Experience the Peruvian Amazon at Night

A trip to the the Peruvian Amazon is a trip of quiet riverboat luxury, adventure, and unexpectedly delightful sights and sounds. This author traveled with OverseasAdventure Travel on their Amazon River Cruise and Rainforest trip in July of 2014. As with any OAT trip, there are always wonderful surprises lurking. On this trip, it was at the end of a long day aboard a skiff when we took a night time excursion into the depths of an Amazon tributary in the Pacaya-Simiria National Reserve.

The Pacaya-Simiria National Reserve is one of the largest protected reserves in the Amazon and the second largest in Peru. The area covers over 20,000 km or over 127,000 miles. Only two percent of it has been impacted by deforestation, and it is rich in wild life, vegetation, and a fairly sizable indigenous population. This reserve is easy to reach by boat from the small town of Iquitos, where we began our journey after the flight from Lima.

The first thing that delighted all of us in the evening’s adventure were the spectacular sunsets, but that was not our only surprise. We were traveling with two naturalists who were quick to point every creature out to us using small pinpoint flashlights. As the sun set even further and evening was upon us, our guides skillfully navigated us into a small tributary where we were close to the sights and sounds of the nocturnal animals. We even encountered a family of Capybaras, a member of the guinea pig family. All nocturnal animals that live in the rainforest close to water such as flooded grasslands, lowland forests and marshes were ours to see that night. They just needed to be as curious about us as we were about them.

After our naturalist created a considerable amount of excitement by jumping out of the skiff to grab a wild cayman and bring it back on the boat, we all settled back down. Our trip leader took out his small flashlight and pointed out the Southern Hemisphere constellations we would not be able to see at home like the Southern Cross. Then he did something absolutely magical and otherwise extraordinary. He asked us to just sit quietly, close our eyes, and listen to the sounds of the rainforest symphony. It had, after all, been performing for us all night, but we had been too excited to listen to the music. The frogs, toads, katydids, crickets, and the rest of the band played their natural nocturnal music for us under the lights of the Southern Cross, in an experience that could only be had in Peru and the wilds of the Amazon. It was truly an encounter with nature that every traveler with a curiosity for eco-tourism should experience.

Many people feel they can they live their entire lives and never spend six nights on a small Amazon riverboat. Many never want to. But if you love to travel and have new experiences, it is precisely for this reason that you should look into taking this trip. Very often, the destinations and experiences that would never occur to you if left to own devices, are the ones that provide the most lingering memories.

Photo: Jann Segal

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