Meet George Dávila, our Amazon ornithology expert
It is always rewarding to hear how our cruise guests’ most cherished memories are created by our brilliant guides and crew. This month, we kick off our crew highlight series with one of our most sought-after naturalist experts: George Dávila, a true ribereño (riverside dweller).
George grew up in the heart of the Peruvian Amazon, where his curiosity and love for nature motivated him to study ecology, with a specialization in ornithology and herpetology. He joined the Aqua Expeditions family as one of the expert naturalist guides in 2012. With his vast knowledge, friendly and genuine personality, big smile and playful sense of humor, George has been winning over the hearts of our guests for almost eight years; taking them on unforgettable journeys giving the word “authentic” a new meaning.
Tell us about yourself and your journey to becoming an Aqua Expeditions’ naturalist guide.
I was born and raised in the Peruvian Amazon. I went to school in my village and left home to continue studying and learning English as a second language in Iquitos. I started working in tourism when I was 18 years old. As a child, I was very interested in nature, especially birds, which I am now specializing in, as a birdwatcher. I started working at Aqua Expeditions since September 2012, which gave me the great opportunity to travel, learn about other cultures outside my country and grow professionally. I’m very happy to be part of the Aqua Expeditions family.
We know you are a passionate birder, tell us more about this and any other hobbies/interests you engage in. How do you unwind when you’re not on Aria Amazon?
I’ve always been very curious about nature and everything around me. So, I became a listener, and as a way of playing in the jungle, I learnt to identify every single sound around me, especially those from birds. My parents were very good at imitating bird calls, so that’s something I learnt from them. Now as a birdwatcher, I always invite our guests to join us for early morning excursions and talk about why birds are so important to this precious environment.
When I’m not on board the Aria Amazon, I spend as much time as I can with my beloved family and even take them birding sometimes. I really enjoy being outdoors. I belong to a Birdwatchers Club in Iquitos and over weekends, we organize birding trips into the Allpahuayo-Mishana Reserve to learn more about the unique rainforest system of the white sand forests and newly discovered specialists. I also attend workshops and bird congresses in Peru, which help me to constantly grow professionally and share my knowledge with our guests as a naturalist guide.
You welcome guests from all over the world and you are one of the most popular guides onboard! What is your secret to achieving this special connection with our guests?
To be myself and stay cool. I just love what I do, and I do it with great pleasure! I also enjoy meeting guests from different countries and learning about their cultures.
What are the excursions from our itineraries you enjoy doing the most?
All of them are different and interesting to me, but I especially enjoy the early morning activities because of the beautiful and calm atmosphere of the Amazon at this time of day. The temperature is comfortable, and you can enjoy the sounds of birds and spot animals such as sloths and monkeys coming out to feed. Night excursions are my other favorites as the atmosphere is spectacular – you can see completely different species such as caimans, nocturnal snakes, and tarantulas. It’s very exciting to search for nocturnal wildlife with our guests and pay attention to the red eyes reflecting in the dark. I also love looking up at the starry sky on a clear night.
What do you feel guests get the most excited about when stepping into the Amazon for the first time?
The moment they enter the narrow creeks and black water rivers, listening to the sounds of the jungle and walking in the rainforest while discovering the diverse flora and fauna. It’s quite magical.
We cruise through a tropical rainforest with a diverse and complex ecosystem. Do you have any memorable and unexpected moments that happened during our cruises?
Finding a jaguar a couple of years ago made my entire year! All the guests were so impressed! It was also great to find a Harpy Eagle the other week. We were very close to this magnificent creature and all of us just contemplated it for about three minutes. Experiences like these show us how unpredictable the jungle can be and how precious nature and wildlife are.
Why should people come now to experience this amazing ecosystem? What can one do to get involved and give back?
Traveling to the Amazon is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. In order to protect this precious ecosystem, we must educate ourselves about it and understand how all the elements in nature work together. At Aqua Expeditions we develop conservation projects that our guests can be involved in because we want them to feel that they are an important part of this fragile ecosystem. We are all connected, and the life that you save could eventually be your own.
What do you think differentiates an Aqua Expeditions cruise from others in the region?
It is the people that make the difference. We share a passion and love for what we do and transmit this to our guests on every journey, as well as the high standard of personalized service we offer onboard.
If there is one thing you would like our guests to take away with them after an Aqua Expeditions experience, what would it be and why?
To share their experiences on the Amazon with others as new ambassadors of our country because that will help the Amazon and the people who live there. Thank you for giving us the best job in the world!!!