Browsing: Amazon


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Rafting the Amazon River. From left, Nathan, Adam, Andreas and Isis.

Nathan Paluck

Last year, three friends and I built a wooden raft and paddled 200 kilometers down the Amazon River in Peru. The Amazon River Raft Race. The only one of its kind in the world. It was one of the funnest things I’ve ever done. It was also, at times, similar to mild torture.

Adam, Andreas, Isis and I took off at the start of the Amazon River in the small town of Nauta with 40 other teams. Three days and 20 hours of raft time later, we arrived to the finish line in Iquitos, Peru’s largest jungle city. We were exhausted but happy.

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Achiles Amasifuen, right, is the man to call for a adventurous tour of Peru’s Amazon forest. All photos courtesy of Matthew Barker, shown on the left.

By Matthew Barker

As Peru continues its slow but steady transition from a low budget backpacker’s paradise towards the world of tour packages and luxury hotels, options for escaping the Gringo Trail into the Amazonian wilderness are fast diminishing.

Most visitors these days opt for a stay in one of the countless lodges in the tamed and controlled jungle surrounding Iquitos in the north and Puerto Maldonado to the south. The Manu reserve is still a genuine wilderness, but one that sees increasing numbers of travelers each year.

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A traveler catches a Peacock Bass on Peru’s Amazon River. (All photos courtesy of Ciro Moron)

By Douglass G. Norvell

“Good things just seem to happen by accident,” says Ciro Moron, formerly a full time mototaxista but now known as the Amazon Fish Eagle. “One day the Hotel Acosta called me to take this professor for a City Tour, and five years later, I am working almost all the time as a fishing guide.”

In the Amazon Basin there are two distinct markets for guide services. One is to take out aficionados, or very serious anglers who come from other countries to fish for Peacock Bass and other exotic species in a once-in-a-lifetime experience. These anglers bring tons of equipment and expect to pay hundreds of dollars a day, and travel deep into the rainforest in search of virgin fishing grounds.

Ciro, however, focusses on giving the Amazon fishing trips for the recreational anglers.

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A member of Matse community in Peru’s Amazon Rainforest. (Photo by Anna Kovasna)

By Anna Kovasna

This must by far be the craziest thing I have ever done! That was my thought as, after eight hours in a dugout canoe, I climbed up an impossibly slippery riverbank under the intense scrutiny of 40 Matses Indians. After waiting through two weeks of flooded landing strips and crashing planes, I had finally arrived to Estiron, a Matses settlement on a small tributary to the Yavarí in Peru’s Amazon Rainforest.

I was there to do fieldwork for two months, and I came alone. My host and interpreter had suddenly left me at a military base the day before. In addition, the goods I had bought in Iquitos to trade for food, lodging and information was on a boat still safely anchored in Iquitos, at least a week’s travel away from me.

After a few days, just as I was starting to find my bearings after nearly being kicked out because of a rumor that I was a Petro Peru agent, the village chief woke me up at dawn and asked whether I wanted to go to a hunting camp for a week. Twenty minutes later I was on my way to a very close encounter with real life in the jungle.

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Into Manu: Peru's bounty in the Amazon
A Woolly Monkey in Peru’s Manu Biosphere. (All photos by John Meils) See slide show.

By John Meils

We smelled them on the way to the oxbow lake — a pungent, pervasive stink. Peccaries, jungle pigs, a sizeable herd. They were thrashing just out of sight on either side of the trail foraging for roots, fruit, maybe a snake. Small branches snapped wherever they went. Our guide was nervous. Earlier he told us that when threatened or surprised, peccaries will attack. En masse.

On the way back from the lake, we ran into the same troop at a different location. A big male emerged on the trail 50 feet ahead and barked at us before raising the bristled hair on his back. “He’s very angry,” said Nicolas, the guide, as we froze. Then: “Get ready to climb a tree.” I looked around. Trees in the rainforest grow fast and tall to compete for sunlight high up in the canopy; they don’t have low branches. At all. And their trunks are usually slick or protected with thorns.

