Iquitos, Nauta & the Maranon River

We have arrived! At last after so many years (the last trip of the Polaris up the Amazon River was back in 1996), Lindblad has returned with guests to the largest rainforest on earth.

On landing in Iquitos airport, we were met by the natural history staff of the Delfin II in the airport, and soon enough we were off to the village of Nauta on the banks of the Marañon River. By driving to Nauta from Iquitos we saved ourselves time and the ship a long sail. By the time we boarded the Delfin II, we were only a hop, skip and a jump from the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve. We were anxious to get started, so in the afternoon we put on our rubber boots and went for a walk in the Amazon.

The walk took place on “terra firme,” which refers to land that never gets flooded. The annual floods occur when the snow melts in the Andes and the water rushes down carrying silt and sedimentation which later covers the forest floor with new nutrients. This walk through a rainforest was a first for many, and the humidity, greenery and lushness of vegetation was an eye-opener. Liana vines hung down, eerie calls came through from above, squirrel monkeys moved branches in mysterious ways, and mosquitoes occasionally whined near our ears.

We came out near the community of San Fransisco after having seen the iodine tree useful for cleaning cuts, leaf-cutter ants carrying leaf pieces and crossing log bridges over muddy lowlands. Passing by the first raised hut, a woman was working hard on separating the fiber from the palm leaf, to be used later when dry as the tough material woven into bags and baskets.

This community was large enough to warrant a big water pump for a tall tower, a paved sidewalk through “main street,” matching blue out-houses and a town “mirador,” or “look out” on the high bank overlooking the river.

Those who didn't shop (or not for long) ended up playing with the town kids, who had a riotous game going of “chase the shotgun pellets” until we came along and captured their interest with our cameras and their instant-satisfaction ability to playback and see the resulting photos (see my photo below).

Back on board in time for sunset, we enjoyed our cocktails at the junction of the Marañon River with the Ucayali River and where the mighty Amazon River finally takes her official name.