Story and photos by Charyn Pfeuffer
Day Four (Yanayaquillo, Tahuayo, Charo Lake)
We had another early morning (on the river as the sun rose) aboard the skiffs as we explored Yanaquillo, searching for wildlife, including parrots, macaws, toucans, and many kinds of monkeys. We scarfed down a light breakfast against the backdrop of a popular dolphin feeding spot. Hello, morning entertainment! Coffee is always better when pink dolphins are in the mix.
As our journey neared its end (Kleenex, please), we started to sail back down the river toward Iquitos.
There was still time for a few adventures, so this afternoon we traveled to a splendid “hot spot” lake, where we fished for some of the more than 3,000 species of tropical fish that live in the Amazon basin. We were there with the intention of hooking some piranha, those small, sharp-teethed carnivorous fish with a big reputation for being scary. But mosquitos were the only thing biting, so we packed up our fishing poles and headed back to the boat, just in time for Pisco Sours and the sunset.
After we shared our final dinner together, we slumbered while the ship continued its journey downstream, sailing toward Iquitos through the night.
Day Five (Iquitos)
Upon our arrival back in Iquitos, we got back in the skiffs to see how people live along the Amazon—by floating in skiffs through the lively riverside community of Belen. Here, where the houses and shops actually float on the river during some months, we saw the bustling food market for the entire Peruvian Amazon. All local inhabitants throughout the region sell and purchase goods here.
We then took a tour of Iquitos, a bustling town, complete with a house built by Gustave Eiffel, which was once a rich center of the rubber industry. Before we headed for the airport, we made a quick stop at the Manatee Rescue Center, where biologists and volunteers care for endangered Amazon manatees that conservation authorities have seized from local people, including fishermen. Biologists gave a short presentation about the project and its efforts to help these helpless mammals. We also got to see how the manatees are cared for and are prepared for re-introduction into their natural habitat. I even got to bottle feed a baby manatee!
Lastly, we stopped at the San Juan Amazonian Indian Market to buy last minute souvenirs. I snagged a hand carved, balsa wood capybara for 25 cents that my boyfriend adores and displays proudly in our home.
If You Go
The Company: Expeditions are run by Aqua Expeditions. Prices for a three-night Amazon Discovery Cruise start at $2700 per person (based on double occupancy), not including air tickets to Iquitos and guide and crew gratuities.
What You’ll See: Expect to see more than 100 bird species, including parrots and macaws, as well as three-toed sloths, pink and gray river dolphins, squirrel monkeys, and a large variety of tree and plant species.
What You’ll Do: The trip balanced boat and land excursions. At least one or two big adventures were planned each day, including a local village visit; fishing for piranha; drinking Pisco Sours as the guides and crew played musical instruments; guided trips with naturalists, and educational talks on the Amazon and its history.
Disclaimer: As is common for many travel publications, the author was a hosted guest of Aqua Expeditions for this trip. Round-trip airfare from Los Angles to Iquitos was provided by LAN Peru.
Story and Photos by Charyn Pfeuffer