Allpahuayo Mishana: It Ain’t Disneyland!

by Captain Bill

Allpahuayo Mishana: It Ain’t Disneyland!

A guest post by Gart van Gennip

Dawn on the Amazon 1, under the rainbow, at San Antonio, up the Rio Pintu Yacu

Dawn on the Amazon 1, under the rainbow, at San Antonio, up the Rio Pintu Yacu

It has been four years since my first and last true jungle expedition, when I spent five days in the Pacaya Samiria reserve. So I jumped at the opportunity to travel to the Allpahuayo Mishana Reserve with some foreign visitors last week. Five days on a beautiful boat (The Dawn on the Amazon I) travelling up the river Nanay. Bill had recommended going there, as our visitors were keen on spotting monkeys, but not so keen on being punctured by legions of mosquitoes. “The water is too acidic!”, Bill assured us; “Mosquitoes prefer sweet water”.

I admit, I was skeptical. Mosquitoes have been around for about 200 million years longer than us humans and there is a reason for their survival; they’re tough! But Bill hit the nail on the head and there were surprisingly few mosquitoes!

Still, that doesn’t mean that the rainforest is a theme park. There are no guarantees that you will find what you’re looking for. And then there is a good chance you will come across a few things you weren’t looking for and hadn’t counted on. The encounters with a tarantula and a 5-inch flying cockroach come to mind, but also the rainy weather. It came down with buckets. Bathtubs. Olympic swimming pools!

Tarantula on a bromeliad

Tarantula on a bromeliad

As many of you probably know, this is the ‘wet’ season. That doesn’t refer to the amounts of rain we had, but to the high water level of the rivers. Both, however, were factors that influenced the animal and particularly monkey spotting business. The river has inundated vast parts of the forest. Approaching monkeys in the flooded jungle by canoe while navigating among the trees and bushes, is a tricky thing. You can hear the monkeys, but if they get as much as a whiff of you; they’re gone.

Nevertheless, being in the rainforest is an overwhelming experience. The vastness of the forest, the smells, the quality of the air, the continuous concert of sounds, the views of the rivers, cochas and creeks, and the absence of anything modern and civilized, apart from the boat we were on. There are plants growing on trees that grow on even larger trees with beautiful flowers and impressive root structures.

Cocha reflections, the mirror of the jungle

Cocha reflections, the mirror of the jungle

Despite the rain we were also treated to spectacular sunsets and sunrises, lakes so still they looked like giant mirrors and to hours of just taking in the sheer beauty of that ever flowing, mysteriously dark, yet peaceful river.

Sun set on the Pintu Yacu River near San Antonio

Sun set on the Pintu Yacu River near San Antonio

Harpy Eagles, monkeys, a sloth, and a capibara

We did see monkeys, as well as a sloth, a yellow-black ringed river snake, a capibara and countless lizards, butterflies, spiders, frogs, toads, and of course; birds! We saw Harpy Eagles, hawks, falcons, woodpeckers, kingfishers, anis great and small, toucans, and that peculiar yellow-rumped cacique, which lives in colonies and uses a surprisingly wide scale of sounds.

Blue Morpho butterfly camo

Blue Morpho butterfly camo

Pink Dolphins

We witnessed the pink dolphin chasing a fish across the river. The poor thing jumped out of the water time and again, with that pink snout snapping at its tail fins. I can’t say if it got caught, or managed to escape.

Night excursions in the canoe

At night we would take the canoe out on one of the cochas, following the sounds of frogs and toads, calling each other from miles away. We actually managed to locate one, sitting on a branch, hovering over the water. At night the sounds are even stronger and more mysterious than during the day. All of us heard sounds coming from the deep jungle that resembled human voices, laughter even. It is no wonder that anyone would become convinced that spirits live in these remote places.

Remote villages

We visited several communities, including Llanchama, Mishana and San Antonio. We met the locals, who gave us tours of their villages and the nearby jungle, and we learned a lot about medicinal plants, delicious fruits, unusual trees and local farming. We also learned that rubber boots would have been a useful thing to bring, and that ant bites can be a lot worse than mosquito bites.

San Antonio children with pet majas

San Antonio children with pet majas

San Antonio, Iquito indigenous, their language, and legends

In San Antonio we met an old lady, one of the few inhabitants who still speak Iquito, the language of the tribe that used to live in this area and from which Iquitos got its name.

