Our first full day exploring the Amazon basin started early in the morning in a great way; we boarded our aluminum skiffs and went looking for wildlife alongside the Ucayali River and into a smaller tributary called Yanalpa, located inside the Pacaya-Samiria National Park. The temperature was a very comfortable 62 degrees F, a very cold morning for this region`s standards. Almost immediately we began finding lots of interesting birds, some perched on the trees while others were already flying over the water or high in the sky. Neotropical cormorants, cocoi herons, smooth-billed anis and oriole blackbirds were among the first species of a list that grew much longer in a very short time. Plumbeous kites, roadside hawks, bat falcons, yellow-headed caracaras and great black hawks were the birds of prey that we were able to find, besides one of my favorites, the ubiquitous black-collared hawk. Despite the early hour, some of them had already been successful at finding food, like the bat falcon eating a dragonfly and one of the great black hawks with a catfish that we saw. We also got the chance to see a couple of mammal species, a tree rat looking at the world from the safety of its hole and a group of saddleback tamarins. Those small and colorful monkeys, with white around their mouths, delighted us with their antics and high-pitched calls, marking the first primate species sighting of the trip. Eventually we returned to the beautiful Delfín II for breakfast and some onboard presentations and lectures while continuing our navigation upriver to our next destination.
After lunch, some adventurous souls explored another tributary called El Dorado by kayak before returning to the ship to get ready for another outing. At 4:30pm, all of us boarded our motored skiffs and went out further into El Dorado looking for wildlife, succeeding at finding big groups of the active and charismatic squirrel monkeys and a band of the much larger red howler monkey. We enjoyed a beautiful sunset there and waited a bit to start making our back in the dark, using spotlights searching for nocturnal creatures. We were able to find and get close to numerous spectacled caimans, a few black caimans, and even a solitary capybara – the world’s biggest rodent – was spotted while munching some vegetation on the shoreline. Fish-eating bats, pauraques, and other night animals made it a truly special end to our wonderful first full day exploring Amazonia.