During our week together exploring the Upper Amazon, we had the chance to meet local fishermen and park rangers stationed at remote checkpoints of the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve. We pulled over next to the small wooden boats powered by two-stroke engines that the locals call peque-peques to see their catch of armored catfish, piranhas or boquichicos. We learned about traditions and other cultural aspects of the everyday life from our local Peruvian guides Jorge, Javier and Ericson, who were born and raised in the area. But this morning we had the chance to visit a whole community called Amazonas; located near the confluence between the Marañón and the Ucayali rivers.

Amazonas is a small settlement of about 200 people of Kukcama-Kukamilla origin. Thanks to the efforts of the Peruvian government, the townspeople have been vaccinated against Covid-19 and even got their boosters. We had a great time visiting. We learned how sugar cane juice is made using a wooden press, which some of us tried operating. The juice helps fuel the fishermen and farmers during their busy day. Invited into a local house, we met some local women who showed us different kinds of fish they frequently eat. They also told us about a local non-governmental organization, Minga-Perú, which helps them farm fish and make handicrafts, among other activities. We happily visited their little market and bought many beautiful creations made with chambira palm fibers and local wood. It was great to experience life in a real Amazonian community!

After visiting the village, we arrived at the confluence of the two rivers, the very spot where the mighty waterway becomes known as Amazonas. We made a toast to celebrate passing through the world’s biggest river and many pictures were taken.

In the afternoon, we boarded our skiffs again to explore a small tributary called Nauta Caño (remember, caño is the local name for a small river). We got the chance to see great black hawks and black-collared hawks, wattled jacanas, and even the Amazon kingfisher and pygmy kingfishers. Jumping around the trees, a troop of squirrel monkeys added a touch of excitement, while a chorus of frog calls provided a very pleasant background sound effect. A beautiful way to end our last full day together exploring one of the greatest places on earth, the amazing Amazon rainforest.

IMAGE: Kukama kids with large black caiman skull at Amazonas village. (Photo by Carlos Navarro)