One of the last 24 people on earth that speaks the Iquito language

One of the last 24 people on earth that speaks the Iquito language

The lady told us about the Legend of Iquitos. Her granddaughter translated her story into Spanish. In short, it is the ancient story about how the Iquito natives were chased from their land by a wizard and scattered across the Amazon jungles. The wizard, who took on the form of a tiger (jaguar), killed many of the Iquito, and many of them fled. The tiger chased them, trying to eat them.

One old lady tricked the tiger and blinded him. She was able to kill him. She cooked the claws of the tiger and used the nails to make a necklace. She put this necklace on a parrot, which then flew across the jungle, looking for smoke plumes of the various Iquito in hiding. They saw the necklace on the parrot and therefore knew that the tiger was dead. This is how the Iquito reunited and founded a new place to live in the jungle.

There are only a couple of dozen people who still speak Iquito. When the Iquito went to the big city, which was named after them, they felt intimidated and embarrassed. They wanted to forget their cultural heritage and integrate into this new society. Fortunately, there is an NGO working with the remaining Iquito, to record the language and teach it to the younger generations. We told our hosts never to be embarrassed, but to be proud of their culture and language. It was a moving experience.

Not a theme park

Nesting colony of Yellow-rumped casiques

Nesting colony of Yellow-rumped caciques

I was also greatly moved by the tiny, gnat-like sand fleas in San Antonio, which weren’t at all impressed with my repellent. They had me running back to the boat! Thank goodness for modern medicine in the form of a tube of cortisone.

Allpahuayo Mishana: It Ain’t Disneyland!

It ain't Disneyland, but the food sure is delicious on Dawn on the Amazon

It ain't Disneyland, but the food sure is delicious on Dawn on the Amazon

If you enjoyed reading this article by Gart van Gennip, you will want to read the story of his Trip into Pacaya Samiria Reserve. Gart is also the publisher of The Virtual Community of Check it out!

The same Blue Morpho butterfly as the one above with wings closed

The same Blue Morpho butterfly as the one above with wings closed

These links below are from Bill Grimes, to other articles and photos of similar subjects that you might be interested in. To learn more about Allpahuayo Mishana National Reserve and some of what we see and do with Dawn on the Amazon in the reserve, check out these articles;

The Real Live Dawn on the Amazon Cruises in Allpahuayo Mishana National Reserve

Why Does the Sloth Swim Across the River?

The Bats of Allpahayo Mishana National Reserve, and How They Could Benefit You

I have several great photos taken while Bird Watching Allpahuayo Mishana National Reserve and some of my best photos are on Expedition Through Allpahuayo Mishana National Reserve If you got this far, thanks, much appreciated.

Several other articles by Gart van Gennip you can enjoy on the Captain’s Blog by clicking the links below…

Allpahuayo Mishana National Reserve Revisited;

Save The Rainforest: The First Battery Recycling Program In Iquitos Peru;

Why I Stand Up For Animal Rights;

Otto And Kimba Need A New Home;

Proposal: An Ayahuasca Organization For Iquitos;

The Butterfly Farm Is A Must See When Visiting Iquitos Peru;

The San Pedro Lodge;

I wrote this review of Gart van Gennip’s unique web site back in December 2008. Since those times it has grown up into a force in our virtual Iquitos community. Tu Comunidad-Virtual!

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 stella cruz April 16, 2009 at 8:04 am

Dear Gart,

This was great. I really enjoyed reading about your expereince and seeing the pictures. When I first onpened up the site, at the very top right hand cornner, there is a picture of a small animal wrappted around a finger. WHAT IS THAT? It looks like a tiny monkey/tarantula/porkipine “thingie”.

2 Gart April 16, 2009 at 11:01 am

Hi Stella!

Thanks for your comments. I appreciate you taking the time to write. The picture you saw is probably one of the Pygmy Marmoset, the smallest monkey
on earth. It uses its teeth to make a gash in trees and licks the sap as it’s primary food source. Very cute little creatures. Don’t tell it it looks like a tarantula; it will be very upset :-))

As you can tell from my article, it was a very interesting trip. There are so many things I could have written about, but time and space are limited (not so, says Stephen Hawking!)

Best wishes from Iquitos!

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