A company picnic to the Butterfly Farm, and the white sand beaches of the Nanay River
We invited everyone that is part of our crew at Dawn on the Amazon Tours and Cruises, The Dawn on the Amazon Explorers Club, The Dawn on the Amazon Cafe, and the Amazon Golf Course to join us on a day trip to the Butterfly Farm, a picnic lunch, and a boat ride to a deserted white sandy beach up the Nanay River for swimming, volleyball, lots of laughing and good conversation and drinking a few beers on our Sunday off. Call it a company picnic.
The day began with the sun shinning bright and just a few whispy clouds scattered on the horizon. The weather forecast called for 86 degrees for a high with a chance of thundershowers developing in the middle of the afternoon. Typical Iquitos weather, hot and humid.
We hiked from the river across country that used to be jungle just a couple of years ago, but the residents of the village of Padre Cocha apparently don’t like trees or even bushes, or even shrubs, because they have chopped down most of them. We used to hike in the shade, walking in the jungle, but now the villagers and the tourists walk in the sun. Whose ever idea that was should be sealed in a clay ceramic pottery piece and hardened the old fashioned way over a slow fire. The only trees left are protected at the Butterfly Farm.
The rest of that story is my old wound was hurting like hell, and I’m out of shape, and I had a hard time hobbling from the boat on the river to the Butterfly Farm. I was hot under the collar about being under the tropical sun instead of the shade of green trees. I made it by putting one foot in front of the other until the next thing I knew Marmelita was coming back to make sure I was alright, which I was, but just barely. I’ve known this for over a year now, but I am officially announcing here in this sentence of this article in the Captain’s Blog, that I am retiring as a jungle guide. I don’t walk good enough to be a jungle guide. From now on my job is to continue steering the ship. That’s a metaphor for being in charge. Most of my ship steering comes from behind the keyboard of this computer, but I do enjoy being behind the wheel also. Steering the ship is my favorite hobby.
Another goal for our day together was for our waiters and waitresses, cooks, and choppers, office personnel and the Amazon Golf Course caretaker and grounds crew, to have a better understanding of what Dawn on the Amazon does on our day trips and with our boats, so they can be more knowledgeable with first hand experience and a personal story to tell potential clients for our tours. Most of them had never been to the Butterfly Farm, some of them had never been on our boats. We coached them a little, but relied on having a fun day to be the main trigger for a good memory to share with people.
The Amazon Animal Orphanage and Pilpintuwasi Butterfly Farm is one of my favorite places to go near Iquitos Peru. I’ve visited there dozens of times and have never been disappointed. I see or learn something new every time, and I’m sure my crew did to.
The Rothschiladia moth in the photo below only live long enough to breed, two or three days maximum. They don’t have digestive systems. The female releases pheromones that can attract a male from up to 15 kilometers away.
Sometimes people tell me they don’t want to go to the Butterfly Farm because they think it is too touristy. I don’t know what to make of that. The reason a place attracts tourists is because there is something special about it. You might as well say Cusco is too touristy, or the Sequoia National Park is too touristy. I wish everyone that comes to Iquitos could visit the Butterfly Farm. I think they would have good memories and a better story to tell their families and friends. It’s not to touristy…
The jaguar and the ocelot were orphans that needed a home, and both have big cages, and are well taken care of. They can not be released into the wild because they have lost the fear of humans, and would either kill or be killed.
The Butterfly Farm sounds slow to some people. It’s way more exciting than a caterpillar eating a leaf. Monkeys come right down out of the trees to play and help entertain the guests. There are lots of orphaned animals around the place, and it’s a jungle garden full of orchids, heliconias, gingers, and lots of other beautiful plants.
Gudrun Sperrer is the founder of the Butterfly Farm. She is one of the most interesting characters in our Iquitos ex-pat community. Marmelita and I are proud to be her friend. She likes our crew, and our crew like her. She lives at the Butterfly Farm in the jungle just outside of Padre Cocha, in a nice typical thatch roof native style house, only nicer than most, overlooking a pond that is home to caiman and a manatee. There are macaws, and parrots, flocks of parakeets, and many other bird species for good birdwatching. She takes great care of her flocks and animals. Ohhh did I mention the beautiful butterflies? Lots of them.
I rode a motocarro from the Butterfly Farm back to the boat. I take back all those mean things I said about how the motocarros are ruining Padre Cocha. I was sure glad for that ride. I was relaxing on the boat when the rest of the crew came straggling in 30 minutes later, hot and tired. We loaded back up in the Dawn on the Amazon boat and motored upstream looking for a deserted white sand beach for swimming, volleyball, picnicking, drinking a few beers, and having fun.
We found our perfect deserted white sandy beach without having to go too far up the Nanay River. We beached the boat, put up the volleyball net, changed into swimming suits and let the fun continue. No one enjoys swimming, volleyball and playing on the beach more than Marmelita and her mom Filo. We all had a great day, from the tiniest child and up to me.
The big beach went from being deserted to having our 41 person group laughing and playing. It was perfect. The picnic lunch was delicious. There was plenty for everyone. We had a nice breeze blowing and some cloud cover, so it was not too hot. The losing volleyball team usually went for a dip in the river. I got a little sun-burned but not too bad.
I was honored that my crew wanted to be photographed with me. That was nice of them. There are too many photos to include here, but I hope the photos I have chosen tell part of the story. The photo above is mostly of our cooks, waitresses, cashiers, choppers, and cleaners from the Dawn on the Amazon Cafe. They are a hard working bunch, and this day they played hard.
Karla is one of our morning and early afternoon waitresses at the Dawn on the Amazon Cafe. Judging from this photo, she could be a model. “Ain’t she a beauty…”
I love my Dawn on the Amazon boat in the photo above. It’s my most versatile boat. We use it for day trips and multi-day/overnight Amazon adventure cruises. She is big enough for our 41 person group for a day trip, and small enough to limit the size of my overnight groups to 7 guests.
When we returned to Iquitos we witnessed this amazing mass of humanity out enjoying their Sunday. I wouldn’t have traded our deserted beach for everything on this packed public beach.
Everyone had such a good day we are already talking about when we can schedule something again. The goal was to foster team work, camaraderie and mutual respect, and for everyone to learn more about how our company works, and it was fun. Three of the crew that could have benefited the most, could not or did not go. I missed them, but was happy to have the other 41 guests enjoying the day with us.
To learn more about this story, and to see more photos of our day, please click these live links; The Amazon Golf Course Crew Visits The Butterfly Farm And A Picnic With Dawn on the Amazon; and A Fun Sunday On The River With Dawn on the Amazon.
A company picnic to the Butterfly Farm and the white sand beaches of the Nanay River
Bill Grimes has retired as a jungle guide, but he still steers the ships.