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The Ahuashiyacu waterfalls is about 30 minutes from Tarapoto, Peru. (All photos by Tony Dunnell)

By Tony Dunnell

There are plenty of places to visit in and around Tarapoto. The town itself is a bit short on tourist attractions but the surrounding area is dotted with things to see and do. Tour agencies offer trips to all the main locations, as do some of the top-end Tarapoto hotels and resorts.

However, if you are feeling slightly more adventurous (and don’t want to spend too much money) then you can easily do things independently. Mototaxis can whisk you away to the nearby destinations while shared taxis travel between the more distant locations.

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Sleeping quarters on the budget boat ride through Peru's Amazon Rainforest.
Sleeping quarters on the budget boat ride through Peru’s Amazon Rainforest. (All photos by John Meils)

By John Meils

Of all the cargo on the boat from Yurimaguas to Iquitos, the least important was us. This fact began to reveal itself the moment we arrived at la boca, the port in Yurimaguas. Everyone was in a rush, moving goods, livestock and themselves in a frantic dance towards the water, which was blocked from view by a domino line of trailers perched atop a hill. As I tried to catch a glimpse through them, the dirt road into the port pinched to an end next to a string of wood-plank buildings on stilts, depositing us into the chaos.

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doing ayahuasca in peru
John Meils traveled to Peru’s rainforest to try ayahuasca, called la experiencia. (Photos courtesy John Meils, Illustration by Peter Colapietro)

By John Meils

I was torn about telling my girlfriend before I left. She would worry, accuse me of being reckless or worse, a fiend. I was traveling alone to Tarapoto from Lima then onto to Yurimaguas to catch a lancha, a river barge, to Iquitos. At some point before I got on the boat, I wanted to take ayahuasca, a jungle hallucinogenic made by curanderos (shaman-healers) in Peru, Colombia and Brazil for perhaps 3,000 years.

Ayahuasca is not for the timid. I learned that before I left. A quick Google search netted plenty about la experienca. For some it was beautiful, a three-to-five hour journey of almost edible hallucinations, the plant-based medicina facilitating a pleasant conduit from the subconscious to the conscious. Others, however, told of harrowing mental excursions laced with terrifying and diabolic images drawn from the depths of their minds, some that tested the very boundaries of their courage. The surprising part was that, in both cases, almost everyone thought the ride was worth it.

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Twenty teams are signed up to raft 112 miles down Peru’s Amazon River in handmade balsa rafts. The three-day race starts on Sept. 23 in Nauta and ends in the city of Iquitos.

Teams include Three Spry Chicks and Grandma from the U.S., Crazy Cuys from Australia and Peru, and Ancash Ladies Do it Better from Peru and the U.S. There’s still time to join: Get in contact with Linda Flynn:, and see information on the race’s Facebook page and blog.

Below is a three-part video of last year’s race. (It’s in Spanish, with some interviews in English.) When asked if there’s competition during the race, one participant answers "queremos sobrevivir." We want to survive.

Amazon Raft Race 2009, Part One


See parts two and three below.

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Published in El Comercio
Adapted from Spanish by Diana Schwalb

Visit the charming wilds of Tarapoto, Peru
Puerto Palmeras resort hotel in Tarapoto.

The beautiful eastern Peruvian jungle awaits you with its exotic beauty and the pleasant warmth of its people. This heavenly place is one of the few places in the Amazon that is also recommended in the rainy season.

Only a few minutes from the city, you will find yourself submerged into nature. Pack strong bug repellent, plenty of fluids, a cap, a coat for the rain and join us in this great adventure.

Into the Wild
Two hours from Tarapoto, exiting at Marginal Sur road and driving on a dirt road for an hour, you will find the hotel Puma Rinri.

This lodge, located on the banks of the Huallaga River, is on 65 hectares of agricultural land and has capacity for 30 people, who could be distributed in two four room cabins.

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