Expedition to the upper reaches of the Amazon River
Closest dates: August 12-August 29, 2012
The basin of the Amazon River is one of the most remote and untouched places in the world. Here you can still come across virgin tropical forests untouched by society, tribes of indigenous people who , never having seen metal and plastic, still make their tools from stone, wild animals and fish among which are piranha, tapirs, jaguars and anacondas.
The Amazon River flows in the territory of several countries at a time: Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia and Bolivia. Our expedition is aimed at visiting Indian tribes, both contact and non-contact who inhabit the upper reaches of the world’s greatest river. We head east of Peru, Pakaya Samiria National Park which is in 2 days up the Amazon from the capital of peruvian selva, the city of Iquitos.
In this part of the world the rainy season lasts 8 months, and as a result the vast majority of the land is flooded. The Amazon eventually drains into a huge continental sea. Ancient trees interlaced with lianas grow right out of the water. All non-aquatic creatures move to higher ground here. As for people, they build their houses on piles. 3 months a year from June till the beginning of October there is a curious form of low tide, with the water receding, uncovering vast lands. We organize our expedition in this period of time.
The expedition lasts 10-14 days. Through the course of the expedition, we plan to cover a distance of 200 km by foot and canoe which separates the southern and northern borders of Pakaya-Samiria National Park which in turn separates 2 tributaries of the Amazon, the rivers Ucayali and Maranon. En route we will visit several Indian settlements where we can see how in the 21st century people still live the lives our forerunners did at the dawn of civilization. Using fishing rods we are going to catch piranhas which the locals use as a natural aphrodesiac. If we are lucky enough we will come across a jaguar and one of the most cautious inhabitants of the tropical forest, the tapir. We will hunt for caymans with our bare hands and if fortune smiles on us we will not lose a chance to have a close look at the world’s longest snake-anaconda.
To begin the trip
Our expedition starts in the city of Iquitos which can be reached by a regular flight from Lima, the Peruvian capital and then by a local passenger ship. Onboard, we can lay hammocks on a weather deck around a couple hundred Indians carrying domestic animals, children. With our baggage we will go up the Amazon River until we reach Bretania village from where we will enter Pakaya –Samiria National park.
First we arrive in Lima, one of the most beautiful Latin American capitals. Then we will enjoy our accommodations in a downtown hotel before going on a city tour around the downtown area built in the Spanish colonial style of the XVIII century. Then we will have a night tour around the Plaza de Armas, this is the capital square decorated with thousands of lights.
Early in the morning we will head to the airport. We will have a flight to the capital of Peruvian jungles, Ikitos, where, unlike Rome, no roads lead to this city. It can only be reached by air or by water. In this city there are asphalt roads bit practically no cars. Instead you can come across thousands of bikes, diluted with the occasional wood buses, which rush here and there at full speed. We then check in at a hotel and begin adapting to 30°C heat and almost 100% humidity. Such weather is going to remain over the next weeks.
A city tour will show us the rapid growth of Ikitos, which is associated with the natural rubber production that occurs here , this product is known as caoutchouc, the peak of which was in the first decades of the XX century. The city cathedral was build at that time, made of iron plates by the Eiffel project, the group that designed the Eiffel Tower in Paris. A must see place is the Amazon embankment where the Indians sell their souvenirs. One can go to the market to be imbued with the spirits of peasants and hunters that are believed to inhabit the neighboring forests; then pop up to the port where the ships, many of which were built in the first half of the XIX century, pull onto the clay shores. Through the course of the day we try to get used to the heat and humidity, try to drink a lot and not to overwork ourselves.
On this day we take off for the port, but before we do this we will have to buy hammocks. Over the next few days we will have to sleep in them, onboard a small ship that will take us upstream in the Amazon. We should arrive at the ship 4 hours before its departure to have time to take the most comfortable places for our hammocks, away from the engine room. Part of this time will be used to hang up a hammock and place a rucksack near. By the time of departure the ship will fill up with hundreds of passengers, many of who will try to hang up their hammocks right above your head! The first night in the ship is going to stick in your memory for a long time due to its exotic atmosphere, the diversity of luggage and also due to the unnatural position of your body in a hammock, and the fresh air above the river.
This whole day will be spent on the river. The ship moves confidently up the river at twenty to twenty five kilometers per hour to get to the one of the ports of the eastern foothills of the Andes in a week. From here cargos to Big Peru are regularly carried by car. Meanwhile we will see only yellow waters (clay washed off the mountain colors the water) overboard and river dolphins that occasionally come up near the ship.
After 4-5 hours, we will arrive at a small Indian village where the houses are built from palm fronds. The local inhabitants are likely to board the ship and offer exotic food- baked yucca, fried fish caught in the Amazon and bananas.
