Thoughts on Iquitos Peru

by Captain Bill

Guest post by Denny Grimes Lay, March 2014

"Denny Lay Grimes, Selva Viva Amazon River cruise boat"

Denny Lay Grimes, writing in her journal on board the Selva Viva Amazon River cruise boat

It all started with a book-The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt’s Darkest Journey, by Candice Millard, about Teddy Roosevelt’s adventure in the Amazon.

This was chosen by my book discussion group for December.  The description of the trip down an unexplored river in the Amazon of Brazil was scary.  The challenges of the river rapids, portages and the jungle itself were many and varied.  Even though I knew Roosevelt survived, it was an intriguing question of whether they could finish the trip.  In addition to the trip, the descriptions of the rain forest was equally intriguing.  Such a variety of plants, trees and bugs which I never knew existed piqued my interest in the area.

Christmas approached. In getting out decorations I came across last years xmas letters.  You know the kind with lots of details of the years accomplishments.  So I stopped and read them again.  One was from my nephew, Jim, in Indiana.  In it he informed me that his brother Bill was living in Peru and running an Amazon cruise company, Dawn on the Amazon Tours and Cruises.  He had a web page-

So I went on the internet and looked it up.  Pictures of his boats, descriptions of the trips and lots of info about other things to see and do in Iquitos (Northeast Peru).  I emailed him telling him who I was and my memories of a Bill Grimes in Indiana and was this the “Bill” in the email address.  Several days later I received a reply-yes, he was the Bill I remembered.  After bringing me up to date on his family and wife, Marmalita and children, he described his Amazon tour company.  I answered and also forwarded his email to my children, his cousins, in Knoxville and Texas.

The holiday came and went and I had on my plate a trip to Plano Texas to see my son, wife and 16 year old twin girls.  The summer before I took them on an Alaska cruise and wanted to do another trip this summer.  Mom said they had already filled their calendar.  So we talked of other things including cousin Bill and the Amazon.  Monica remembered that the girls had spring break in March and we thought the Amazon would be a good choice for a trip.

Another thread- At woman’s club literary group one member shared a book by a relative-The Autumn Man by Albert Slugoski.  Part of the book described his experiences on the Amazon in Peru.  By this time the emails back and forth to Iquitos Peru were numerous-details about hotels, list of things to bring, possible day trips and general info about Iquitos.  I related to Bill about Albert and the book.  He did indeed know him but had not read the book.  He and Albert did talk before we got there.

Grimes family cruise on the Selva Viva Amazon River cruise boat

The Grimes family on board the Selva Viva riverboat at the confluence of the Ucayali and Marañon, the beginning of the Amazon River

The Trip

I flew to Dallas DFW/Plano Wednesday. Sunday we flew to Lima(7 hours) 5 hour layover in the Lima airport (12-5am) 2 hours to Iquitos.  There are no roads from Lima to Iquitos and the only way to get there is to fly or by boat up the Amazon.  Got off the old fashioned way by ladder, hotel picked us up and drove us to the Hotel.  Got breakfast and met Bill there.  We were then off to the Dawn on the Amazon offices.  There is a large waterfront plaza about 3 blocks long and the office and restaurant were along there, about 3 blocks from the hotel.  Picked up our guide and headed for the Belen Market.  Transportation in Iquitos is by motokar.  It is a motorcycle with a bench on the back and a place behind for parcels, luggage etc.  They are everywhere.  Lots of them, motorcycles, a few buses and very few cars.  Cars and large items have to be brought in by ship up the Amazon from the Atlantic.

Belen Market is awesome.  What a display of colors, smells and fruits and veggies I had never seen before.  Meats, turtles, fish, jungle meat, love potions, charcoal and large stalks of bananas carried by one man.  You could hardly see him for the load he was carrying.

After 12 hours without sleep, I was wiped out and went back to the hotel for a shower and nap.  Rest of the group had lunch and visited a herpetarium. In addition to the snakes it had sloths.

"Sloths Iquitos Peru"

Madison and Morgan Grimes happily holding sloths near Iquitos Peru

Rested I was ready for dinner at Dawn on the Amazon Cafe, Bill and Marmelita’s outdoor restaurant on the plaza with a view of the river.  The promenade was filled with people.  One girl demonstrating flags let me try.  It was harder that it looked.  People were friendly and lots of touristy craft shops.

