|Clear reflections on an Amazon tributary|
We’re on an early morning excursion traveling up river from where our floating hotel, on the 24-passenger La Amatista, is anchored. Along with 13 other people and two guides, my husband and I will travel 65 miles this day deep into the protected Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve, the largest protected wetland reserve in the world.
|La Amatista, our ship, at sunset|
The headwaters of the Amazon originate from glaciers high in the Andes Mountains, and the section through which we’ll travel is entirely in Peru. From there, the river flows eastward for more than 4,000 miles before spreading across miles and surging into the Atlantic Ocean in Brazil. Not just one river, the Amazon includes more than 1,100 tributaries, 17 of which are over 1,000 miles long. The immensity of this river system, largest in the world, is truly hard to comprehend.
|Riberenos fishing in the Amazon|
|Birds including parrots make their home in the rainforest.|
We soon discover why this is a bird-watchers paradise. Thousands of species live in the protected canopy of the rain forest. Several people on our tour really know their stuff and identify dozens of birds including snowy egrets, puffins, king birds, great black hawks, white-winged swallows, terns, and more. To me the birds are simply “the brown one” or “the yellow-beaked one.” We’re amused when Johnny, one of our native guides, excitedly exclaims, “Oh my god, I think I’m going to die!” as he spies a rare bird species.
|Sunset on the Amazon River|
|Our crew entertained us with Peruvian music.|
|Breakfast onboard the skiff|
One morning we leave early on a sunrise cruise. When the skiffs come to a section of flat water the guides serve a full breakfast in style on china plates and lace placemats. Above us on the bank, graceful blue and yellow macaws provide an unforgettable show as they flit from tree to tree in a mating ritual.
In the afternoon we travel back into the Reserve on the Pacaya River, a branch off the Ucayali. Sustainable living practices—hunting and fishing for personal use—are allowed for the thousands of people who live in and around the Reserve, mostly in small, isolated communities. These riberenos live as their ancestors did, unaffected by modern lifestyles.
Photos by Larry and Beverly Burmeier