Your view will be incredible, as you plow through the greatest river in South America and the ship surmounts one bend after another, getting around half-submerged islands.
On the shores there are beautiful century-old giant trees dozens of meters long occasionally parting for cleared spaces planted with banana palms and yucca. Once every few hours we will dock at small Indian settlements without piers, so the ship has to drag itself onto the clay shore with its flat bilge and then, as the engine room roars, inch by inch slip down the shore. Before such a trip you will need to provide yourself with food. They do serve food on the ship but it is quite scant, it is being cooked on river water, sometimes you have to look for more than an hour. The cooks on this ship ship are transvestite Peruvians.
At 3 am we will land in an inconspicuous little Indian village called Britania after the British Empire whose nationals actively produced rubber there towards the end of the XIX century.
Near one of the Indian houses, which are a wood platform on piles covered above with palm leaves, we set up a camp.
In the morning we can walk around the village, see its inhabitants, go to the only shop in the settlement which has the only TV set in the entire village and which works only 2 hours every morning- when the only generator is on. However, most of the time we are going to be stared at because foreigners are not very frequent visitors in the area.
This will be our last chance to stock up on goods for the expedition.
Furthermore there are no shops, or electricity, do not expect to have modern comforts.
In the morning we will leave the camp, load our luggage in the canoe and cross the Amazon the width of which at this point is a bit less than a kilometer. On another shore on the opposite side of the village there is an office of the Pakaya Samiria National Park. From here having issued all documents we will go deep into the park. The water here is not that rough but very clear and dark. Before the evening, which we will spend in the huntsman’s camp, we are going to cross several bogs dotted with giant lilies, more than a meter wide.
Hordes of monkeys will jump from one tree to another, escorting our flotilla. Above the river thousands of herons of various kinds will make rounds and macaws will peacefully rest in the trees.
We will get to the next huntsman’s camp in a day, the last one on our way deep in the wild selva. Here we will manage to a rest a little bit by hanging up our hammocks and mosquito nets and catch some fish in the river to later cook for dinner. The vast majority of our take is going to be piranhas that always bite any bit of meat or another fish. It doesn’t take much to catch a piranha, you will only need a little bit of meat and they will take the bait quickly. Among the locals this fish is well known for being a strong aphrodisiac.
In the afternoon we will take off to the first walking sortie to the primary forest, a forest that has never been touched by the axe of a woodcutter. Here we have to get used to the woodland, and its sounds and atmosphere. We have to learn not to be afraid of it.
Further along the route are only the forest and the river. We head north going from the river Ukayaly to the river Maranyon that forms one of the world’s most full-flowing rivers, the Amazon. Most of the time we spend in water, the territory covers the vast majority of the forest. However, the water here is not a river, they are rather swamps dotted with small islands of grass, algae and snags. Coming across one of these natural forts we will have to cut our way for canoes that are made of one whole tree trunk using a machete. We will set up our camp on a shore that is dry enough to build a fire. We will have to use torches as rarely as possible since hordes of insects might be attracted to the light.
Making our way though thick jungles we will raft through both rivers and swamps, landing in dry areas. We will have to learn how to find clean drinking water without wasting energy. We will also have to recognize water-bearing lianas, and be able to tell them from poisonous ones. In the afternoon we will learn how to make a shelter from what nature provides using palm leaves as the main building material. This day our instructor will show you how to filter water using special reagents to use it for drinking without having to be afraid of parasites and malignant bacteria.
We will keep going the north, towards the river Maranyon. In this high humidity it is rather difficult to be active during the day, so we try to do everything in the morning and evening, to avoid activity during the hottest parts of the day. In the daytime our aborigine guide will give us a tour to acquaint us with the local flora. Apart from the names and distinctive features of the majority of tress that grow in the jungles we will learn to find edible fruits and to tell them from poisonous ones, we will also learn about medicinal properties of various tropical plants
This tropical forest is not only abundant in plant life, but it is also inhabited by thousands of species of insects, birds and animals. After getting used to what surrounds us we begin to look closely at the creatures that move and crawl under our feet. We will have to learn to identify animal’s tracks, how long ago they left these traces, recognize their calls and more importantly to learn not to be afraid of them.
As soon as we get used to the fact that the surrounding environment is full of wild life and that not everything wants to eat us we will feel as confident and calm as though we were at home.
Since the Amazon basin is a world combining land and water, the border between which is so transparent and changes every single day, it is fair enough that such conditions are an excellent place for myriads of vermigrades, limnetic fish and reptiles. We will also see caimans, and snakes among which we may encounter meters long anacondas and barely noticeable but very venomous snakes living in forest litter, and tree snakes - all this diversity will reveal itself to you.