Tuesday- Checked out to the El Dorado Plaza Hotel and picked up by the bus.  We were taken to the Selva Viva river boat for our 4 day cruise of the Amazon.  The boat consisted of cabins, bathrooms with showers, dining room and shaded upper observation deck for viewing.  The Amazon River was enormous.  First day was travel on the huge river.  Heat got to me so did not take the jungle hike.  Long pants, rubber boots (provided by the cruise ship) lots of deet and off they go.  Guide carries a machete for clearing the trail.  We are warned not to touch anything as some plants and leaves have thorns and could be poisonous.  Sunset, dinner, cards and bed.

"Dinning room, Selva Viva"

Grimes family and friends enjoying another delicious meal on board the Selva Viva riverboat

Wed- The crew tied the boat up near a small group of houses overnight.  Chickens are crowing, the fishermen are going out in their canoes.  We are having breakfast on the open air covered deck.  See birds-grayblue flycatcher with yellow breast, orange tanager, and lots of white winged parakeets, kingfishers and small white herons.  There were so many parakeets on one bush that I thought they were flowers.

"excursion boat from the Selva Viva"

Excursion boat from the Selva Viva up a small stream.

The hike- we traveled by small boat up a little creek about 15 minutes from the Selva Viva.  After a short walk we were in a little settlement area of small huts, chickens and a very friendly parrot.  He let us all hold him and he perched on my shoulder for a long time. This area is being reforested by the owners of the Selva Viva. There were also tomatoes plants.

“One does not mess with the sun along the equator: It beats down from straight overhead.  Instead of the more forgiving oblique angle in temperate zones.  Heat exhaustion comes quickly.”  Page 11 “The thief at the end of the world” by Joe Jackson.  I certainly experienced this.

Along the river there was a native market where a dozen river people had laid out crafts they had made and were selling.  Bought a fan, much needed, and a string bag made of strips of bark shredded and twisted into a twine.

Dusk on the river to see pink dolphins, birds and monkeys.  Lovely evening on the river.  I am again impressed by the immensity of the Amazon.

"Sunset Amazon River"

Sunset on the Amazon River

Day 3- Early breakfast then out on the river, again in the small boat.  Ponchos provided as it was raining and continued to rain the whole morning we were on the river.  Lots of birds and then we were fishing for piranas.  They were about 4 inches long with small sharp teeth.  Wet and cold, back to the boat for dry clothes and hot tea.

"support boat fishing for piranhas"

The Grimes family and friends fishing and catching piranhas in the rain.

Night hike- Morgan found over 30 walking stick bugs.  We had boots of course and flashlights as well as out trusty native guide.  The walking tree has roots above ground with many sharp points which can be used as a grater.  Saw lizards, centipedes, beetle like a ladybug but striped, and a large black fuzzy tarantula.

"Night hike tarantula"

Tarantula spotted on a night hike

Day 4- Finally saw monkeys.  On deck early in the morning and once I had 3 monkeys in the lens of the binoculars,  Black, all Brown and mixed brown.  Lots of birds and the sun was shining so we could see the colors.

"spider monkey"

Spider monkey photographed from the Selva Viva

Feeling sick so did not go explore the town.  A van picked us up and we rode back to Iquitos, about 2 hours.  Terrain was similar to East TN but of course the plants were different.  Poor country.  Dinner at Dawn on the Amazon Cafe.

"Dawn on the Amazon river boat day trip"

Dawn on the Amazon river boat on a day trip with family and friends.

Day 5 in Iquitos.  Rode on Bill’s boat, Dawn on the Amazon, to the butterfly farm.  In addition to butterflies, there were monkeys (loose), parrots, ocelot, sloth and other animals.  Interesting information re butterflies as well as lots of flowers.

"Butterfly Farm, Gudrun Sperrer, Owl Butterfly"

Gudrun Sperrer showing an owl butterfly at the Butterfly Farm

Back on boat, with lunch and idled in the river to see the dolphins.  I saw them, but could not say I really saw pink ones.  Afternoon at the manatee rescue farm.  They rescue the babies, take care of them and release them back into the wild when they are three years old.

