As time inexorably continues its march, the last full day of our expedition in the Upper Amazon arrived, and we took full advantage of it. We went ashore shortly after breakfast at a beautiful place called Amazon Natural Park. This privately-owned property has been protected for a long time, and it is a wonderful place with a couple of lakes and a series of trails that crisscross the rainforest. In order to reach those trails, we needed to cross one of the lakes first. We did so by rowing on jungle catamarans, Amazonian style: a couple of wood-plank boats tied to each other. It was lots of fun! Once on the opposite shore, we went hiking and learned about the astonishing variety of plants and some of their uses by local people. To the untrained eye, the tropical rainforest may look like an endless green curtain of vegetation, but it harbors an amazingly high diversity of plants. There is a much larger number of tree species in a single acre of Amazonia than in all the lower 48 of the United States! We learned about some of the most significant historic and economic aspects of the plants, like the rubber boom of the late 1800s. A few people in the larger population centers in the Amazon, like Iquitos or Manaus, amassed huge fortunes by trading that product made by the dripping sap of the caucho tree. We had the chance to touch that sap and rub it between our fingers today. Our guides taught us about the various plants with medicinal uses that people still utilize today in their everyday lives. Occasionally, an incredibly iridescent blue Morpho butterfly flew by, or a long line of ants marched back to their burrow with a piece of leaf. There is always something fascinating going on in the jungle!
During lunch, Delfin II continued sailing downriver in the Marañón. We eventually arrived at the vicinity of Nauta Caño. Some of us went kayaking in the small tributary and had a blast there, while the rest of us opted to explore by skiff. Once more, we had the pleasure of observing the abundant birdlife, monkeys, and sloths that have become dear to us. Closer inspections of floating vegetation patches revealed a treasure trove of grasshoppers and other insects, plus a variety of colorful frogs. A bit later, a spectacular sunset framed our return to the ship, our beautiful home away from home. We enjoyed our farewell dinner to celebrate our last full day exploring, this time spent learning about and loving the Peruvian Amazon.