Yanallpa and Dorado River

Nov 01, 2018 - Delfin II

Today we enjoyed our first full day in the Ucayali River, the one bordering the southern portion of the Pacaya-Samiria Natural Reserve. We woke up in an area known as Yanallpa and boarded our skiffs pretty early in the morning to explore it. It is a gorgeous region with an abundance of tall trees and, perhaps more importantly, dead aguaje palms still standing. Those old palm tree trunks are really good nesting places for a number of members of the parrot family, and soon we found the golden prize of them all: the blue-and-gold macaw! We had the opportunity to watch a good number of those gorgeous -- and noisy! -- birds as they socialized before flying away deep into the forest looking for breakfast. We also had the chance to see a second, smaller macaw species in the same area, the red-bellied macaw. Small groups of them perched on top of dead trees and offered a very nice show for us to admire and photograph. Many other bird species were present too, and some of the more notorious sightings this morning included a group of black vultures feeding on a floating carcass, possibly a manatee, and a peregrine falcon feeding on a recently-captured yellow-rumped cacique.

We entered a small black-water tributary known as Belluda Caño to continue our never-ending search for wildlife. Right at its entrance, we found several raptor species: a roadside hawk preening its feathers, a couple of great black hawks looking for fish or a frog to catch and a slate-colored hawk that looked down at us with curiosity. The ubiquitous black-collared hawks couldn't fail to be present and many of them watched us as we slowly passed in front of their perches. A black-tailed trogon too seemed oblivious to our cameras clicking, and a few monk saki monkeys looked at us with early morning, pre-coffee eyes.

We continued sailing upriver in the Ucayali and spent the afternoon exploring the Dorado River. Those that went kayaking had a very enjoyable time admiring nature at their own pace, listening to the many noises and calls of the rainforest. We also explored the area by skiff and decided to stay later than usual in order to spend some time in the river at night. That gave us the unique experience of searching for caiman and other nocturnal creatures using a spotlight; we found several spectacled and black caimans, plus boat billed-herons and great potoos, birds that aren't easy to find during the daytime and totally enjoyed the feeling of being in such a wild place in the dark, making for a great ending to a wonderful day.

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About the Author

Carlos Navarro

Undersea Specialist

Carlos J. Navarro is a biochemist specializing in marine biology, a M. Sc. in Environmental Management and a freelance wildlife photographer/author. Carlos has spent most of the last 30 years living along the shores of the Sea of Cortez and participating in numerous scientific, conservation and environmental education projects on the vaquita, marine invertebrates, sea birds, great white sharks, baleen whales, jaguars and crocodiles. Carlos’ six years of jaguar research provided the basis of ONCA MAYA, a non-profit organization dedicated to jaguar conservation based in Cancun, of which he is a founding member and still serves as a scientific advisor. He loves being underwater, either free-diving or using SCUBA gear and have had the chance to explore the underwater realms of Alaska, Mexico, Svalbard, the trans-Atlantic ridge islands, the Caribbean and both coasts of South America from Panama to Chile and Brazil to Argentina. 

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