DAY 1: NOVEMBER 24, 2012 - U.S./LIMA, PERU
Depart the U.S. and arrive Lima by late evening. We overnight in Lima at the Costa del Sol Ramada hotel.
DAY 2: NOVEMBER 25, 2012 - LIMA/IQUITOS/NAUTA/EMBARK
Fly to Iquitos and drive by bus to the riverside town of Nauta to embark the elegant Delfin II. With hardwood floors, linen-covered rattan sofas, wooden-slat ham¬mocks and a graceful, modern design, you will feel immediately transported once on board. (B,L,D)
DAYS 3: NOVEMBER 26, 2012 - Exploring the Pacaya-Samiria Reserve
The Pucate River is one of the three main rivers in the reserve. Never does nature seem more bountiful than here in the tropics. The wildlife and the biodiversity are tremendous, and with experienced naturalists at your side, understanding will come easier. Aboard the skiffs and kayaks we explore this black water stream, looking for parrots, macaws and perhaps monkeys, such as the monk saki with its gray and black body, naked face and long shaggy tail. You might also see the saddle-back tamarin whose high chirping notes can easily be confused with those of a flock of birds. (B,L,D)
This week we explore the hidden jewels surrounding the Pacaya-Samiria National Preserve. The reserve is bordered by two powerful rivers, the Marañon and Ucayali. The people who live along the rivers — known as ribereños — are an integral part of the reserve. Visiting them during the voyage helps us understand their importance in this remarkable region. Children will be everywhere, as fascinated with us as we are with them.
Our focus will be on explor¬ing the lagoons and “black-water” tributaries by skiff and kayak. We will follow rivers named the Yanayacu, Pucate, Pacaya, Dorado and Yanallpa. River levels dictate how far into the forest we can go and surprises can alter the best-laid plans; however, excellent alterna¬tives abound. Low river levels allow for several opportunities to take walks; while high river levels, when solid land is scarce to non-existent, are explored with skiffs that can nose their way into the most pristine corners of the reserve.
One of our visits along the Marañon River gives us access to terra firma, land that is never flooded even at the highest river levels. Here we see a different ecosystem than what exists in the flood forest or varzéa region. No matter how high the river level, a long (or short) hike inland is pos¬sible for those adventurous enough to choose this option.
There will be an opportunity to swim in the beautiful lake in the reserve’s interior. With luck, gray and pink river dolphins will be in the vicinity. All of our excur¬sions have the potential for wildlife sightings, most of them by skiff. Visit a local community where the women will display their handicrafts, many of which you may recognize from the decorations on board. (B,L,D)
DAYS 4: NOVEMBER 27, 2012 - Exploring the Pacaya-Samiria Reserve
Experience one of the principal ecosystems within the Amazon basin: terra firma. Disembark and hike to see the vegetation and wildlife, distinctly different from the seasonally flooded forests. For those not interested in hiking, it is well worth traveling up-river by skiff. We reach an important junction of the Amazon headwaters, where the Ucayali & Marañon rivers merge to form the mighty Amazon River. Visit the Sapuena Village to learn about the life of the ribereños—those who live on the riverbanks. (B,L,D)
DAYS 5: NOVEMBER 28, 2012 - Exploring the Pacaya-Samiria Reserve
Today we venture to find the giant Amazonian water lily Victoria regia. This beautiful aquatic plant grows in small lagoons known as cochas. Hike a trail with excellent bird watching, and learn about caciques and oropendolas. At the junction of the El Dorado River, look for dolphins and see abundant birdlife. Sharp eyes may find an iguana lazing in the sun and sloths hanging in the upper canopy. A watch is also kept for squirrel monkeys. We return to Delfin II after sunset in order to see nocturnal life along the river. We will be prepared with a spotlight! (B,L,D)
DAYS 6: NOVEMBER 29, 2012 - Exploring the Pacaya-Samiria Reserve
Sail further into the heart of the Pacaya-Samiria Nature Reserve. From December through May explore Atun Poza by skiff. Look for lagoon birds such as egrets, herons, jacamars, ringed kingfishers and various raptors. If the river levels are sufficiently low, a short walk to a local community will be offered. From June through November, hike through a rich ecosystem, passing through a classical tropical rain forest. Biologically, this kind of forest is probably one of the richest habitats on earth, supporting the most species of plants and animals per unit area. Our goal is to reach the giant “ceiba” or kapok tree with its immense trunk diameter. By skiff we depart for our furthest point in the journey, up the Pacaya River to Yanayacu lagoon. The waters of this lake originate in the very heart of the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve. This rain-forest wilderness is home to red howler and capuchin monkeys, three-toed sloths and numerous species of parrots. Today, with luck, we may swim in the vicinity of Amazonian pink river dolphins! (B,L,D)
DAYS 7-8: NOVEMBER 30, 2012 – DECEMBER 1, 2012 - Exploring the Pacaya-Samiria Reserve
We coninue exploring by kayak and skiff. From January through July, rivers flood and lowland forests have more than three feet of standing water at the base of trees. Flowering and fruiting coincides with this flooding and many fish, including piranhas, swim around the trees to feed on the fallen fruit (so the super-carnivore reputation of piranhas as a bloody-thirsty fish is quite exaggerated!). From July through December, search for the shorebirds that appear only at this time of year. When the river is very low, huge white sandy beaches emerge and young, sometimes temporary river islands form, creating special ecosystems favorable to sand pipers, terns and kingfishers. By skiff we stop at Puerto Miguel Village to learn about their culture, traditions and folklore. Back on board, our talented staff on Delfin II will delight you with some live music. (B,L,D)
DAY 9: DECEMBER 2, 2012 - NAUTA/DISEMBARK/IQUITOS/LIMA
After lunch, we return to Iquitos by bus. Visit the manatee rehabilitation center. Fly to Lima, where we spend the night at the Costa del Sol Ramada. (B,L)
DAY 10: DECEMBER 3, 2012 - LIMA/U.S.
After breakfast, we proceed to the airport for flights home. (B)