Locals call the Yacapana Isles the “the Isle of the Iguana” thanks to the great number of these reptiles, resembling tiny dinosaurs, which inhabit them. Amazonian beliefs state that if you touch an iguana, you will develop some of its characteristics and, as no one wants to look like one of them, these animals are well protected. Pass very close the islands aboard the launches, giving you an opportunity to take good photos of the flora and fauna that we are able to observe along our route. You will also have the opportunity to go fishing for the infamous piranhas with your naturalists.
As the sun sets, you will have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see and photograph both gray and pink freshwater dolphins. The people of the Amazon believe that these dolphins turn into humans to steal handsome men or pretty women from their villages during celebrations. Once the sun sets and the jungle is dark, begin your search for caiman, frogs, and different kinds of nightlife.
This afternoon, embark on a river excursion where you will be able to appreciate the different types of freshwater dolphin, including the rare pink dolphins found along the Ucayali River. Bring your binoculars as there will also be opportunities to observe some species of birds, among which the macaws stand out, as well as a spectacular sundown. Depending on how the evening progresses, you will be able to watch nocturnal wildlife on the Dorado River, especially the caimans. Sometimes, the guides attempt to capture some of these ancient reptiles and you will have the opportunity to take photos.
Travel by skiff to Puerto Miguel native village, where the local people will extend you a very warm welcome. With your guide acting as interpreter, you can talk with them about their way of life along the river. And of course, no one has to interpret the kids’ bright smiles. It is also a wonderful opportunity to buy small handicrafts. On the way back to the M/V Aria, navigate on a small connector canal between the Ucayali and Marañon Rivers, where you will have a chance to see the world’s largest aquatic plant, the giant water lilies or “Victoria Regias.” Have your cameras at the ready.
Later this afternoon, enjoy an excursion to Nauta Caño, also a part of the Pacaya Samiria Reserve. It is known as the mirrored forest, due to its glistening black water lagoons. Here you will enjoy observing different species, such as: toucans, parrots, macaws, iguanas, and more. On the way back to the M/V Aria you will see a glorious sunset reflected in the waters of the mirrored forest.
This afternoon your walk takes you into the jungle. On this walk, your guides will introduce you to native people doing subsistence farming, and will tell you how they learned to cultivate wild plants and trees to earn farm income. As your adventure takes you deep into the primary forest, your guides will also show you the wealth of fruit trees and medicinal plants hidden in the jungle – and will reveal some of the plants’ secrets.
Option A: Full-day excursion to Primary forest with a Picnic Lunch
This morning you will board your skiff to go deep into the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve, along the Samiria River. Along the route, have the opportunity to see various species of monkey, such as howler monkeys, squirrel monkeys, saddleback tamarin monkeys and many bird species such as blue, yellow and scarlet macaws as well as toucans and some species of river hawks. Arrive at the PV2 Tacsha watchpost, where you will follow a path deep into the rainforest. Enjoy a generous picnic lunch, before beginning your journey back to the vessel.
Option B: Guided Jungle Walk/Siesta/Monkey and Dolphin Expedition
This morning your Naturalist Guide will tell you all about sustainable resource management projects in Amazonia, and will take you to one of these projects, where villagers are planting palms to obtain oil. Your Guide may also show you the artificial nests created on the sand to protect turtle eggs. Then go deep into the jungle, where you will encounter wildlife and learn first-hand about the important medicinal value of many jungle plants. See the famous Kapok Trees (ceiba pentandra), the tallest trees in the Amazon Basin.
Return to the MV Aria for lunch and a siesta. In this late afternoon skiff excursion, keep your eyes directed toward the jungle canopy, where you can spot at least several kinds of primates—some of the 13 species of monkeys resident in the National Reserve. Perhaps you will catch a glimpse of tamarins and dusky titi monkeys, as well as pigmy marmoset monkeys. Watch for alligators, and keep your binoculars at the ready, as you are likely to see more than 200 species of birds. As the sun sets and our searchlight comes on, keep your eyes out for caimans, tree boas, tarantulas, and frogs.
This afternoon, travel to this splendid “hot spot” lake, where you will be certain to catch some of the more than 3,000 species of tropical fish that live in the Amazon basin. The key focus will be on piranhas, those small, sharp-teethed carnivorous fish with a big reputation for being scary. Catching one will make for great cocktail conversation back home.
Your afternoon in the remote city of Iquitos, accessible only by river or air, will not disappoint. This bustling town, complete with a house built by Gustave Eiffel, was once a rich center of the rubber industry. Before heading for the airport, visit the Manatee Rescue Center, where biologists and volunteers care for endangered Amazon manatees that conservation authorities have seized from local people, including fishermen. Biologists will give a presentation about the project and its efforts to help these helpless mammals. You will also see how the manatees are cared for and are prepared for re-introduction into their natural habitat. Finally, stop at the San Juan Amazonian Indian Market, for a last chance to shop for local crafts before boarding your flight back to Lima. Upon arrival at Iquitos International Airport, guides will help you with check-in and will stay with you until you have boarded your flight back to Lima.
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