This is the day when the serious adventure begins. After
Breakfast at 8am we repacked our bags and headed for our
boat the Amazon Explorer where we were given our cabins
for the rest of our journey down the Amazon.
They are a bit cramped with two bunk beds and a shower/toilet.
I shared with Robin Warne from Huddersfield who joined us
along with two other CSG members, Giles Barlow and Chris
Ralph, who all came to Peru a week earlier and had done
the grand tour of Cusco and Machu Pichu, which I fancy doing
myself sometime in the future. The boat had an ongoing problem
with its generator so we just got out the fishing rods and
hung them over the sides and preceded to catch large hatchet
fish, Triportheus sp., with would you believe it,
bread rolls on the hooks, wow! what a start. We had still
not left Iquitos yet because of the generator so we left
the boat by skiff (long boat with outboard motor) and headed
across to the opposite bank to do our first fish collecting.
This was good training for our trip as I went up to my knees
in the water as you sink in the muddy clay at your feet.
We caught small characins (Hemigrammus sp) and pims
(blochi and maculatus). After about an hour
we headed back to the Amazon Explorer.
We then set off at 2pm
for the Rio Nanay picking up a new generator on the way.
After a short trip up the river we laid anchor and took
the skiff across to our first village. We lighted and proceeded
to follow Dr.Fish ( David Schleser) and Dr.Bird (Devon Graham)
through the village. What really enthralled me here was
a full-bodied game of football going on between two teams
fully rigged out with strips and a commentary going on by
megaphone! Nothing changes around the world where football
is concerned, not even in the Amazon jungle. We fished,
with our nets two shallow blackwater creeks at Padro Cocha
where I caught my first catfish, an unusual one for me,
a small gold parasitic cat and also small Ancistrus,
Hyanuary tetras and a small Pike Cichlid which I later found
out to be a male Crenichila lucius. The p.H of the
stream was about 6.5 and the temp 75°F.
Our first night on the boat comprised of a meal of pineapples,
avocados, carrots, tomatoes and Shovelnose Catfish (dourada),
rice and bread, we then finished that off with a few beers.
We then fished off the side of the boat and caught a few
10inch Cetopis (parasitic whale cats) I didn't think
I would hear myself saying this about a catfish but they
were gruesome looking and not the least bit pretty. Retired
to bed at 1-15am after a few more beers.
Woke up with a rotten headache this morning, I think due
to the noise of the generator, definitely not the beer!
The weather so far has been overcast but nice and comfortable
(70°-75°F). We had breakfast at 7am and headed down
river and berthed at an Indian village of Atun Cocha where
the headman of the village informed the party about a forest
stream part of the way through the jungle. We walked the
jungle path for about 20 minutes and I was enthralled with
the amount of Butterflies flying around especially the Morpha
which are electric blue and apparently it is illegal to
take out of Peru, dead or alive. There was an abundance
of different trees, hollow Balsa wood trees and one tree
with porcupine type spikes (palm trees), which I can assure
you are quite sharp and sore! We at last stopped at the
clearwater stream but it was quite disappointing, as we
didn't catch too many fish here, another small Pike Cichlid
being my only catch. The weather is changing now and is
getting quite sunny and hot so on with the sun cream and
the silly hat. The water levels are still a bit too high
this year and this makes it harder to catch fish.
We made our way back to the Amazon Explorer where we had
the 'Dourada' again, done this time in a batter, which was
delicious. We now headed again down the Amazon towards the
Rio Orosa and stopped in the afternoon at a mud sandbar
on the upper Amazon adjacent to a small Village, this was
one of the funniest episodes of the trip especially trying
to walk the gangplank from the boat and ending up to our
knees in mud. If you have ever tried to walk in knee deep
mud its not to be recommended especially when you start
sinking in it and you suddenly realise that your traveling
companions are all taller than you and I'm 6' 1"! I
was pulled out by Steve, who by the way was standing on
my feet under the mud, and a native boy who must have thought
that we were all mad. Then Chris Ralph decided to follow
my example and started sinking in the gooey mess and he
is only 5ft odd! I don't know how we got him out with all
the laughing that was going on, but we managed.
With all the hilarity going on, I never caught any fish.
When we got back on board a (cold) shower was definitely
on the cards. After we all cleaned up we all sat down to
our dinner where the Chef had made a fruit cake which went
down well with a cup of tea. We made our way into the Rio
Orosa and on to the Madre Selva Forest Preserve, which is
run by the Amazonian Project, this area covers 50sq. km.
and is one of three on this clearwater tributary.
We berthed by the floating house/office and later started
fishing from the deck pulling in Calophsysus macropterus,
a large pim which is known as an Amazon vulture and will
eat just about anything. We pulled in quite a few large
pims here. I retired to bed at midnight after an enjoyable
but hectic day and crashed out, apart from the ever-noisy
generator of course!
© Julian Dignall @
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