"Manatee Rescue Center"

Madison and Morgan Grimes feeding the manatees at the rescue center.

Dinner at the Amazon Bistro,  then ride to the airport. Flight 1 hour late so we only had an hour to make our flight back to Dallas.  Had to check our luggage like a carry-on so they confiscated my large sun screen and bug spray.  Monica and I blew past the emigration so had to go back to have our passports stamped with an exit visa or we would have been there still.  Back in Plano it was 47 degrees so we were all cold.  But with lots of memories to keep us warm.

"Selva Viva Amazon River Boat"

The Grimes family and friends, ready to disembark the Selva Viva at the end of our cruise

Thoughts on Iquitos Peru

Guest post by Denny Grimes Lay


Miracle at Dawn

by Captain Bill

By Mike Collis

Well there I was having a quiet beer in my favourite bar in the back streets of Iquitos. It was 12.15 p.m. on Good Friday and there I was minding my own business taking in a Crystal, the way I like it, cold and on my own. My solitude was soon to be ended when 2 young Peruvian women approached me, one holding what appeared to be a small body completely covered with a sheet, and she was holding it at arms length. I thought, “Oh no!  She’s bringing me a dead baby!”. But no, the other young woman, who I knew as Liliana said “This little boy of 18 months has been seriously scalded by hot water and needs immediate hospital treatment”. I said  “Well, get him to the hospital now”. The young woman holding the child said “ But I have no insurance and no money to pay so they will not treat my little boy”. I knew that the burns would not kill the little boy but infection would soon set in if the burns were not treated quickly and the infection would for certain kill the child.

Grabbing the young mother by the hand, abandoning my beer and leaving the bar without paying I led the two women through the streets to the nearest point I could think of where help just might be available, The Dawn on the Amazon Restaurant.

When we got there, I left the two young women outside in the street and entered the restaurant. My friend, Bill Grimes the owner was not there. What can I do?  There was about 15 diners enjoying, probably what is considered to be the best food in Iquitos. I approached them, raised my arms and said “Sorry folks but this is an emergency, I have an 18 month old boy outside who has been scalded. I estimate 30% to 40% of his body is affected and he needs hospital treatment NOW and his Mother has no insurance and no money so the hospital will not even look at him” A diner got up and said “ I am a nurse let me see the boy”. She went over and gently lifted the sheet from the child and turned back to the other diners and said “ Yes, it’s serious”.

Within a minute, the 2 women and the child were in a motocarro and on their way to the Regional Hospital with enough money to cover the entire cost of any treatment, thanks to the generosity of those kind customers of the Dawn on the Amazon Restaurant. I think the total amount raised was about 200 peruvian soles ($60US). Enough to save this young life. Yes, it don’t cost much to save a life here in the Amazon.

I will keep you informed on the little boys progress.

By Mike Collis


Ayahuasca With Peter Gorman

by Captain Bill

Guest post by Dag Walker

Ayahuasca with Peter Gorman

Iquitos, ayahuasca, Peter Gorman: the three names almost synonymous among those who read deeply in the realm of the Vegetable Mystik. Over the course of nearly 60 years of intense and broad reading and travel, I had never heard of any of them till I stumbled upon all of them by chance roughly in a day. Now, all three are essential parts of my life experience. Recently in Iquitos I took ayahuasca with Peter Gorman. My life is fundamentally altered by my experiences of Iquitos; somewhat changed by ayahuasca; and changed in personal ways only I can see clearly by my encounters with Gorman. Different, yes, and much different. Such is the life of travel, that one is different because of the life itself. But how different life is due to such heavy pressures on the man in the wandering life!

I could have been an office manager in a small town back home, married forever to my childhood sweetheart, our children now grown, me a grandfather, member of the bowling team, neighbour, church-going good old boy. I would have killed for such a life, then and now. Instead, I sit in the Amazon jungle in a rotting old mansion on a side street with a notorious American drug figure and I swallow poison, ayahuasca, and I hallucinate, and I am so strange that my lifelong friends don’t begin to understand me at all.  No job, no wife, no kids, no home, not even a nation to call my own. I have ayahuasca experiences.

