We’d set out from the port at Iquitos, Peru at sundown the night time earlier than, assembly our naturalist guides, getting a fast security briefing, and having fun with a refreshing Pisco Bitter in our welcome toast.
This morning we have been up by 6AM, too enthusiastic about our Amazon River piranha fishing journey scheduled for later within the day to sleep-in.
All of us early birds have been handled to thrilling to see animals within the amazon river together with egrets and pink dolphins earlier than we’d even had our first cup of espresso.
The avid birdwatchers on board have been blessed with one other spectacular sighting earlier than the solar had totally risen.
Into the Amazon Rainforest in Peru
The colourful fella pictured beneath is a Capped Heron, which is discovered in lots of components of Central America and South America.
The species is hanging thanks the good blue and pink on its beak, brilliant yellow feathers, and people lengthy skinny plumes that made it appear like a extra refined distant cousin to Africa’s famed Secretary Chicken.
In what turned a day by day routine, after breakfast we loaded up our gear into smaller skiffs and bid farewell to the mom ship, which might be our residence away from residence for the following week.
The steel-hulled ship was exactly what I’d imagined in my fantasies about what an Amazon River cruise is perhaps like.
It supplied 12 spacious passenger rooms, an incredible open bar/lounge space, an air-conditioned eating room, and a candy little solar deck on prime that was good for soaking within the surrounding view.
Nevertheless it was the skiffs by which we’d do most of our exploring, venturing 600 miles up and down the Peruvian Amazon and its numerous tributaries.
READ MORE: 25 Lovely Birds within the Amazon Rainforest
Our First Peru Rainforest Tour
It didn’t take lengthy for us to get a gander at a few of the superb Peruvian Amazon jungle animals.
Within the case of this beautiful pink-toed tarantula, the Amazon wildlife got here proper to us!
As our skiff was motoring alongside, the little fella immediately emerged from his hidey-hole close to the entrance of the boat, to the delight of just about everybody.
One of many issues that struck us most about our time within the Amazon was the challenges the Ribereños (“river individuals”) confronted of their day by day lives.
Residing on a biodiversity-rich floodplain that repeatedly undergoes drastic environmental change (see: flood waters that yearly rise over 40 toes) requires nice tenacity and resourcefulness, to not point out studying to reside in concord with the customarily harsh components.
We have been amazed by individuals who traveled miles daily to fish, hunt and commerce, with their solely mode of transport a dugout canoe customary from large logs and a single paddle.
The place was really a bird-lover’s dream, from grey-headed kites and longneck terns to varied egrets and the gorgeous black collared hawk.
In all, we noticed over 200 totally different hen species throughout our week in Peru.
After a much-needed afternoon siesta, we loaded again onto the skiffs for our first trek into one of many Amazon’s many tributaries, the Yarapa River.
At this level, we started to comprehend how removed from “civilization” we’d gone.
There have been no different industrial boats to be discovered; solely the occasional fisherman in a dugout canoe. And the river‘s water was as nonetheless and reflective as mirrored glass.
Amazon River Piranha Fishing
Later that night time our naturalist information, Usiel, tied the skiff to an amazingly colourful pink-and-green tree for our night journey in Amazon River piranha fishing.
What do piranhas eat? We have been shocked to study that the best Piranha bait is… rooster!
The method of piranha fishing could be very easy. You skewer a chunk of uncooked rooster onto a hooked line hooked up to a skinny pole (no reel concerned), then await the toothy suckers to chew.
Our new good friend Cindy shortly proved a piranha fishing professional, pulling in 5 purple stomach piranha in pretty speedy succession.
Mary and I solely caught two to a few every however have been thrilled by the expertise.
It included a lot of close to misses and some piranha flopping across the boat after they managed to wiggle off the hooks.
Right here, Usiel offers us a closeup have a look at the sharp piranha enamel which have earned the small fish such a fearsome repute.
READ MORE: Exploring the Peruvian Amazon Jungle
How Huge do Piranhas Get?
Discovered all through the Peruvian Amazon basin and different components of South America, these omnivores common 5.5 to 10.25 inches in size, although specimens as much as 17 inches have been reported.
Their mythological repute as ferocious predators who hunt in colleges is considerably unfounded.
Analysis has confirmed them to be timid opportunists who faculty, not with the intention to hunt, however for defense from predators akin to caimans and dolphins.
However, as we noticed from those we caught, they are going to resort to cannibalism if the chance arises.
In the long run, our group caught dozens of piranhas in an hour.
Their reddish-orange bellies made them as stunning as they’re harmful: Many an area fisherman (who catch them for subsistence) bears the scars of piranha teen when dealing with the native fish.
Fortuitously, we escaped unscathed.
What Does Piranha Style Like?
That night time we have been handled to an sudden shock that turned our favourite nightly ritual.
Each night at 6:30, our naturalist guides Usiel (drums) and Johnny Balarezo Malatesta (maracas) would be a part of members of the ship’s crew to type a band.
In a operating joke, the identify of the band modified each night time to mirror one thing that had occurred that day.
The music they performed veered from conventional Peruvian folks music to American rock ‘n’ roll performed on Peruvian devices akin to pan flute and charango.
Instantly afterward, they rang the bell calling us to dinner. Everybody received excited as bar/kitchen supervisor Charlie (a.ok.a. Carlito) introduced out a platter stacked with our fried piranha that we caught earlier that day.
So what does piranha style like? Actually, piranha meat tastes similar to every other mild, flaky, white fish, albeit barely bony total.
However the tender bits of meat have been moist and succulent, and maybe took on an added little bit of tastiness as a result of we knew we’d labored for our supper.
READ MORE: 70 Cool & Bizarre Animals Across the World
It was powerful to return to our room on the finish of the night time after a day stuffed with enjoyable and pleasure.
However after the solar went down and the Amazon’s notoriously nasty bugs got here out (extra on that later), we welcomed the cooling blast of air-con and the consolation of our cozy beds.
We had been up for over 14 hours at that time, and we knew we’d should be up brilliant and early for day 2 of our unimaginable journey within the Amazon in Peru.