An Amazon Cruise from Iquitos Peru to a Festival at the Frontier

by Captain Bill

Sunset on the Amazon RiverThis story is for anyone interested in learning more about an Amazon Cruise from Iquitos Peru to the Triple Frontier. There is no such thing as a typical Amazon Cruise with Dawn on the Amazon. This one certainly isn’t, but you might get an idea of what it could be like to join us on your own Amazon Cruise.

A family of eight Polish adventurers chartered Dawn on the Amazon III on a mission they called the Amazon Challenge. Their “challenge” was inspired by national pride and by thePolish adventurers persuing the Amazon Challenge Polish adventurer, explorer, and great self-promoter, Jacek Palkiewicz, who led an expedition to discover the source of the Amazon. In 1996 he followed that trickle of water high in the Andes to the Atlantic Ocean. Our Polish adventurers climbed to the barren, rocky, frozen, high glacial Andean region that Jacek claimed to be where the “mother of all rivers is born”.

They arrived in Iquitos Peru exhausted from their strenuous experience in the Andes and after descending into the high jungle. There was no rule that made being miserable mandatory on their self imposed Amazon Challenge. They wanted only to relax in comfort on an Amazon Cruise that followed Jacek’s route. They knew there were many bad boats on the upper Amazon. To complete one of the great river journeys, they were sure they would be better off in a safe, quite, comfortable boat.

Part of the Amazon Challenge was documenting their adventure with professional photography and semi professional video equipment. Dawn on the Amazon III is probably the most photogenic boat on the upper Amazon River. As soon as our adventurers saw Dawn on the Amazon III, with her beautiful tropical hardwoods polished and gleaming, they knew that was the Amazon River boat to carry them in comfort on an Amazon Cruise from Iquitos down the Amazon River to a party at the Triple Frontier.

Before we could start our Amazon cruise we had to take on supplies. Our guests had only one special request. Make sure there is one bottle of good whiskey on board…per day. For a seven day Amazon cruise, I bought a case of Jack Daniel’s Black Label. Cast off, Bon Voyage!

As we watched the ports and buildings of Iquitos recede, they showed me maps and a copy of Jacek’s book they were using as a reference. Although it was in Polish, there were many maps, illustrations, and photos. One of the photos was of Jacek and his crew holding a 30 foot anaconda. I asked if they would like a photo of that for their documentary of their journey? Of course! First stop Los Boas.

Part of the Amazon ChallengeLos Boas is a private serpentarium run by the Steve Irwin of the Amazon, a character named Mesia. It was a great place to take the adventurers to film and video them all struggling to hold a 20 foot anaconda, making faces with red tailed boas wrapped around their arms and macaws on their shoulders making them like pirates, or at least like the photos of Jacek. It was a great photo op and I am sure the Anaconda photo will be in their book, The Amazon Challenge.

The next stop was another hour and a half downstream, across the Amazon River from the village of Indiana. Monkey Island is what it says. Several individuals of eight species of monkeys live on the island. As the monkeys become used to the island and the people visiting them, and because they are fed at a central location, they become tame and come right up and sit on our shoulders, put their dirty fingerprints on the camera lenses, and are generally very cute and adorable. More good video and photo opportunities for the adventurers.

Across from the island, on the opposite side from the Amazon is a black water river called the Yana Yacu. It is a beautiful, small river with the bank close on both sides. Pink dolphins fed right beside our boat at the confluence. We cruised up the river enjoying close contact with the birds, wild life, and the rainforest, seeing the bromeliads and orchids up close. We saw an Iguana, a group of Pygmy Marmosets, smallest monkey in the world, and I would guess a hundred species of birds, and we had just left Iquitos that day. We tied up and spent the night lulled to sleep by the gentle rocking of the boat and a thousand frogs serenading us. Good start.One of the paintings purchased from Francisco Grippa

Early next morning we continued down the biggest river. The next stop is Pevas to visit our friend Francisco Grippa, the famous artist of the Amazon. We were in luck. Francisco was home and glad to see us and meet our Polish friends. Francisco is a charming host and great conversationalist. Our friends became most interested when they learned that one of Francisco’s parents was born in Poland. When our guests found out that connection they made a decision based on national pride, and admiration for Francisco Gippa’s paintings, that still surprises me. First they offered to buy every painting in his studio for half price. Francisco refused that offer, and several other offers, but after much negotiating, they bought 4 of his large paintings, including my favorite of an orchid blossom that Georgia O’Keeffe would have appreciated. That was a rare experience to sit in on. I am sure Francisco and I will never forget those intense hours of art speculation.

Indigenous near PevasAfter that we visited the Ocainas natives near Pevas. They performed their traditional dances in typical dress. We bought a lot of their crafted jewelry, all made from jungle seeds, large fish scales, and bones strung and tied with strips of Chambira Palm tree bark, just like 1,000 years ago.

Next stop, my favorite secret fishing hole. I would like to tell you the location but you know how it is with secret fishing holes. It is another small, black water stream with the jungle close on both sides and lots of birds and wildlife. I think it is one of the best places on earth. We swam and fished and visited a small, isolated, ribereño village. Fishing was slow. We only caught a few little ones, nothing to brag about. We boiled and cleaned the jaws of the piranhas and they made nice toothy souvenirs to go with the Ocaina jewelery.

We cook a lot of great local food on Dawn on the Amazon III. One of our dishes that got the best reception from our guests on this trip was escargot made from giant amazon snails. Their shell is larger than a baseball. The shells were added to the souvenirs, there were no leftovers.Yahooooo

On every Amazon Cruise we offer night excursions. Part of what we do is to use our super bright spot light to shine and get very close to caiman, colorful frogs, night hawks, and Potos. Most people are amazed to be that close to wildlife.

We could have made several more stops along the way, to tour a water buffalo farm and buy water buffalo cheese, to visit a leper colony, to explore another small stream that leads to an interesting native village, to boat around a large lake, to take our small excursion boat to a place where the Victoria Regia, a giant water lily, grows, a place where we know pink dolphin congregate to feed, and more, but our guests decided our best option would be to hurry on to the triple frontier to take part in the Fiesta de la Confraternidad. It is a large festival combining the best of the distinctive cultures of Peru, Columbia, and Brazil in an annual celebration of music, dancing, beauty pageant, athletics, parades, and fireworks. We were all happy with that choice.

We tied Dawn on the Amazon III up at Santa Rosa on the Peru side, took care of customs, and hired a river taxi to take us across the river. That was our first trip to the festival. One of our friends from Iquitos had entered the beauty pageant. Sybila finished second, but we all thought she should have won.

Another successful Amazon Cruise with Dawn on the Amazon, this time to the triple frontier.

Santa Rosa port at the Triple FrontierThe GPS showed we traveled 536.5 kilometers from Iquitos to Santa Rosa, Peru on this Amazon cruise. The time of travel was 31 hours. That does not include the time we tied up at night, or when we stopped to play. We arrived at Santa Rosa around 1:00 PM on the fourth day. We spent three days and two nights there living on the boat and enjoying the festivities. Then we saw our new friends happily off to the next leg of their Amazon Challenge down the largest river on earth to Manaus.

If you have taken an Amazon Cruise down the Amazon River to the triple frontier of Peru at Santa Rosa, Columbia at Leticia, or Brazil at Tabatinga, with some other company or if you are planning an Amazon cruise in the future please check the Dawn on the Amazon Tours and Cruises web site. If you like what you see there send me an email from the contact page and we will help you plan your own Amazon Challenge from Iquitos Peru.

An Amazon Cruise from Iquitos Peru

Bill Grimes, Welcome to Iquitos Peru

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