Monday, January 27, 2014

Cruising Down the Amazon River with Aqua Adventures on the Aria

The first part of the Peru Expedition 2014 entailed an Amazon River cruise aboard the Aria for a few days.  We flew from Lima to Iquitos which is in the far northeastern corner of Peru.  This is where the headwaters of the Amazon River are located as it flow all the way to the Atlantic Ocean.

We were met at the airport and given a short tour of the city of Iquitos before boarding our boat.  The Aria is a three deck boat with 8 cabins on the first level and 8 more on the second.  The third deck is an observation deck as well as bar and lecture room.

The opening night we were given a welcome speech along with safety instructions for the vessel.  Afterwards we were served the first of many extraordinary meals.  The boat has its own chef and to say the food is top notch would not being doing justice.  Every meal was wonderful. We retired to our rooms ready to go for the next day of adventure.

Breakfast was at 7:30 the next morn and then we were given a 30 minute presentation on the local Amazon River fish that was quite informative.  Then we boarded small motor boats that held 8 people each along with our driver and naturalist guide.

We were off to explore an Amazon tributary and look for wildlife.  At the mouth of the tributary we were treated to a solitary pink dolphin doing a bit of hunting.

Not long after entering the side river we came across a fisherman that had just caught a very large sting ray during his fishing.  These sting rays can get quite large and our guide said fisherman step on them quite regularly and get stuck by the sharp tail.

As we continued up river we were treated to all kinds of wildlife.  A large green tree iguana.  Several sightings of three toed tree sloths.  A few monkeys scattered about and finally another group of pink dolphins that was most challenging to photograph.

The excursion lasted four hours and was a total blast.  Back to the ship for lunch and an afternoon siesta before our afternoon excursion.

The afternoon was back out on the skiffs searching for more wildlife down a side tributary.  The birds were just spectacular and I plan a later story just to focus on the wonderful birds we saw as well as photographed.

Cornell University runs a wildlife rehabilitation and study center on this tributary so that was our next stop.  Across the river we found the cutest three monkeys who were quite happy to come down and pose for us.

Then we crossed the river to the research center where they had an ocelot running around the dock area.  How beautiful is this cat?

Finally back to the Aria to cleanup and dinner ending day 1.  Can day 2 be any better?

Read about Day 2 & 3 of the Amazon River Expedition here. 


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