My experiences of Iquitos have been uniformly happy. My experiences of ayahuasca have been mostly bland. My experiences of Peter Gorman were mostly violently negative. Perhaps it’s the magic of this city, perhaps it’s just that two tired old men can’t find the energy to hold a grudge, but over time Gorman and I have become better acquainted and have developed some kind of man to man relationship that allows us to be friendly, if not close friends. It’s not ayahuasca that has allowed us to reach this state of mutual respect, but it is writing that draws two cranky old men to talk and listen. Ayahuasca is part of that dialogue. Writing about ayahuasca is significant to both of us.

For the purposes of this book, my ayahuasca session at Peter Gorman’s home in Iquitos is effectively my final installment of this long look at drinking jungle drugs in the Amazon. It’s fitting that such should centre on Gorman.

I can’t recall my first encounter with Gorman, though those who do tell me I blew up at the man and stormed off in a huff within minutes of our chance encounter. The second meeting I do recall, Gorman misremembering it as reacting to me slagging the president, in fact he being offended by some remarks he overheard me say regarding jihadis, people and a force I know only too well, one that those who do not know it see as a benevolent ideology and as a political manifestation of race. Gorman, being an uninformed liberal leftist, automatically sided with his fellow liberal leftists, and further, he bellowed that he wanted to shoot me. I live with threats of murder daily because of my involvement with jihadis and violent left fascism; and thus, because I am tense always, I challenged Gorman to shoot me indeed. Of course he wouldn’t shoot me. I was making a theatrical point as well. And so it was that we ignored each other for weeks, each waiting for the other to make a conciliatory move so we could talk and find out about each other. Then entered Elmore Leonard, novelist. Gorman had one of his books, and he offered it to me. Two writers, two thinkers, two stubborn old men, we had our break in tensions. Unfortunately, it was too late for us to undo my public writing about Gorman. When I looked at what I had written about him I saw that I had outdone myself in viciousness. I stared at my words describing the man and I saw the most vile and hateful writing I have ever done. I was delighted.

Over the course of Gorman’s visit to the city I watched his leg fester and whither from flesh-eating disease he got during his jungle adventure. It was a terrible thing to see, especially since I experienced something similar with my own leg years ago, and not so long ago I watched my friend Bar suffer something similar but worse. Gorman had my sympathy. When he left for hospital back home I kept in contact with him, hoping his leg could be saved. It was, and I was pleased for him. Meanwhile, I continued writing my books about the city, one book being about ayahuasca, this book. My ayahuasca experiences, as we know, were less than stellar, and thanks to the intervention of a mutual friend, Gorman wrote with his take on it. Due to that, I eventually got an invitation to drink ayahuasca with Gorman at his home upon his return to Iquitos.

Gorman and I have different friends in Iquitos, though the city is so small we all know each other well. My friends are beer-drinking red necks who would not drink ayahuasca under torture. My friends are working class men for whom drug-taking is as alien as homosexuality and women’s suffrage. To Gorman’s friends, mine are racist idiots living in an evil past. Between these two groups there is not a lot of liking, not a lot of understanding, not a lot of trust. I cross between because I am a traveller.

I am a long way from my home, and I will never return.

I do long for home, and I see it clearly in my mind’s eye when I look at Gorman. He looks very much like my father. Home comes to me in a rush when I look at Gorman, and this is a great unfairness to the man, especially so because it causes me to become violently angry at an innocent man. Not just looking like my father, though, Gorman looks like The Patriarch personified. When Gorman bellowed drunken threats at me I saw my home and my father and my life. I saw a sadistic, manipulative, violent thug threatening me, my father, and I know I am my father’s son because I am often just like him. I never did take an axe to my father, though I took a hatchet to Gorman in print. The man still hurts because of what I did to him. I didn’t kill my father; instead I took out my rage against that man on Gorman. My psychic fucking pains….

