Trip Report: Peruvian Amazon River Boat Tour

March 05, 2024  •  Leave a Comment

Great_black_hawk_Peru_2024_1Great_black_hawk_Peru_2024_1A great black hawk (Buteogallus urubitinga) takes off from a green stalk in the Amazon Rainforest of Peru.

Ten days in Peru, including seven in the Peruvian Amazon, could take years to review and edit the photos. Although I only had 7,639 files from this trip compared to nearly 14,000 from last year's trip, that is still a lot of images to review. I am thrilled to have more than a dozen to share with you from this past trip in late February. (Check out the slide show of photos at the end of this post.)

This annual trip through Wildside Nature Tours, where I worked as an invited photo guide, starts off in Lima, Peru. The capitol of this South American country, Lima is a city of 11 million people along the Pacific Ocean. As our group arrived at our beautiful hotel that caters to foreign travelers, some participants ventured out on a hike to start their Peruvian bird list. I didn't have an opportunity to explore Lima last year so I instead opted for a little shopping, picking up a beautiful sweater made of baby alpaca wool – and found it marked down 40%!

LimaLimaA view of the city of Lima, Peru.

Day two involved the travel to Iquitos. The largest city in the Amazon region of Peru, Iquitos is a busy city of about half a million people but offers an eye-opening perspective on how families live in this remote part of Peru where the next closest city is 200 miles away. There are no roads into Iquitos, with all travel coming in by plane or along the Amazon River. 

This is where we joined our Amazon River boat, the Amatista, the first boat to ever offer nature tours along the 4,300-mile Amazon River. 

AmatistaAmatistaThe Amatista was our boat for the Amazon River tour.

The next seven days were spent exploring the Amazon River and the tributaries that flow into the massive waterway in two skiffs – one for photographers and one for birders. We also spent time at the headwaters of the Amazon River, made by the confluence of the Ucayali and Maranon Rivers, where the depth is 250 feet deep!

Each day was very different from the next, offering opportunities to see birds of jungle, wetlands, shoreline and other habitats. In total, our group saw or heard 295 bird species plus a wide variety of reptiles, amphibians, insects and mammals. We spotted pink dolphins, saddleback tamarins, squirrel monkeys, a cayman lizard, green iguanas, three-toed sloths and so much more. Birds included cocoi herons, roadside hawks, white-winged parakeets, black-capped donacobius, orange-winged parrots, red-capped cardinals, green-backed trogon, blue and gold macaws, a night jar, yellow-headed caracara and horned screamers just to name a few. We even saw several yellow crown rats, an animal I didn't even know existed. 

Pucusana_Harbor_Peru_2024_1Pucusana_Harbor_Peru_2024_1The Pucasana Harbor is full of colorful boats for fishing, diving and bird watching south of Lima, Peru.

We went on hikes to find anacondas and dart frogs. We had lunch with a local village, enjoying their traditional, homemade meal. We had breakfast on the skiff one morning as pink dolphins swam by. We looked for birds from the shores to the canopy. And we had a night boat ride, finding a few surprises in the darkness of the Amazon jungle where the sounds of the life around you is almost deafening. 

On day eight, we had to pack up and head back to Iquitos via the town of Nauta, where we had a tour of the Manatee Center. 

Our last day of the trip was spent exploring birding hotspots south of Lima. The first was a boat ride along the coast out of the fishing town of Pucusana. The goal was to find Humboldt penguins but no luck on this trip. We did, however, spot an unusual visitor to the harbor – a few marine otters. We also enjoyed seeing South American sea lions, Peruvian boobys, Inca terns and red-legged cormorants. 

American_oystercatcher_Peru_2024_1American_oystercatcher_Peru_2024_1An American oystercatcher (Haematopus palliatus) flys across the beach at Pantanos de Beacha near Lima, Peru.

The final outing was to a beach and wetland area to spot some coastal and shore birds. This outing produced a few new birds for the list ad some great opportunities to photograph birds in flight above the waves of the Pacific Ocean. 

By the tenth day, we were pretty excited about the experiences of the previous week. One participant even mentioned she added at least 80 new birds to her life list!

Interestingly, this trip was quite different from last year's trip. We didn't see as many sloths as last year but we saw species this time that we never saw a year ago. The Amazon Rainforest is just that diverse.

If you have any interest in experiencing the beauty and diversity of this remote area, join us for our 2025 trip to the Amazon River region of Peru


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