This special place is bordered by two major rivers, the Marañon and the Ucayali, putting it literally on the edge of civilization. Our ship “anchored” as we do on the river (you tie up to a sturdy tree), and just across from us we could see an oil drilling site. The Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve is a stronghold for the wildlife of the upper Amazon. We had exceptional views of that wildlife, from jabiru wood storks to three-toed sloths and an anaconda that had just eaten another resident, a spectacled caiman. How fortunate that someone had the foresight to set aside this wild place so that others could enjoy the sights, sounds, and smells of an intact tropical rainforest.
We are at the end of our week together exploring the Upper Peruvian Amazon. When we go home, will we hear car alarms in parking lots? Or will we hear black-fronted nunbirds, which could easily be the sound that was copied? We have investigated the big and the small, from towering fig trees poking their leafy tops through the forest canopy, to frogs small enough to fit on your thumbnail. Our trio of hardworking, informative, and enthusiastic naturalists–Jorge, Javier, and Ricardo–brought everything we saw to life. We have them to thank for making sense of this massive and diverse batch of biology. During the week, we took piles of pictures. We won’t have Jorge in our living room to remind us that a certain photo features a long-billed woodcreeper, but we can now feed our images into the application called “SEEK.” This application will remind us not only of what we saw, but it will also tell us some of the most interesting facts about that organism. I’m thinking we’ll hear the text play in our minds in Jorge’s voice.