I am well-known in Iquitos as a writer on ayahuasca. Gorman is world-famous as a writer, particularly about ayahuasca. What I write about ayahuasca in Iquitos is not well-understood. I am a skeptic, a concept too many automatically conflate with debunker, cynic, hater. Gorman too made that mistake initially. However, to his credit, he wrote to me that if I were fair and honest in my presentation about ayahuasca, a subject he obviously holds close and dear, he would, he claimed, write the Forward to my book on the subject. Gorman had and has no reason to do me any favours, especially because of what I had done to him in print. Yet, he made his offer to help me. Further, he offered to take me to his home and give me ayahuasca to show me what he can of it in practice. My beer-drinking friends warmed me to a man that Gorman would do nothing good for me. He would not take me to his home, would not give me ayahuasca, would never write a single word in my favour.  To a man my friends said that Gorman hates me and was merely setting me up, and that I was a fool to be so gullible, that I should not believe a word he said about this. They meant it all, and my friends were deeply concerned that I was determined to believe Gorman would tend to me. They warned me. “You should hear him going on about you on the malecon when he’s drinking and talking to his group. He hates you!”

Gorman left town with his group of starry-eyed Romantic ayahuasca drinkers and went to the jungle. My hard-ass cowboy friends all said, “You see, he dumped you. He will not do you good.”

I didn’t see Gorman when he and his group returned from the jungle. He was around, but I didn’t meet him. My friends all shook their heads and said: “I told you so.”


I took ayahuasca  with the secret hope that I, like the hundred-plus others I had spoken to in-depth about their experiences, that ayahuasca would be for me some grand mystical and revelatory experience, changing me in a fundamental and fine fashion, giving me an experience I would treasure. I had grand hopes, indeed, though I said not a word of it to others. Not just hope: I expected. But time and again I drank ayahuasca and nothing happened. My friends said I was stupid to play with drugs that could seriously affect my mind and mental health; the hippies and ayahuasca hangers-on all said I was doing it wrong. There is no right or wrong: there is persistence. I kept drinking. Gorman disappeared. None of my friends ridiculed me, though they were disappointed in my persistence in what they saw as self-harm. What would “Mother Ayahuasca” do other than pour a can of black pepper in my eyes, slash my scalp with a pair of scissors, push me backward down a flight of stairs, burn my hand with a cigarette lighter? Mother? Surely I know better. There is no revelation and Gorman hates me.

I didn’t see Gorman for over a week, though I got reports from friends daily about him hating me in public, Gorman carrying on at cafés loudly denouncing me as a hack and a fool and a bigot. My friends actually like me, and they took some satisfaction that since Gorman hates me so deeply there is no chance of him poisoning me with his ayahuasca, that I could finally give up this quest and return to my real life. Then, by chance at a street corner I bumped into Tom, a quiet man with a large round face and long silvery wavy hair and blue eyes, a guy who looks like the Quaker Oats man, one of Gorman’s ayahuasca jungle guests. “Peter will take us to his house tomorrow evening at 7:30 for ayahuasca,” Tom said. I stared at Tom is disbelief, thinking this was some kind of joke. Then it came to me, that Gorman was luring me to his home in the night in the depths of the city where he would poison me with one of the most frightening drugs known to us in the Amazon jungle. “Those whom the Gods would destroy, they first make mad.”  Gorman was going to poison me with toé.

As I sat with my friends on the riverside boardwalk word came and spread that I was taking ayahuasca next day with Peter Gorman. My best friend in the city leaned across the table and whispered to me, “Dag, you don’t have to do this.” By which he meant that he would still respect me if for some reason unknowable to him and me and others I refused Gorman’s challenge. El duelo. It is the rules of the game, that I took the first shot at Gorman, unprovoked and savage and public; and it is Gorman’s turn now. Those are the rules men play life by. None of my friends said, “Gorman should not poison Dag.” They all said, “If Gorman can, he should. But Dag doesn’t have to do this.”


I arrived on time for my appointment with Gorman so we could proceed to this Iquitos home to take ayahuasca, but when I sat down at his table at the cafe on the waterfront he announced that he needed two hours of my time to talk about how the evening would proceed. There is more to this ceremony than simply sitting alone in the dark to drink ayahuasca. I said nothing to give away any hint of my disappointment. Gorman spent the next two hours talking about ayahuasca, what it can be, even for me.

