A guest post by Sharon and Bob Moos
The boat slowed. I knew our boatman, Edson had spotted something. Sure enough, we were right in the midst of several pink river dolphins. Edson cut the engine and we drifted in the direction of the dolphins. It was hard to know where they would surface. I grabbed my camera. With my finger on the shutter, I was ready to get that perfect shot. I saw a swirl in the water and snapped the picture. My wife, Sharon yelled, “Did you get a picture?” I yelled back, “ Yeh, yeh, I got it!” In the next ten minutes, I took several shots, but the best moment was seeing a baby dolphin swimming alongside its mother. Everyone onboard was excited. Memories of that beautiful morning on the Rio Nanny will be with me forever. To me, that’s what the Amazon is all about.
My childhood dream of going to the Amazon had come true. My wife and I, after doing a lot of research on boat trips into the jungle, finally decided on a company called Dawn of the Amazon in Iquitos. After many e-mail conversations with the owner and president Bill Grimes, we decided on a trip into the Pacaya Samiria Reserve. Last October, we arrived at the office and were met by our guide, Richard and introduced to Bill and his wife Marmelita and the staff. We knew we were in good hands.
Bill had some bad news for us. The area was drier than it had been in years. Water levels in the reserve were very low and boat travel would be difficult. Not to worry, Bill had arranged for us to go next morning up the Rio Nanay into the Allpahuayo-Mishana Reserve where the water levels would be higher.
We had a delicious lunch at the Dawn of the Amazon Café and headed to the Pilipintuwasi Butterfly Farm, a must-see according to the guide books. The farm has an orphanage for rescued animals and birds and a centre for raising butterflies. As soon as we entered, we encountered three monkeys hanging out in the rafters of a shelter. In a moment, a red-faced monkey called Chavo was grooming Richard’s hair while another capuchin monkey called Tony Piranha the Pickpocket was running off with Sharon’s journal and pen. Richard rescued the journal, but the little guy got away with the pen. Some animals have names like Pedro Bello, the jaguar, Angelica, the sloth, Lolita, the tapir, Rosa, the giant anteater and many others. There are lots of birds around and an enclosure where you walk amongst beautiful butterflies of all sizes and colours. One area is used to raise them. You can see all stages of a butterfly’s life here.
The next morning, we got on our boat, Dawn on the Amazon 1, and headed out to look for pink river dolphins. We met our cook, Philomena and our boat driver, Edson who has eyes like a hawk and is noted for being great at spotting wildlife on shore. During our six-day trip, many adventures awaited us.
Of course, the highlight of any jungle trip would be the wildlife and we would not be disappointed. We were always on the lookout, with binoculars in hand. We were fortunate to see many monkeys, river dolphins, snakes (ugh!) and a sloth. Early mornings were spent up on the bow with a coffee, watching for birds and animals. Once spotted, Richard was always there with bird and wildlife books to identify what we saw. We were always looking for a capybara, which luckily we saw before the end of our trip.
Most days, we had the opportunity to stop and visit a local village. At Mishana, we took a three-hour jungle hike with a local guide named Jairo. He pointed out many different types of trees and plants and explained their uses. We saw a variety of birds and insects and even had a chance to squeeze sugar cane with a press.
We stopped at the Rangers’ Station and were shocked to see that much of the interior lake was dried up. The next morning, Richard, Edson and Bob went by canoe to try their luck at fishing. They only caught a few small ones, but no peacock bass, so no fish for lunch!
At the village of Maravilla, we stopped at the home of one of the locals. The villagers gathered around and were so happy to receive the school supplies I had brought for them. Afterwards, Richard took us on a tour of the village. At another village, Santa Maria we were amazed to see an internet café. Imagine, in the middle of the jungle! We couldn’t resist e-mailing our daughter back home in Canada.
Once again, I delivered school supplies. This time, it was to the village of Anguilla. A number of very grateful adults and children gathered to receive them.
The last village we visited was Barrio Florido where we saw the gigantic lily pads, some alligators and where we tried feeding the gigantic arapaima fish, the largest freshwater fish in the world.
No matter what village that we stopped at, we were always so impressed with the friendliness of the people and the warm welcome that we always received. We will never forget the smiling faces of all the children.
We were very lucky to have good weather during our trip. Naturally, it was hot and very humid. The problem was solved by heading to shore whenever we wanted to and going for a swim. Every night, there was a storm with thunder, lightning and rain. That in itself was an amazing sight to see.
Of course, an important part of any trip is the food and the opportunity to sample the local cuisine. We were so fortunate to have Philomena as our cook. She was always whipping up some delicious Peruvian dish for us to try.
The days flew by and before we knew it, our trip was over. We were sad as we said good-bye to Philomena, Richard and Edson. They had become like family to us. But, as we left, we took with us unforgettable memories.
Dream Trip Comes True
A guest post by Sharon and Bob Moos