Rise and shine, everybody, for the first morning of our adventure on the Amazon.

This trip is not for sleepyheads, and we headed out in time to catch the birds and monkeys doing their morning stretches. Today was a day full of skiff rides, wildlife viewing, and hikes deep into the rainforest. We found ourselves on the Marañon River, one of the main tributaries of the Amazon.

In the morning, we took a skiff ride through one of the smaller branches of the Marañon, where we saw egrets galore, black-collared hawks, and even rare sightings of saddleback tamarins and a chestnut-capped puffbird. Ericson, one of our naturalists, was especially excited by that last one, as he doesn’t get to see that particular bird very often.

After our morning jaunt, we fueled up with a hearty breakfast for the excursion ahead, a 2.5-mile rainforest hike. That distance might not sound like very far if you think about walking at home, but 2.5 miles in the Amazon is a whole different story. With hot temperatures and high humidity, it is not for the faint of heart. The rewards make it worth it, though. We saw so many cool fungi, dared to pass by a nest of bullet ants (the most painful sting in the insect world), and got to walk amongst the treetops as we crossed a network of hanging bridges.

Come evening, it was all about relaxing. We enjoyed another river ride, this time on the Pucate River. The light was glorious. At sunset, we had what I think was many people’s favorite encounter of the day: a family of dusky-headed parakeets that had made a home in a dead tree. They were so curious, staring at us from their nesting cavity, until a third parakeet showed up and started giving them kisses.

As night fell and we returned for evening cocktails, we found that the Amazon had already wound her charm around our hearts.