Today was like three days in one between the skiff rides, rainforest hikes, and searching for caimans at night. We embarked bright and early for a skiff ride on the Yanuyakillo River, which means Little Yanuyaki River. This is a small creek along one of the main branches of the Upper Amazon called the Marañon River.

It was a tranquil morning. It seemed everyone was waking up slowly, including the birds. We still had wonderful viewings, though, especially with a particularly chatty blue-collared hawk that seemed happy to perch just above our heads as he searched the river for fish. Blue-collared hawks are the Amazon’s fish specialist of the hawk family.

Squirrel monkeys grabbed our attention from afar as they frolicked high among the branches of a timareo tree. The fruits are a delectable meal for the garrulous monkeys that travel in large troops throughout the forest, emitting high-pitched whistles and foraging for fruit.

Later in the morning, we headed to Amazonas Natural Park, a private reserve along the Marañon River. We enjoyed a 2.5-mile loop hike that included crossing a network of eight hanging bridges high in the forest canopy. During the wet season, the water rises, and these bridges are necessary to connect stretches of trail. Come May, we get to feel as though we are walking among the treetops. When we returned, local artisans had set up shop, and we had fun picking out gifts for loved ones in the form of colorful animal ornaments and wooden flutes before heading back to the ship.

In the afternoon, we enjoyed a siesta to prepare for an evening spent searching for caimans! We headed out along the Samiria River in the late afternoon light and enjoyed views of sunbathing sloths and moon-framed herons and falcons. As darkness fell, our guide swept the river with a bright torch to look for eyeshine from caimans hiding at the edge of the water. He spotted the glimmer of one before the caiman ducked out of sight. That is how exploration goes. It’s the adventure that counts.