This day we are going to spend on the shores of Forest Lake that is being blown with fresh wind driving the mosquitoes off. We will rest, fish and build a fire. At night we will take off to track animals that you will fail to find in the daytime. These are caimans with anacondas that you can find only on the water surface by an orange reflection of their eyes in the sunlight, tapirs which move using the same tracks that have been trampled out for years and years, from their dens to the grass land where they feed.
After a days long trip we ultimately get to a small Indian village that is hidden in the jungles of the National Park. The advances of civilization have reached this place however. Rarely do the locals wear traditional costumes here, metal axes and machetes prevail over other tools, though the general methods of life of the local dwellers, who in addition seldom speak Spanish, do not differ from the way of life their ancestors who lived there thousands of years ago before white colonialists came. We will spend the night on the outskirts of the village in the camp we set up on our own.
We have been in the jungles for quite a while so it is high time for us to learn to find our bearings in the tropical forest. We will have to understand in which direction the local rivers flow, whether they flow to get to the village or just to the hunter’s lodge. We also have to keep in mind a general plan for our travel; we will need to have an idea of our surroundings, and be aware of the four cardinal directions. It’s obvious that the vast majority of forest paths have been made by animals, and so they will not lead us anywhere helpful if we take them. Under vigilant control of our instructors and a native guide, each member of the group will try to scout a daytime part of the route for the group by himself.
Not much time is left until we reach civilization. But do we really want to go back there? Our bodies will be used to the forest noise and have became estranged from the urban environment; they will now be accustomed to the high level of humidity and heat, to numerous insects, piranhas and monkeys that bother people with their calls and left behind the urban fuss and continual predictability of life in a heavily populated culture. No wonder we might ask ourselves if we really need to go back. This day is the last chance to come across wild animals in their natural habitat. We still have a chance to encounter anacondas, caimans, tapirs and even jaguars that are being greatly endangered these days.
We enter the little Indian village on the shores of the Maranyon. Now everyday life of the locals does not seem peculiar and their food: fried bananas –plantains, fish and yucca are a regular part of their diets. Now we have to wait for a ship or a big boat that carries tons of bananas and will go down the river to the city of Nauta. We will spend the night in a wood lodge that is already located in civilized jungles. There we will have an opportunity to have a shower and meet other tourists who will go to selva for a day or two. For them these lands are beyond the boundaries of reality while for us, people who spent quite a while in wild unpopulated areas, this place seems to be very civilized in comparison.
Early in the morning we will leave for Nauta, further from there we will go to Ikitos by asphalt highway.
These hot and humid days do not seem to be stifling as they were a couple of weeks ago. We completely got used to the tropical climate. After accommodation in a hotel we will spend the rest of the day walking around the city, purchasing souvenirs and fruits from the local market.
In the morning we will head to the airport and from there we will fly to Lima. Depending on the kind of tickets part of the participants will change plans to go to Europe and the rest will take off to the city and find accommodations in a hotel. Ahead of us is a long distance flight to Russia and perpetual reminiscence of the unforgettable memory of the trip to the virgin forests of the Amazon River basin.
Participants: 2 experienced instructors will take part in the expedition; a large number of people who have previously taken part in our courses or those who have a experience with similar situations is up to 8 people.
Two experienced instructors will take part in the expedition. In addition, up to 8 people will have previously taken part in our courses or have had similar experience.
-Food will be provided by the Wolfin Survival School, and will be distributed to all participants, in addition, fish, game and edible plants will be gained throughout the course of the trip.
Equipment: a rucksack, a hammock, a mosquito net, rope 5 mm thick, 15 meters long, suitable clothes and shoes, headwear with a mosquito net, a sitting mat, a camping knife, a machete, a spoon, a bowl, insect repellent, a flask or plastic bottle, a personal first aid kit, a personal care items, a compass.
Each person will need: a backpack , a hammock, a mosquito net, rope (5 mm thick, 15 meters long), suitable clothes and shoes, headwear with a mosquito net, a sitting mat, a camping knife, a machete, a spoon, a bowl, insect repellent, a flask or plastic bottle, personal first aid kit, personal hygiene items, and a compass.
Price per person: 2600 EUR
This price includes:
— instructor’s services
- Canoe rent
- Flights from Lima to Ikitos and back to Lima
- Tickets via motor vessel from Ikitos to Pakaya and then to Samaria National Park-Ikitos;
- Accommodation in a hotel in Ikitos
This price does not include the plane tickets from Moscow to Lima and back to Moscow, and any other expenses not mentioned in the section “price includes”.
To book this expedition, please go to the order page in the section “Expeditions” or call us at +7 495 643 3474.
Closest dates available
Time span: from 08.12.2012-08.29.2012
Location: Department Ikitos, Peru
Price per person: 105500 RUR