Marañon, Amazon and Ucayali Rivers
This morning a full skiff left early for birding along the banks of the Maranon River. We had some excellent sightings of a plum-throated cotinga, silver-beaked tanagers, hooded blackbirds, oriole blackbirds, yellow-rumped caciques, short-tailed parrots and quite a few more! By the time we returned, we were more than ready to breakfast, knowing that it included, as it does every morning, a selection of exotic Amazonian fruit juices. Have to admit camu-camu wins hands-down for me.
After breakfast everyone found rubber boots standing sentinel next to their cabin doors. We left prepared for the first visit inside the rain forest. At first the trail led through open areas, obviously being used by the nearby community members as their field for growing banana trees (many varieties), papaya, beans and who-knows-what-else, in a tumble of exurberant leafy life. As we moved under the canopy, the temperature dropped immediately and dramatically. To a comfortable 85ºF – but with high humidity, of course. The forest floor was covered by fast-decomposing leaf litter, so footfalls were soft and muffled. Layers and layers of leaves of many shapes and sizes stood all around us. Strange fruits and flowers peeked through the branches, a trogon called and was spotted. A spotted tody-flycatcher flit from one tree to the next. We snacked on a stem of wild ginger to refresh us as the humidity climbed.
By the time we reached the school in the community of San Fransisco we were more than ready for the ice-cold bottle of water waiting for us. The children whose turn it was to be in class were totally distracted by our arrival. Everyone knew we were coming for a while (since early morning), so the talented artisans, mostly the women of the village, had their wares laid out in the shade of the outside corridor.
Since only mad-dogs and Englishmen get out in noon-day sun, we left about then to return to the luxurious air-conditioned cabins of Delfin II. Lunch was exquisite as always, siesta was now a routine, and an afternoon presentation about the Amazon basin and river was given by Jesus, one of our Naturalists on board.
The afternoon was effortless, some choosing to swim in the Amazon River, Maranon River, and Ucayali River all at the same time. Yes indeed, we took a skiff out to the very point in the junction of the Maranon and Ucayali rivers where the combined rivers from then are known as the mighty Amazon. The water was a delicious 82F, (see the radar screen) so we drifted, floated and cooled off in this most remarkable location.
Sunset cocktails on the top deck to celebrate the river saw a wall of rain approach from downriver, (always from the east). During dinner it arrived, a massive rainstorm which made us think we might not get out later, but it calmed down just in time for us to take a night hike with flashlights where we saw a number of diffferent tree frogs, pinktoe tarantualas and lots of kataydids. More impressive possibly were the sounds and sights of lightnings bugs throughout the forest from floor to canopy, and the chorus of night sounds from across the pond. We all turned out our lights and kept quiet. The reward was something we won't hear again anytime soon.