"It is a humbling experience, and surely a healthy
one, to enter a landscape that man has not been able
to alter, to dominate, to twist to his own purposes."
Marston Bates/Where Winter
his is my own personal experiences
over a twelve day period on a trip that for me was a
once in a lifetime adventure and I hope that it will
give you an insight on what to expect if you ever have
the fortune to experience it for yourself, and of course
to also have an understanding bank manager!
MY adventure actually started at Glasgow Airport on
the Wednesday evening flight to London/Gatwick on the
12th July and an overnight stay at a B&B near the
Airport. Next morning I met Steve Pritchard and Alan
Appleton at Gatwick, meeting Alan for the first time,
as I had known Steve for a number of years. The flight
for Atlanta USA was leaving at 11.55am and at 11am there
was still no sight of our traveling companions the husband
and wife team of Julian (Jools) Dignall (from www.planetcatfish.com)
and his long suffering wife Clare!. We boarded the flight
ready to fly when the aforementioned couple scrambled
aboard all stressed out before we had even started our
adventure, their flight from Edinburgh was late but
no worries as we all settled down for the 8 hour flight
to Atlanta, Georgia.
We arrived at Atlanta Airport at 4.30pm after a good
flight and had a 6-hour wait for our next connection,
the Delta flight to Lima, Peru. If you ever have to
hang about at this airport try the yogurt on offer,
lovely, lovely! We boarded the 10.20pm flight to Lima
and tried to sleep on and off which was only broken
by the hilarious antics of Alan when he woke up with
a start and sent his dinner halfway down the aisle,
Arrived in Lima, capital of Peru, at the unearthly hour
of 4.30 in the morning of the 14th (I think) then we
were off again on our internal flight with TACAS Airways
to Iquitos on the edge of the Amazon.
over the Andes
The highlight of this flight was the view of the snow-capped
Andes Mountains from the plane window, fantastic, then
again from the window our first look at the Amazon Rainforest
and its meandering tributaries.
Landed at Iquitos Airport which by the way has the longest
name for an airport that you will ever see in the world,
so long that I couldn't remember it.
over the Amazon Basin
the local manager for Margarita Tours, met us and if
there ever was a man organised, he is that man. Off
we went in the minibus into town to our Hotel, the short
journey was memorable as I had never seen a place like
it, there seemed to be a soap opera being played out
on every corner and the taxi's were something else,
a fantastic and vibrant city.
We arrived at the Amazon
Gardens Hotel or Hostel as they are called here where
we had a small pool situated just outside the reception
area. The rooms were pretty basic but comfortable. We
went for a short walk around to get our bearings then
retired for a short nap to recharge our batteries. Before
we went out for a meal at night we met our tour guides
and operators Drs. David Schleser and Devon Graham who
turned out to be the two most enthusiastic people I
had ever met.
We took our meal at Ari's Diner, which was recommended
to us and known to the locals as "Gringolandi"
as tourists usually find their way here. This is were
I ate something that I thought I would never eat, Catfish!,
it was the local variety labeled in the menu as 'Dourada',
and most probably the large Pimelodid, Brachyplatastoma
flavicans, it was very nice and I put my guilty
conscience to the back of my mind.
It was a fun relaxing evening and the five of us rode
back to the hotel in these fantastic taxi's which was
basically a motorbike with the back cut off and double
wheels welded on with a seat and canopy, great fun.
Steve and I retired for the night and we woke at 5.30am
with Steve suggesting that we head down to the fish
market before breakfast, well why not I was on holiday.
This was the time that I wished that I had learned
some Spanish as we had trouble communicating with the
taxi driver and ended up at the Fruit Market instead,
it was still interesting and I had never seen so many
bananas in the one place before. After breakfast we
headed off for a look at the fish exporters in town.
fighters at Rio Mamon
First one we stopped off at was Rio Mamon and
let me tell you we only got here and most other places
by taxi with Devon, who was pretty fluent in the lingo.
Rio Mamon is run by an Austrian
who breeds believe it or not Asian Siamese fighters
which were lined up in rows on half a dozen shelves.
They had lots of Cory's here notably C. fowleri and
C. aeneus (Peru Gold stripes). We then headed
for the second exporter, Yacarunas International Enterprise
that had some nice Loracariids and Characins. In the
afternoon we visited the fish and food markets an experience
in itself. In the evening myself, Devon, Jools, Clare,
Steve and Alan went for a few beers, the Peruvian beer
is to be well recommended. We then went on to a Chinese
Restaurant for a great sweet and sour and a few more
beers of course.
All pictures © Allan
Follow link to part 2 of An