Allpahuayo Mishana National Reserve
While most people in Iquitos are infatuated with Pacaya Samiria National Reserve, one of my favorite places on God’s green earth is up the Nanay River into Allpahuayo Mishana National Reserve. Some of the most precious outdoor memories of my life are from there, including one of the best days fishing I have ever had.
You can Google Allphauayo Mishana and learn about the rare geology of the white-sand forest, its amazing bio-diversity, and the many endemic species of birds. This story is about my friends’ and my personal experiences in this wonderland of nature.
Only once in my life have I seen as many as ten or 12 black-collared hawks repeatedly swooping down only a few meters in front of our boat catching bright silver-colored fish in their talons. We cut back our motor and our boat drifted downstream on the Nanay River, with the entire school of fish in front of us, as that bird watchers’ dream scene played out over and over.
A few nights in Allpahuayo Mishana have been memorable. Once after the boat was tied to shore, we enjoyed a wonderful dinner and as we were settling down for the night, a pod of pink dolphins chose to join us and enjoy their dinner of fish close by. The sound they make when they surface to breath, a forceful exhalation of air to clear their blow hole, kept me awake late in the night. Early in the morning a family of duski titi monkeys woke me. The concept of a “quiet jungle” is only in books and Disney movies.
In September and October when the water is low, most of our Dawn on the Amazon Tours and Cruises go to Allpahuayo Mishana National Reserve. The Nanay River always has a navigable channel that meanders through the rainforest, past dozens of ox-bow lakes full of fish. The tranquil black water reflects the clouds and trees; the lovely white sand beaches are just waiting to be waded.
One of the couples that was on our most recent cruise told me that it was the best experience of all their travels through South America. They loved our crew and the boat, the food was delicious and they got to see the amazing bio-diversity of Allpahuayo Mishana with their own eyes.
Our head guide Billy, boat pilot Edson, and cook Filo remarked on what they saw on this cruise which included a capybara swimming in the river, a group of four coatis, (in the raccoon family), foraging on the forest floor, saddle-backed tamarins, squirrel monkeys, duski titi monkeys, night monkeys, a two toed sloth, a three toed sloth, two kinkajous, many pink and gray dolphins, and two species of bats.
A fer de lance was sunning on the trail, (carefully moved off the path with a long forked stick), and two red backed poison dart frogs, an iguana, and a tree runner lizard were all observed.
Among the interesting birds they spotted were ospreys soaring, a blue coatinga, white-throated toucans, many-banded aracaris, wire-tailed manakins, screaming piha, (the signature sound of the Amazon), yellow-headed caracaras, black caracaras, and a couple of road-side hawks.
Among the more amazing insects were izula ants, (one of the most painful stings in the jungle), walking sticks, praying mantis, four tarantulas, tailless whip scorpions, and countless colorful butterflies. The fishermen caught two species of piranhas, (one weighed a kilo and a half), peacock bass and other ciclids and a couple of nice catfish, which were all released.
Strangler figs were strangling, bromeliads were blooming, vines were climbing, there were many medicinal plants, orchids, and giant trees.
Another advantage to cruising into Allpahuayo Mishana National Reserve, there are not as many mosquitoes as in the other nature reserve, or any other place I know in the upper Amazon.
Cruising downstream once in Allpahuayo Mishana National Reserve our riverboat was escorted by a migratory flock of hundreds of American swallow-tailed kites. Our passage was stirring up a large number of dragonflies that the gracefully soaring kites were feeding on in mid-air.
On another cruise I had one of my best fishing days. I only caught three Peacock Bass but fought several big toothy fasacos, or wolf fish. I caught five of the largest fasacos I ever caught on six casts. I was right in the middle of a feeding frenzy. At the end of the day I was completely exhausted and in love with the Allphauayo Mishana National Reserve.
The Other National Reserve, Allpahuayo Mishana
Bill Grimes is president of Dawn on the Amazon Tours and Cruises;
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