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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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
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
All pictures © Julian