I’ve been to the Amazon before – several times, actually. I’ve led trips in the neo-tropics and been on more rain forest hikes than I could ever remember. So to say I thought I knew what to expect on our Great Amazon River Cruise is a bit of an understatement. But, wow – was I ever wrong!
My previous experiences in tropical rain forests have honestly paled in comparison to what I experienced. Traveling far up the Amazon River, beyond its headwaters in fact, I saw landscapes I didn’t know existed, encountered wildlife that completely surprised me, and learned more than I ever thought I could. Throw in a world-class Natural Habitat Adventures Expedition Leader, charismatic and knowledgeable local naturalist guides, and representatives from the World Wildlife Fund, and this adventure truly blew my expectations out of the water.
Pacaya-Samiria Reserve, between the Ucayali and Marañon rivers that converge to form the headwaters of the Amazon, is the size of Switzerland. Here, mirrored lakes, flooded forests and swampy wetlands revealed to me a rain forest more alive than I ever imagined. We recorded more than 130 bird species, saw eight different primate species, swam with river dolphins, and floated silently under a light-pollution-free starry sky. The biodiversity we saw and the intimacy of our encounters with nature sincerely left me feeling overwhelmed with passion for the natural world. There is no place like the vastness of the Amazon to contemplate our place in this domain, and feel the importance of conserving a treasure like this.
Never again will I go into an adventure thinking I know what to expect. There will always be more to discover, and there are never-ending adventures to pursue.
This guest post was written by Jordy Oleson, Adventure Specialist at Natural Habitat Adventures. All photos © Jordy Oleson.