Gorman told me what I assume he tells us all: that ayahuasca is a teacher; that ayahuasca is a spirit that shows people what they should know, whether about themselves or others; that one is not helpless in this learning process: one must at times ask about the lesson to be learned, confronting daemons and demanding passage beyond them to the secrets they might hide, assuming one dares. Gorman said that one is in control of the mind, and that the body is a rest, that if one is confronted by fears, ones mind is capable of overcoming such fears by allowing oneself to grow into insurmountable power and to reach beyond it, that if one is confronted by a vicious four-headed dog, one can become an armour-plated lion. If one will be strong, then secrets can come to the fore. Gorman talked about his children; and I thought about promises, that a promise is easier than a lie, that a promise is not a lie till one stops promising.

I left Gorman and walked down the malecon, seeing my buddies drinking beer and laughing among themselves as they leer at young women and tell tales of times long gone, tough old guys who carry guns and have dark histories. I sat myself in with them and they heard that I would return next evening to drink ayahuasca with Gorman, no reprieve, only short remission as next time looms like mother kicking till her shoe-heel breaks and she stumbles and you smash her on the forehead with a brass ashtray, smash her so fucking hard she can’t see, and when she speaks again she says she’ll always love you, and you know it is a promise.

I will see Gorman next night.

Ayahuasca With Peter Gorman

Guest post by Dag Walker

Dag’s latest book, Iquitos, Peru: Almost Close, is available at Dawn on the Amazon. Ask Bill Grimes for a copy. Or order your copy direct from at this link: Iquitos Peru: Almost Close;

Dag’s new book, Confessions of an Ayahuasca Skeptic, with Forward by Peter Gorman and Afterward by Alan Shoemaker, will be available soon through

To get a taste of what might happen, click this link; Ayahuasca With Javier de Silva;

Hi, Bill Grimes here. As always, the views expressed by guest authors are not necessarily the views of Bill Grimes, Dawn on the Amazon Tours and Cruises, or the Captain’s Blog.


"Rodrigo Rodrich for El Comercio, Iquitos Peru"

I discovered this “striking” photo taken from the Malecon in Iquitos, of a storm over the Amazon, by Rodrigo Rodrich for El Comercio, and picked up by Peru This Week, as part of this seven photo collection; See The Stranger Side Of Iquitos.

Mr. Rodrich is a fantastic photographer. We have other photos of Rodrigo’s on the Captain’s Blog, from when he photographed the Great River Amazon Raft Race. One of my all time favorites is Adventura en Balsas. Brilliant.

Click the links. Enjoy!

On The Streets Of Iquitos With Rodrigo Rodrich

Bill Grimes has been living in Iquitos for over a decade, is president of Dawn on the Amazon Tours and Cruises, and host of Dawn on the Amazon Cafe.

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Organized by Regional Government of Loreto Department of Tourism

President Ivan Vasquez Valaria

Headed by Señora Gina Guerra, Director of Tourism, Loreto, Peru

"Great River Amazon Raft Race Balsa Adventure

The River Amazon International Raft Race has been staged here in Iquitos Peru since 1999. At first it was just a one day affair attracting local people. In 2006 the race was extended to cover 180 kilometres,  or 118 miles of the mighty River Amazon over 3 days. The event has now been officially recognized as the World’s Longest Raft Race by Guinness World Records. Click the link to read more.

The rules state that each team of four must construct their own raft out of balsawood logs and other materials (which are provided) and then paddle the craft for three days through the magnificent Amazon rainforest to the finish line in Iquitos.

Happy Rafters Great River Amazon Raft Race

Happy rafters in the shade on a well constructed raft

Twelve different countries took part last year. Except for one year it seems the foreigners can never beat the local rafters who always take about four hours less over the three days to complete the course. The winners of the 2013 River Amazon International Raft Race were the “Los Invincibles” from the village of Padre Cocha. Their cousins “Los Increibles” came a very close second. The only River Amazon International Raft Race to be won by a foreign crew was in 2008 when the “Easy Living” team from the USA completed the course in a record time of 12 hours and 19 minutes. That record still stands to this day.

The next River Amazon International Raft Race will take place in September 2014. Seventeen international teams have already pledged to compete in this year’s race and now that we are in the Guinness Book of World Records we expect a record entry this year. Early enrollment is highly recommended. Join us for a great Amazon adventure.

