Travel with Portland Audubon on a once-in-a-lifetime cruise through the heart of upper Amazonia, on the largest river in the world! The Amazonian region boasts more than 120 endemic species and may be the most biologically diverse place on the planet – a true paradise. We will bird and observe wildlife in tropical forests, explore tributaries and lagoons by watercraft, and take in the Peruvian culture and history.
On our first day, we will bird along the coast of Lima, where we take the Panamerican Highway to the coastal marshes of Villa. We hope to come across various water birds such as White-cheeked Pintail, various species of gulls and terns, Yellow-hooded Blackbird, Many-colored Rush-tyrant, and others. This day will include a mid-morning arrival to the fishing village of Pucusana where we will board a small boat and bird the bay in search of Inca Tern, Red-legged Cormorant, Peruvian Pelican, and more.
We will spend the night in Peru’s capital of Lima, originally named the City of Kings. This part of the old Peru capital, complete with colonial mansions, is where the Viceroyalty lived their lavish lifestyles. We will visit the historic center of the city, the Plaza Mayor. And then the nearby San Francisco Basilica, its catacombs, and the Cathedral of Lima, all completed in the 17th century.
From Lima, we will take a flight to the Amazonian port city of Iquitos where we will spend a day birding the white-sand forest of Allpahuayo Mishana National Park. We will also visit some of the European-influenced buildings dating back to the short-lived 20th-century rubber boom and watch for birds while scanning the marshes of the Iquitos malecon (riverside walkway)
The next day we will board the La Perla Cruise Ship – a spacious floating hotel, complete with large comfortable cabins and amazing views of the river and jungle. The ship’s outdoor deck is the perfect place to watch wildlife and relax. Along the way, we will have the opportunity to explore the Amazon’s tributaries, where we may encounter colorful macaws, parrots, and caciques flying overhead, Horned Screamers rising from stream banks, and other fascinating wildlife that include the bizarre Hoatzin, Amazonian Umbrellabird, Brown-throated sloths, primates such as Squirrel Monkey and Saddle-backed Tamarins. To round our trip out we will be entertained with live music on the boat and the river cruise guides will give lectures about the origins of the Amazon and other topics.
Our boat adventure will begin up the Marañon River near the confluence of the Marañon and Ucayali rivers, where the mighty Amazon begins. We will take an excursion to search for wildlife in the communal reserve of Yanayacu de Yacapana, where we’ll likely see the biggest water plant in the world (Victoria’s Regias), plus Caiman Lizards, Brown-throated Sloths, and the beautiful Pink Dolphins. When it gets dark we’ll search for caimans, potoos, and owls.
Early mornings will bring us unforgettable sunrises on the Amazon river. We’ll take a small boat to shore to enjoy a short walk and observe the birds of the communal reserve, the Yanayacu de Yacapana. We hope to see macaws, sloths, monkeys, toucans, trogons, quetzals, and parrots among others. Later we will take an excursion to explore another tributary, where we can observe a variety of animals such as iguanas and sloths. In the afternoon, there will be a short geography lecture and a discussion about the species that we have been observing.
On another excursion, we will navigate the black waters of the Yarapa River. We will then continue sailing toward the confluence of two rivers and the mighty Amazon. Our destination is Piranha Creek, one of the first tributaries in the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve. A special highlight of the cruise will be our visit to the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve, a vast area of the Amazonian jungle and seasonally flooded forest in northeastern Peru, bordered by the Marañón and Ucayali rivers. Known as the ‘jungle of mirrors,’ it is home to hundreds of bird species, Spider Monkeys, Pink River Dolphin, and incredible jungle flora, including 22 species of orchid! The Pacaya Samiria National Reserve is a 5 million acre reserve established in 1982 and is the largest protected flooded forest in the Amazon, an area that experiences the highest water levels from December to May when 10-12” of rain falls each month. It’s the second-largest reserve in the Amazon after the Grão-Pará Ecological station in Brazil.
Another day we will head for the black water stream of San José de Zarapanga called Shiriyacu to fish for piranhas using traditional techniques. We will visit the Kukama Prado village to learn about ancient traditions and ancestral medicine. Then, we will be part of a cooking demonstration to learn about dishes of the Peruvian Amazon. In the afternoon, a boat excursion will be offered before sunset in the Amazon River, searching for caymans, frogs, tarantulas, and anacondas, all while enjoying the sounds of the forest.
After enjoying our last delicious breakfast on board the boat, we will proceed to Iquitos. We will finish this remarkable trip with a stop at the Rescue Center Amazon, where we will learn about their work and you will be able to see incredible manatees. Our adventure ends at the Iquitos Airport around noon.