter with the master of the jungle! We spotted a red-tailed boa slowly moving among the bushes. Its camouflage is impressive — without the expert eyes of the local guides we would have missed such an event. These forests are so full of life; besides the abundance of trees there are the many creatures here that we saw with our own eyes. On the ground there were snails and tarantulas, and the sounds of many insects that we cannot see due to their camouflage. The Upper Amazon is not only a vast green forest but also home to many human settlements divided into small communities close to the riverbanks. Today we visited Amazonas Community to learn about the local culture and way of life. It was very interesting and exciting to spend some time with the leaders of the community, hearing their stories about education, fishing, and agriculture. It was a very enriching experience for all the visitors. Over the years we have visited different settlements along the rivers of the Upper Amazon, and we have seen how their lives have improved in terms of education, empowerment, and production of fine handicrafts. Today we had an opportunity to buy some souvenirs produced by the women of the community. Their figures and weaving are amazing, very colorful and of good quality. All these items are made from natural palm fibers found in the surrounding forest. It was another amazing day in the heart of the rainforest!