"Sisterhood Great River Amazon Raft Race"

Sisterhood in the Great River Amazon Raft Race

The Program

Wednesday 17 September

7:00 p.m. Rafter’s Reception in the Plaza Ramon Castilla.

Thursday 18 September

8:00 a.m. All participants leave by bus from the Plaza Ramon Castlla for the 2 hour trip to the City of Nauta.

10:30 a.m. Civic Reception on the Plaza de Manuel Pacaya in Nauta.

12:00 noon Lunch

1:30 p.m. All competitors cross the river by boat to the beach on Fisherman’s Island.

2:00 p.m. Each team captain will receive their teams raft making materials.

2:45 p.m. Raft construction begins. Foreign teams are allowed local help if required.

6:00 p.m. Dinner followed by music and dancing on the beach.

All participants spend the night in tents, 1 for each team.

Friday 19 September

6:30 a.m. Breakfast.

7:30 a.m. Start of first leg of the race to Nuevo Esperanza, 36 miles.

Lunch as competitors arrive.

6:30 p.m. Dinner.

7:30 p. m. Welcome ceremony by the village.

All competitors sleep in tents on the football pitch.

Saturday 20 September

6:00 a.m Breakfast.

7.30 a.m. Start of second leg of the race to Tamshiyacu 44 miles.

Lunch as competitors arrive.

6:00 p.m. Dinner.

7:30 p.m. Welcome ceremony.

All participants sleep in the school hall.

Sunday 21 September

6:00 a.m Breakfast.

7:30 a.m Start the last leg of the race, 40 miles to the Fishing Club at Bella Vista Nanay.

Lunch as competitors arrive.

3:30 p.m. Awards ceremony and farewell speeches.

"Great River Amazon Raft Race, What It Takes To Win"

What It Takes To Win

The Rules

1. Teams will consist of 4 people.

2. Substitutes are allowed but with a time penalty of 2 hours per substitution.

3. Each team is allowed to have up to 3 substitutes.*

4. Rafts will be constructed of 8 balsawood logs (provided) with a minimum length of 5 metres.

5. Rafts must be constructed 8 logs across not 4 x 4

6. Only the lst and last metre of each log can be cut into points (bows).

7. Paddles and lifejackets will be provided but competitors can bring and use their own.

8. Foreign teams are allowed local people to help in construction.

9. Life jackets must be worn at all times during the race, failure to adhere to this rule could mean disqualification.

10. No team must interfere or impede the progress of other teams.

11. No alcohol or drugs are allowed onboard rafts.

12. Any team who has more than 5 klms to go to the Finish Line at 5.00 p.m. will be towed in with a time penalty of 2 hours. Any team refusing to be towed will be disqualified.

13. Any team deemed to be going deliberately slow will be disqualified.

14. Each raft will be given a number, this must be displayed at all times.

15. All competitors must sign a disclaimer before competing.

*Substitutes will travel in the Support Boat until needed.*


Other Notes

Suggested Items to Carry On board your Raft




First Aid Kit

Long pants

Foam to sit on

Insect Repellent

Long sleeved shirt

Gardening gloves or similar

Sun cream

Wide brimmed hat

Snacks like potato chips, fruit etc…

Entry Fee

$1,000 U.S. dollars per team of 4 + $250 per substitute.

What Is Included

Transport from Iquitos to Nauta, 18 September.

All meals are included, breakfast, lunch and dinner except Thursday the 18th when only lunch and dinner are provided and the last day, Sunday 20th when only breakfast and dinner well be provided.

Purified bottled water will be provided at all times.

All raft making materials will be provided.

Life jackets and paddles are provided.

Accommodation; The nights of 18th September and 19th September.

All competitors will sleep in tents on mattresses, 1 tent per team. The night of Saturday 20th competitors will sleep in the school hall in Tamshiyacu on mattresses.

For instructions how to join, please email;


For your security the Peruvian Coast Guard and the State Tourist Police will stay with the race for its entirety.

The Red Cross and the State of Loreto Health Department (SALUD) will have safety boats with doctors and nurses following the race in case of any emergency.

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If you have competed before tell us about your experience.

If you are a first timer please give us your thoughts.

Please direct any questions you might have to the blog so that others can see the answer.


More of what it takes to win

The 16th River Amazon International Raft Race