Estrella Amazonica, enjoying happy hour on the top open-air deck, and listening to our multi-talented naturalists and crew play everything from traditional Peruvian folk music to American rock Gn’ roll. (e watched the sky slowly become a collage of fiery colors before darkness set in and paved the way for stars to give us a double feature. One evening, we took the skiffs out for a ringside seat to this performance. (e were serenaded by a chorus of frogs, while fireflies and glow worms winked flirtatiously at us. Our guides and boat drivers used their beacons and spotlights to locate nocturnal wildlife. Seeing the red eyes of a caiman blaze in the darkness gave me an eerie feeling, knowing that these and other creatures in the jungle were watching our every movement.
Living quarters on the charming La Estrella Amazonica are cozy, yet comfortable for the 2 passengers and crew. In addition to staterooms, there’s a dining area, lounge bar, lecture meeting room and even a tiny workout facility. Food is served buffet style with several entrde options, including fresh fish, and plenty of delicious tropical fruit and veggies. Staff are accommodating and hospitable, making every effort to please.
They are gracious and polite, and never fail to greet you with a warm, welcoming smile. They also have a great sense of humor, which automatically sets passengers at ease.
The naturalists are not only guides extraordinaire, but musicians and storytellers. They enjoyed regaling us with Amazonian folklore, which often dealt with superstitions and myths about such creatures as the jaguar, sloth and pink dolphin. Many of the tales had morals and warnings that people in the villages continue to adhere to even today.
In the span of our week-long trip, we went a total of 0 miles on the river. (e explored several tributaries of the Amazon, as well as the famed Pacaya-samira National $eserve, one of the largest protected areas in Peru, with a size approximating Belgium. Its main purpose is to preserve ecosystems of the Omagua $egion and to promote sustainable development of local villages. The reserve’s biodiversity is immense, and the level of involvement of residents in regards to conservation is remarkable. Nearly 3,000 people live in and around the area within 20 communities. $angers work with residents to preserve this unspoiled locale, and they take their role seriously.
Throughout the journey, I kept my eye out for the elusive Mrs. Conda first name, Ana. As the days went by without a sign, I began to accept the reality that this legendary snake and I were destined not to meet. At the tail end of the trip, we went on a jungle walk, where local trackers came along to assist naturalists in finding various creatures. As we trekked through the thick foliage, lined by walking palms and massive banyans or Iavatar-likej trees with their gnarly roots and thick trunks, the intensity of color was almost blinding. After examining such creatures as bullet ants, poison dart frogs, horned toads and a red-tailed boa constrictor, we heard a sudden shout. Mrs. Conda had been found, exactly where expected F on the edge of a boggy swamp, wellcamouflaged in her eco-green skin. The tracker picked up the snake and held it out to us for a good look, keeping his hands and body away from its fangs, while it struggled mightily and forcefully to be released. Though the anaconda is not venomous, it is incredibly powerful and employs constriction to subdue its prey. (e noted that the snake’s girth was large some grow as big around as a grown man , but that it was not very long in size, and one of the naturalists commented that it was probably an immature anaconda.
I was ecstatic nevertheless with this younger version, a Miss Conda, if you like F mission accomplished
If you go
There are a number of companies that offer riverboat trips in the Peruvian Amazon. I opted to go with International Expeditions, due to its stellar reputation in the industry. It is a pioneer in ecotourism and is known as a world leader in smallgroup nature travel, with a host of award-winning experiences and unique itineraries to far-flung destinations. I was also attracted to the company because it has a long history of supporting conservation projects across the globe. In the Amazon, for example, it helps to fund ongoing conservation efforts, such as building water-treatment plants in villages, funding the Amazon Medical Clinic and developing Las Malvinas 'rban
arden Project in Iquitos, Peru.
or more information about International Expeditions