We are on our way to the Peruvian Amazon! As we fly over the Andes I feel turbulence and the ‘fasten seatbelt’ light comes on. I look out of the window and see lightening bolts. It is quite an incredible sight. As we pass the storm I think about the book I have just bought, When I Fell From the Sky, and am relieved that I have not yet started to read it as I am pretty sure this is how the story began.
We arrive in Iquitos and are greeted by the naturalist guides from Aqua Amazon river cruise, which will be our home for seven days. We follow our guide, Daniel, to a minibus and set off for the port. Driving through the streets of Iquitos is a hair-raising journey. Motorbikes and cars weave in and out of the lanes and the drivers do not seem to pay very much attention to the roads at all. Our guide chats to us and tells us a bit about the history of Iquitos, semi-distracting me from the mayhem on the roads.
We arrive safely at the Aqua Amazon and are shown to our cabins. She is a 40 metre long river boat that was build for Aqua Expeditions by Peruvian architect, Jordi Puig, to allow visitors to explore the Amazon in the utmost comfort.
After a safety briefing we meet the crew, have dinner and retire to our rooms for an early night, in preparation for the exciting week ahead of us. Overnight we will travel to the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve, around 115 kilometres south-west of Iquitos.
The Pacaya Samiria Reserve is the largest reserve in Peru, the second largest in the Amazon region and the fourth largest in South America. It is a triangular shaped area between the Marañón and Ucayali rivers. It is the intersection of these rivers that is known as the birthplace of the Amazon. The Pacaya Samiria Reserve has a population of around 100,000 people in small villages, mostly on the fringes of the reserve. The population is mostly made up of ‘ribereños’, those who have descended from a mixed heritage and are dedicated to the sustainable exploitation of the natural resources, such as fishing, agriculture and hunting.
As we set sail I drift off to sleep and dream of the adventures that lie ahead.