Marañon River, San Francisco community and the Amazon River
Today is packed with excitement. We have our early morning birdwatching skiff run and, after breakfast, a rain forest walk. We also have plans to visit one of the local communities (named San Francisco) of people who live along the banks of the Amazon River. How exciting!
The early morning birdwatching ride on the skiff was amazing – which is to be expected when birdwatching in an area with one of the largest varieties of animal species on Earth. We barely got on the skiffs and went more than a few feet when we saw ten or twelve different kinds of birds. We saw an Amazon kingfisher having a breakfast of fish, and we saw orioles and parrots trying to raid villagers' rice fields. A solitary sandpiper was scrounging for food on the riverbank while parakeets flew in paired flight formations overhead. This is a birdwatchers dream come true. I don't think a person's morning could start any better!
After breakfast, all of us donned our boots for our first jungle walk. Rennie, one of three Naturalists with us on board the Delfin II, asked a local gentleman to help us with the landing for the walk. Being the dry season for the Amazon with low water levels, the river had tall muddy slopes on either side, which we would need help climbing. To our amazement, in a mere half-hour, the man transformed the muddy river bank into reinforced steps, complete with handrail! One of many instances which showed the resourcefulness of the Amazon's river-people.
On the walk, I was in awe. The Amazon rain forest is full of life, both plant and animal! Some of the plant life we saw were bromeliads, giant mimosa trees with their beautiful bark, rubber trees with their stretchy sap seeping from the trunk, and various fruit trees, which sustain the birds, animals and people who live along the river. Butterflies were bold and danced around us tempting me to try and get closer and closer pictures! Amid the constant (and mesmerizing) bird chatter, I noticed a blue morpho butterfly which simply took my breath away.
The visit to the San Francisco village gave us an opportunity to get a taste of the Amazonian way of life. The school children were darling and so happy to see and welcome us. Tourists are a chance for the communities to make some much needed money and this was no exception. The women exhibited their handicrafts and many of us bought a memento or two to take home. One should always carry a few soles, just in case.
The afternoon brought us more of the same amazing animals contained within the great and vast Amazon. After having traveled on the Marañon River all day yesterday and this morning, the afternoon was spent sailing on the most famous of all, the “real” Amazon River, formed by the joining of the Marañon and Ucayali Rivers. In celebration of our presence at the junction for sunset, someone arranged a spectacular sky with colors as we raised a toast to the mighty Amazon itself.
At dinner, we were surprised to learn we were going to partake in a night walk into the jungle! Keely, another guest, had suggested the night walk earlier during our previous day’s walk, so an impromptu hike was organized. I was excited since I had done one elsewhere and seen so many animals from a totally different perspective.
The walk started with the sight of a pinktoe tarantula, followed by frogs, bats, and katydids. Suddenly, Adonai, one of our natualists, said “Oh my god! It’s a boa!” We looked at the marvelous creature, beautiful with a bright red tail. The snake was big, approximately 8.5ft long. She slowly slithered into the jungle, our signal to make our way back to the skiffs by way of a pond which had Giant Amazon lilies. These are the largest lilies in the world, Victoria regia, and can grow to 6ft in diameter. Also, the lily flower only blooms at night and lasts for only 48 hours. Thankfully, the lilies were in bloom during our nightwalk and we were lucky to snap a few photos. Before it was time to go back, we stood in total silence for a couple of minutes listening to the sounds of the night.
Reluctantly the day ended and it was time to fall into a beautiful satisfying slumber only a place like the Amazon can provide!