Peru 2000 an Amazon Adventure (part 3)

Allan James


Day 7
p bright and early at 6 to photograph the sunrise and then a sit down for breakfast. One of the local Indians came around to visit us in his canoe and showed us his catch of Pimelodus fasciatum and a woodcat species; the cameras were out in force.


Corydoras elegans collecting site.

 Corydoras elegans collecting site


This was the most superb day of all as I caught my first Corydoras. We crossed the short creek from the boat at the Madre Reserve, walked about 450 yards across a timber bridge and down to the Tunche Cano stream were we caught Corydoras elegans by the score and the adrenaline is really running high now. Jools and I were really up for it and we couldn't stop talking and laughing at the same time as we scooped up Cory after Cory with sometimes three or four in our catch nets. The substrate here was rusty red clay covered with a leaf litter over a closed canopy as can be seen in the accompanying photograph.

All good things have to come to an end but things were to get even better in the afternoon. We traveled about a ½ mile back down the Rio Orosa to a small flooded cocha at Eloise's house, a local Indian woman who's husband had died a few years earlier and had lived alone ever since with her dog and chickens for company.

The rest of the group crossed the cocha, which was waist deep to net near the house. I decided to head in the opposite direction from the house at the head of the small lake as I had quickly learned that when there is a lot of netting activity going on, the water gets quite turbid and lessons the chance of catching fish.


The author catching Corydoras elegans

The author catching Corydoras elegans


The first few sweeps brought up young Amblydoras hancocki (talking catfish). They must have been spawning here as they were really tiny, I kept a few but there was far too many and released quite a few of them back to their home. There was also Cichlids here of the Aquidens genus. I then started to catch Brochis splendens, which were a stunning green colouration, which heralded the arrival of the rest of the party. I must have caught about 30 splendens all about young adult size, a good day by anyone's standards. We went back to the boat happy and I was ready for our evening meal.

We relaxed at night playing cards with Steve and the two American boys, Stuart and Corrie. We had a few beers of course but retired early at 11pm for a good nights sleep (in spite of the generator).

Day 8.
Slept well and woke about 6am and wondered up to the main deck. A couple of local families had caught a few whiptail cats under the Madre Serva Reserve Station and I went down to the lower deck to barter with them. I swapped a t-shirt and 2 batteries (for their torches) to each family for their catches, one of the tops being my much coveted Heart of Midlothian football top, so the Hearts now have a supporter in the Peruvian jungle! One of the fish traded was a rather large Sturisoma species and the rest were common whiptails, which are now safely tucked up in a tank in my fish house.


Jools with his dead Pleco!

Jools with his dead Pleco!

After breakfast we sailed back up the river to a village where the locals were expecting us. This was a part of the trip that I was looking forward to as we met the local village folk and traded our t-shirts and batteries for the locally made souvenirs such as dried seeds and an enormous pair of Dorid pectoral bones, which must have made this fish about a foot long! I also snapped up a set of panpipes, which were made to order on the day! which I still can't play properly. We then set sail back down the river for about 2 hours to the next reserve, the Paucarillo Forest Preserve.

We docked here and went quite a trek through the jungle to a small stream where we found Apistogramma agassizi in abundance, youngsters and large adults in their colourful livery. In the evening we stopped of at a large village/town as the crew of the boat wanted to see the World Cup qualifier between Peru and Colombia. Jools, Stu and I joined the crew to watch the match in the local school hall on satellite TV. with one of the local youngsters of the village stationed beside the screen to swipe away the flies of the screen! We stayed for about half an hour with most of the village crowded around us and it came to a head when Jools suddenly shot out of his seat and explained in a pained expression that he had to go a place, he was certainly a funny colour and I don't think I have ever seen him move so fast, all the way back to the boat in Olympic time! Inca's revenge strikes. Stu and I headed back, had a beer and retired for the night.

Day 9
It was my turn for the Inca's revenge this morning as I had terrible stomach cramps and the rest of the day was lost and just a blur as I slept off and on. I missed the night trip when a few of the lads went collecting in the skiff with their torches. I would have liked that but I just crashed out again at 8.30 to bed.

Day 10
Felt a bit better today but tired. I didn't eat anything, just drank, not beer, but tea and plenty of it. I spent most of the day changing water in the basins, which were supplied to us for that purpose, but I had lost a few fish due to not being able to change the water the previous day. We also relaxed on deck as the Amazon Explorer made its way back up the Amazon River to the Port of Iquitos. We arrived late afternoon and disembarked where we were driven back to our hotel, the Amazon Gardens. The first thing I done was to dangle my feet in the hotel pool, fantastic! Jools, Clare and I said our goodbyes to our fellow passengers who were either staying over for another week or leaving the following day (Saturday). We flew out of Iquitos on the 8.10pm flight to the capital city of Lima and were met there at the airport by the representative of the Manhattan Hotel. He drove us over to the hotel and if any of you have ever been in Lima traffic it was a very scary experience! It was a first class hotel where we had a couple of drinks at the bar where the barman spent his time practicing his English on us, (in a Scottish accent) a lot better than my Spanish. The three of us then retired for the night to our nice comfortable beds.

Woke up the unearthly time of 4am and decided to have a long hot shower, it was bliss! Breakfast at 5.30 and then of to the Airport for the early morning return flight to Atlanta. After we arrived in Atlanta we just made the 6.30pm flight to Gatwick, London as we had declared our fish boxes at U.S.Customs and he checked most of the fish bags. He was only concerned that we hadn't any Piranhas or electric eels. It was a long flight made only bearable by the good movies on board. Arrived Gatwick at 7.30am London time and I had to sit around for the 12.15 connections to Glasgow. We just drank tea and coke and we all felt like s**t. I said my goodbyes to Jools and Clare (who had fallen asleep) who were waiting for a later flight to Edinburgh.

I arrived back in Glasgow and was picked up by another CSG member, Mark Bryson, who dutifully dropped me of from where I had started 12 days earlier at the ferry for the Clyde crossing. Arrived home at 4.00pm shattered and still not feeling too well. It must have been at least two weeks before I was back to normal but I must admit that I would do it all over again with a bit of luck in the not too distant future.

My thanks go out to my travelling companions Jools, Clare, Steve, Alan, Chris, Robin, Giles and Terry for making this trip such an enjoyable experience and of course Drs. David Schleser and Devon Graham for their invaluable help and patience and I hope that I haven't bored you too much with my meanderings.

All pictures © Julian Dignall @
Planet Catfish



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