The Amazon…is hot, steamy, and wondrous. Where to begin?

Our Aqua Expedition’s guest, Margo, shares her experiences aboard the Aqua Amazon.

“On February 20, we boarded the Aqua in Iquitos, Peru, for seven days on the Amazon & its tributaries (Maranon, Pacaya, Ucayali, Yanuyacu……black or cocoa……).  Most of our time was spent on 8-passenger skiffs exploring the rain forest, but when we returned to the Aqua, we were pampered in air-conditioned comfort.  Yummy Peruvian food.  21-person crew for the 23 of us.

So what was it like?  It was magical.  Hundreds of pink dolphin & lots of gray ones.  We held baby caimen, caught piranhas, fed baby manatees with a milk bottle.  Monkeys-five different kinds- entertained us each day and sloths slept high in cecropia trees.  The rare sighting of an Amazon porcupine (they have prehensile tails!) even surprised our guides.

Birds there are incredible.  Splashes of primary colors and sounds that defy imagination.  The huatzil is a prehistoric turkey-peacock.  The horned screamer is a gigantic black & white guy with a call like a donkey.  The wondrous caracara sounds like a drop of water hitting a lake.  Colorful orapendulums weave hanging nests like old ladies’ boobs.  Parakeets & parrots squack noisily in huge groups.  Herons and tanagers amaze with their colors.  Hawks and terns amaze with their fishing techniques.  Macaws and toucans…….  Some of us identified over 140 different species and even I had well over 100.

We spent a few hours in a random village along a river.  Impossibly simple lives; what happens if they don’t catch fish?  The 70-yr-old shaman chose me to bless, an elaborate ritual involving much chanting and shaking of a clump of leaves.  (My cold symptoms vanished.)  We brought gifts to hand out to the children.  They sang and we did a rousing “You are my sunshine…” in return.

Our jungle walk turned into an adventure when our young local guide got us into dangerous swamps and then out on a log to traverse a 15 ft.-wide river.  Old hiking skills are good to retain.

High water season on the Amazon and much of the rain forest is flooded.  Our skiffs explored secret spots that took my breath away, light filtering thru the canopy, trees reflecting in still black water.  Giant water lilies & sea lettuce cover entire lakes.  At one point, our skiffs strained in unison to move floating islands of vegetation so that we could get thru.  (Coming back after dark was a little trickier.)

Speaking of after dark, I loved that part.  Our guide playing his light along the fringes of the river, spotting night birds & fishing bats, the red eyes of the caiman.  All that I had hoped for.

The trip was too much nature for Dale, but I was sorry he wasn’t along to enjoy the people—22 of the world’s best (& me).  When you are together for a week, you expect a little mediocrity to emerge.  Absolutely none here.  Harry & Rosemary put together a winning team, as usual.

In the end, I told the crew in my shaky Spanish that the river lives in our hearts.  It certainly does.”

~ Margo