Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Piranhas and Pink Dolphins

Trip date: December 2018

Our days on onboard the Cattleya would consist of breakfast in the dining room before heading out for either a ride in the skif along the shores to spot wildlife, or a jungle hike.

Then back on the boat, lunch was a daily 3-course meal and for the most part we all thought the food was very good. Although we had sent the booking company a note prior to our trip, letting them know that we would be drinking wine and/or beer with our meals, our bartender seemed unprepared at times.

In the afternoons we would relax and take a siesta before heading back out on the skif in the early evenings to scout for more wildlife. Happy hour, dinner, and rounds of Exploding Kittens with cocktails capped off our evenings. We specifically had to reign our naturalist Hilde in from trying to pack too much into our days as we wanted a very relaxing itinerary.

On our 2nd day after lunch there was a huge storm that made its way up the river and past us. It was exciting as the skies became dark, the rain came down hard, and there was even some thunder and lightning!

Caitlin and I tried to sit up on the observation deck to watch but the rain was coming in sideways and soon we were soaked. I headed to my room to watch the storm from my cozy bed with my book.

When I woke up from my nap, the clouds had brightened up and the rain had stopped. It was a beautiful evening for our skif cruise. As this was the rainy season, we would get a spot of rain, followed by sunshine pretty much every day.

We went up a little tributary, which during the dry season would have been all ground, and past a village where boys were repairing a dugout canoe. A fire smoked behind them as the villagers produced charcoal. The sounds of many different birds surrounded us and Hilde taught us to recognize the difference between the parrots and the macaws flying overhead (tail shape). We spotted lots of parakeets, kingfishers, swallows, and kissadees.

We continued upstream stopping to use the binoculars to look more closely at birds and bats that were perched in and on the trees. And then we maneuvered near the mudbank so Hilde and the skif captain Roy could teach us how to fish for piranha! The men took out sticks, tied a length of fishing wire to each, and attached a hook. Raw chicken was threaded on and then the lines were dropped into the river.

It didn't take long for the small but mighty fish to bite! Thibault, Forest and I tried also but couldn't quite get the hang of hooking them. We could all feel them having chicken dinner though! We even brought one of the fish home and Chef Francisco cooked it up for us to try!

Back on board we had our Happy Hour of pisco sours before dinner. It was lovely watching the sunset on the river and watching the sporadic vessel pass by. Unlike when we cruised on the Mekong, these rivers were much less trafficked. And during the evenings, only the overnight river taxis were spotted.

We were up very early the next day and boarded our skif at 6am to try to spot animals before the heat of the morning. Immediately as we motored away from the Cattleya we spotted grey river dolphins jumping around. A bit further we spotted a very small troop of monkeys, but they were shy and retreated into the dense jungle as soon as they saw us.  Then high up and pretty far inland, Hilde spotted a sloth. His silhouette looked like a small person in a hammock. Lucky we had binoculars!
There were more birds, including egrets, parrots, jacanda, and a beautiful black-collared hawk that we sat and watched for a quite a while. We also came upon a local villager checking his fish nets. He held up his catch for us, which were some crazy prehistoric looking fish!

After breakfast back on the boat we cruised up the river a bit until we reached another small tributary. Where the two rivers met looked like oil and water!

The confluence here also created a bit of wake and all of a sudden we saw pink dolphins playing in it! The captain moored the Cattleya and we all went to the observation deck and hung out watching them. They are quick and evaded all my photos but you can see a picture of them here. They have a strange almost albino look to them!

Once the crew realized that the pod was planning on sticking around, they offered to put the kayaks in for us so we could paddle around with them!
So fun! They continued playing, sneaking up behind and beside us, jumping right when one of us would turn around! Really an awesome experience!

After a while we came back onboard and our boat set sail for the afternoon. We had a lovely lunch and Ronnie had set up quite the table-scape. Everything was going well until we requested wine with lunch and were told we were out. On day 3! And it's not like there is a 7-11 on the corner.

Luckily we had brought a couple of beers with us from Iquitos, as well as some gin, and champagne. After lunch we sat up on the observation deck, drinking cold beers, and watching the life of the Marañón River as we headed towards are mooring place for the night, at the mouth of the Amazon River. Parts of these rivers are so wide, and there are countless little tributaries.
Later that afternoon, after my siesta, I saw that we were moored and when I looked out my window I had a little grey dolphin jumping over and over and over! He was there for hours!
We got ready for our evening excursion, to the confluence of the Amazon River!

All Amazon rainforest photos here.

Other posts from this trip:
24 Hours Miami
Lima City of Kings
Welcome to the Jungle
Ringing in 2019 in the Amazon
The Sacred Valley of the Incas
Discovering Machu Picchu
Dining at 11700 Feet
Cusco Daytrip
Return to Lima

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