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Juan Luis and pelejo (Photo: Juan Luis Tord)
Endless Jungle - Pacaya Samiria

As soon as we got down the airplane that brought us from Lima, we could feel the sticky heat that saturates the lower jungle of Iquitos. Arriving to this place was like entering mystery and adventure. To avoid waiting time we took a hydroplane to fly to the biggest national reserve in Peru: Pacaya Samiria.

We had great expectations about this adventure; we were arriving to a magical world lost in time. The landscape seen from the air was marvelous; we could see the Marañón and Ucayali Rivers. They looked like snakes creeping by the Amazon jungle. We landed on a "cocha" (lagoon) at the beginning of the Pacaya River. We felt like being alone in a wild world.

We moved our photographic equipment to the boat that received us. It came from the station Santa Cruz from INRENA. By the way, it was easy to watch beautiful species of birds such as white herons (Egretta Alba), some "shanshos" (Opisthocomus Hoazin), woodpeckers, "martín pescador" and many others. We arrived to the biological station and went out to explore the jungle. We could enjoy the experience of getting lost in the biggest trees that silently cover the reserve. Some species of trees that were easy to recognize were "lupuna" (Ceiba Mauna), "cumala" (Virola Peruviana), palms and "moena" (Necpandia Sp.) . The great variety of plants was impressing and complex.

We found some pink and grey dolphins (Inia Geoffroyensis). They quickly submerge and the small ones jumped on the water, making it easy to appreciate them. At night we decided to get aboard a catamaran to visit where the caimans (Caiman Sclerops) and lizards live. We could only see a pair of orange eyes, but as soon as we got closer we could see their very big bodies. They were one and a half to four meters length and their tails had strength worth a lot of respect. So we decided not to get too close to them.

The sunrise is splendid and colorful. Under our lodge we could observe the "taricaya" (Podocnemis Unipilis) and "charapa"  (Platemyso Platycephala) turtles, species that are in danger of extinction. New born, they are 5 cm long and rest on the sand and water.

As we continued our adventure, we followed the Pacaya River getting ready to take pictures, discovering new wonderful spots where endless species live. Many monkeys jumped over the treetops, it is easy to see "choros" (Logothrix Lagothricha), "maquisapas"  and "cotomonos" (Alouatta Seniculus), different species of the Peruvian jungle.

We were dazzled at sunset observing the beauty of the place: looking the reflection of the trees on the river, the orange clouds filling the sky and the infinite horizon of the basin. At night it is easy to see the vigilant eyes of the caimans that patiently wait for their next day meal. The stars, our only company, are witnesses of these wonderful places.

The trip was intense and the dimensions of the reserve are enormous. Going from station to station we entered the Ucayali River, that in a way sets the boundaries of the reserve. It led us to the point where it converges with the Marañon River, near Nauta. When we were leaving the Ucayali River we could confirm the illegal fishing of "paiche" (Arapaima Gigas), variety of fish from the jungle considered the biggest one in the world. Due to the big extension of the reserve it is impossible for the Guards to control all the area.

When we arrived to the Marañon River we entered to the basin of the Samiria River. The trees are higher than the ones at the Pacaya. We were surprised to find the "pelejo" (Bradypus Pridactylus). It has slow movements but a very big strength. This nighttime animal look at us with its patient look, they feel lazy all day and usually sleep during the day.

The hydroplane was waiting for us at the biological station San Antonio, ready to take us back without any problem. In the way back home we, kept feeling that we are part of this common spirit: Nature.

Juan Luis Tord

See pictures of Pacaya Samiria

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