Amazon Natural Park and Nauta Creek

Oct 31, 2017 - Delfin II


We started very early before the heat of the day had a chance to build and headed for a walk at the Amazon Natural Reserve, an area of Terra Ferme and primary forest where the forest that does not flood. Consequently the reserve has bigger trees and more biodiversity. In addition the reserve has a wonderful set of suspended bridges over some gorges.

Upon arrival we loaded into some makeshift catamarans (2 skiffs lashed together) and we paddled across a small lake. A small aquatic bird called a sun grebe scuttled across in front of us.  Other birds called from the surrounding forest. A Blue Morpho butterfly fluttered by. It was an incredibly peaceful.

Once at the shore we disembarked on our forest walk. Almost immediately we can upon a leaf cutter nest. Leaf cutters live in underground nests which looked like huge piles of sawdust covering vast areas at the surface. A queen ant and between 3-8 million of her sterile daughters live in these nests. They are farmers that grow a fungus underground to feed to the queen and their nest mates. They are an important ant in the rainforest.

After trekking through the forest, we finally reach the suspension bridges that cut across several ravines. We put on thick gloves because of all the painful ants that also use the bridges’ suspension wires for crossing. As we cross the bridges, we gaze around at the many amazing plants, bromeliads and hemi-epiphytes that we are now above or are at eye level. What a different perspective! The solitude and bird calls are magical and we slowly creep out way across the swinging bridges from platform to platform.

At lunch the ship is parked at the confluence of the large chocolate-colored Maranon River which drains the Andes, so its color reflects the fact it is full of sediments/nutrients. The Maranon merges here with the much smaller Nauta Canon River, a nutrient-poor river with the dark color of tea from all the tannins is the water. The merging of these 2 rivers stirs up nutrients and therefore as we eat lunch we get to enjoy a lot of fish, terns, and pink river dolphins fishing here.

Our late afternoon excursion was a skiff ride was up the Nauta Canyon black-water river. We headed up the Nauta Canyon and almost immediately we run into a large troop of Common Squirrel Monkeys moving through the forest checking the leaves for insect. A few black-fronted nunbirds follow behind catching insects trying to flee the monkeys. A cream-colored woodpecker was also there catching insects.

We had a beautiful skiff ride up this small black water river seeing a whole variety of birds including ringed and green kingfishers, parrots, and Muscovy ducks. As the sun started to set many hundreds of great egrets started flying in from all the little tributaries and surrounding areas were they had been fishing, to gather in large flocks to roost together for the night in a group of trees along the bank. This offers the protection from predators as they sleep. It was a truly incredible sight and a magnificent way to end our day exploring Nauta Caño! 

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About the Author

Katherine Coley

National Geographic Staff

Kitty Coley is a professional geologist who received her master's degree from the University of Texas in Austin. She is also a very knowledgeable naturalist, an avid birdwatcher, a butterfly enthusiast, and has a good familiarity with plants of both the rain forest and the desert. Additionally, Kitty is an experienced scuba diver and snorkeler and enjoys exploring the underwater world with expedition participants.

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