It’s kind of funny to think - we go on vacation and we get up even earlier than we do on a regular day of work. However, I guess that comes with the territory of going to the rainforest for vacation. We started our day with a 6 am fishing trip. Manuel (our guide) took us by motorboat to an oxbow lake. The boat ride was about 45 minutes up the Tahuayo River. We took a narrow path through the jungle by boat to reach the lake. We came upon a fallen tree in the middle of the stream blocking our boat path, so Manuel used his machete to chop the tree (about 6 inches in diameter) in half and then moved both pieces of the tree from the riverbed to the bank.
We arrived at the lake around 7 am and fished there until 10 am. By that point, even though we had liberally applied sun screen, we felt a little raw and white underneath the forest sun. We ate breakfast on the boat a little after 8am. The breakfast consisted of soft boiled eggs and PB & Js! It might not sound like much, however the childhood comfort food of PB & J sandwiches in the humid rainforest was a welcome site to us both.
We fished all morning and Manuel caught a fish on his first try — a wood fish. It was cylindrical and about 5 inches long. It had been many years since either of us had fished, so Manuel retaught us how to use the fishing rod and reel. Though it started out with with a lot of untangling of lines, eventually we started reeling in our catch, well…for the most part. There might have been a few tangled webs, but their occurrence decreased throughout the morning as we became more efficient with our poles. Ashley’s grandfather taught her to fish when she was little and she knew that her grandfather would be very proud to know she had caught a bass in the Amazon.
Chris was the first of us to catch a fish — and it was a beautiful peacock bass with an “eye” on the tail. Ashley also caught two fish, both peacock basses. Manuel caught several more fish including some barracuda fish that he threw back. Manuel kept two of the peacock bass for us and sent the rest with his family, including his nephew, mom, and dad who showed up at the lake in their canoes to fish in the secret family fishing spot.
After three hours of fishing in the open lake under the Amazonian sun, we were ready to head back. Chris and Ashley left the lake with the intention of going straight back to the lodge, but Manuel had another fishing spot for us to check out and stopped again at a small still section off the river and fished for another 20 minutes or so. But then we went “home” and ending the morning with a an ever-growing list of wildlife we saw in the Amazon. This morning’s sightings included the Black collared hawk, grey ani, ringed kingfisher, great white egret, yellow tailed caracara, and many beautiful, brightly colored butterflies. Manuel wasn’t as into butterflies as we were so when we asked him to tell us the specific species name his response was “a butterfly.” Back at the lodge, we looked through the butterfly books in the lodge “library” to identify as many species as we could. One of our favorites was the Morpho — a large, vibrant blue butterfly.
In the afternoon, we went on a 1 hour boat ride to a different section of the forest. Once there, we hiked for about an hour to the lake of caimans. The hike started off rather even keeled, that is until we went off the main path to a more dense trail requiring our new guide, Jorge, to use his machete as we walked. Within about 20 minutes, we reached a much muddier section that required hiking/wading through deep puddles of water. Ashley’s boots were short and a little too large due to the available sizes they had the lodge. These short, too big boots made for a very intense 2 mile hike, requiring our kind guide Jorge to pull Ashley out of the “miry clay”. He even went “fishing” for her submerged boots that she left in the mud trying to step free. Let’s just say she was waterlogged by the time we got to the lake. Chris definitely had his own issues but managed to make it out dry with better fitting boots. Once we got to the lake, we were able to spot two caimans as well a cormorant and rufescent tiger heron. We hoped to see more, but our favorite Russian co-travelers frightened the rest of the wildlife away and a storm was quickly approaching.
On our way back from the lake, Jorge made a walking stick for Ashley which helped with her balance and kept her out of the mud. We rushed back due to the impending storm front coming over the Amazonian horizon. It was a race to the finish, as any additional water would have made the water on the trail deeper. We made it to our canoe just in time for a torrential downpour. Thankfully, we had some amazing ponchos that kept us relatively dry for the boat ride back to the lodge.
For dinner, Manuel fried our peacock bass in addition to the rest of the food. It was a very delectable white, tender fish. Not to mention we were able to check catching a fish in the Amazon off our bucket list.
After dinner, we took a nighttime boat ride just a little upstream to listen to the sounds of the Peruvian forest after dark. On our excursion, we saw an Amazon whippoorwill, night hawk, and yellow speckled caiman. At one point, we got up close and personal to a meter long caiman. We sat within inches of the caiman for a couple minutes with the boat off shortly followed by turning off our flashlights! We heard the most beautiful frog symphony in the dark of the forest, yet we could not get over the fact that we were sitting in the middle of the jungle next to this caiman. We were once again reminded that when you seek adventure, you can’t complain when adventure is what is delivered. We asked for it, so we can only blame ourselves!