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AMAZONIA, the region drained by the Amazon River and its more than 1000 tributaries, is approximately the size of the Continental United States. The Amazon basin contains the worlds largest tropical rainforest which supports the most diverse array of life found in the world. Amazon forest typically contain 1500 species of flowering plants, 125 species of mammal, 400 of bird, 100 of reptile, 60 of amphibian, 150 of butterfly, and thousands of insects, in an 4 square mile area. Designed for the adventure traveler that is looking for an in depth learning experience and a chance observe the Amazonia fauna and flora, this trip is the ideal introduction to the rainforest.
Explornapo Camp, located 2 days journey along the Amazon and Napo rivers, is a privately held ecological reserve. This is an ideal area to observe the rich diversity of the forest. Daily trips into the jungle led by a local naturalist introduce you to the sites and sounds of the tropical forest, preparing you for the trips highlight - an overnight trip to the ACEER Research facility located just a short walk from the largest canopy walkway in the world. Designed for safe and easy access to the unexplored upper levels of the jungle, this walkway system provides excellent views out over the forest and the chance to see levels of the jungle that usually go unseen. Proceeds contribute to local conservation efforts *.
DAY 01 (SAT): MIAMI / IQUITOS, PERU
We’ll arrive to the city Iquitos, located on the banks of the Amazon River. After being met by our staff at the airport, we’ll transfer to the nearby Amazonas Hotel (or similar) for the night.
DAY 02 (SUN) IQUITOS / EXPLORAMA LODGE
After breakfast we’ll meet our local guide and drive through the city to the boat docks. Here we will board a typical, thatch-roofed motorized canoe (45 feet long) locally termed Pamacari for the 2-3 hour (50 mile) journey down the Amazon to one of its smaller tributaries, the Yanamono. This is where Explorama Lodge is located. Situated in secondary and primary forest, the lodge was built in the local architectural style from materials found nearby. With kerosene lanterns lighting the way at night to palm thatched sleeping rooms and shared shower and toilet facilities, Explorama provides comfortable transition into the tropical environment of the Amazon jungle. After lunch we will take our first guided nature walk on a trail that contains the worlds highest known tree species count, learning about some of the more than 2000 varieties that have been identified in this area. Brilliant, blue Morpho butterflies float along the path, or perhaps a scarlet macaw passes overhead. On our way to Urcococha Lake we might possibly see a troop of squirrel monkeys rustling through the trees. Later we will return to the lodge for dinner and the night. (CB,L,D)
DAY 03 (MON) EXPLORAMA LODGE / EXPLORNAPO CAMP
We’ll continue our down river journey this morning, passing small farms and towns built on the banks of the river, and watching the families make their way along the "river highway". We will travel down the river until we reach the confluence with the Napo River where we may have an opportunity to observe fresh water dolphins as they play in the currents where the rivers meet. At this point we will head up the Napo river to the Explornapo Camp located on the Sucusari (approximately 50 miles from the Lodge). This rustic camp was built in 1983 for those who wanted an authentic, in depth exploration of the fantastic Amazonian Rainforest while enjoying some basic comforts. Each person has his/her own mattress and mosquito netting "tent" in dormitory open sided sleeping rooms. Kerosene lanterns light the way to the latrines and there are cool water showers at night. Cooking is done by an experienced chef over an open hearth. Upon arrival to the camp we can take a guided walk through the primary forest of the Amazon Biosphere Reserve. We will see countless butterflies and even more plants, learning which are used for medicinal purposes, which are good for lumber or blowgun darts, and which leaves are woven together for thatch roofs. This evening after dinner we may take a night "excursion" in the boat, to look for caimans and other night creatures along the banks of the river. (B,L,D)
DAY 04 (TUE) EXPLORNAPO CAMP
Rising with the sun, we’ll go by boat to the "birds islands" located in the main Napo channel. This area is an area that is excellent for bird watching ( the Amazon Basin contains almost half the worlds species of birds and over 600 have been identified here). Species that we might observe include ringed king fisher, rufescent tiger heron, toucan, parakeets, macaws, oriole blackbirds, flycatchers, umbrella birds, and more! We may possibly see a harpy eagle perched high above. The harpy is the largest and strongest predatory bird. After breakfast we will take a boat to another tributary and hike inland to a lake called shimigay where we will board the smaller native style dugout canoes to go in search of the elusive hoatzin. We will also see giant Victoria Regis water lilies whose size is so great they can support the weight of a small child. This afternoon a guided walk will take us to the primary forest behind the camp. This area has remained untouched for millions of years and here we can observe a wide variety of trees and shrubs covered with epiphytes such as orchids and bromeliads. We will search for marmosets and monkeys who chatter in the trees above. This evening, after dinner we might take a guide hike through the forest to search for nocturnal creatures and listen to the sounds of the night. (B,L,D)
DAY 05 (WED): EXPLORNAPO CAMP / ACEER FACILITY
Up again with the sun, those who want to can look for birds or watch capybara swim across the river before breakfast. After breakfast, we might take a boat trip up the Sucusari River to the mestizo village of Sucusari where we will have the chance to visit the school and meet local people. This is a typical Amazon community whose inhabitants are descendants of the Orejones or Big Ears tribe. Although their lifestyle is simple, they are already influenced by modern society. There children go to school in Iquitos and some have moved back after living in the city. Following lunch at Napo camp we will take an hour walk through the virgin forest to the Amazon Center For Environmental Research (ACEER) facility. Here we can observe nesting roopendolas as well as red-rumped and yellow-rumped caciques all building or using their unique pendulum shaped nest in a tree just outside the dining room. Before sunset, we will visit for the first time the canopy walkway. Consisting of several suspension bridges (enveloped in heavy nylon mesh for safety) that connect from a series of platforms (the highest being 120 feet above the forest floor) , the walkway is a once in a lifetime opportunity to observe the fascinating upper levels of the upper canopy. It is worth the visit, if nothing more than to look out over the vast Amazon rainforest! We will return to the ACEER for dinner and the night. (B,L,D)
DAY 06 (THU) ACEER / EXPLORNAPO CAMP
A spectacular sunrise visit to the Canopy Walkway gives us a whole new perspective on the forest and its inhabitants, as we enjoy watching the activity seldom seen at this level of the forest. We might have the opportunity to see several different species of reptiles, amphibians, insects, and birds in the tops of the trees . If we are really lucky we will get to observe monkeys, marmosets or sloths more closely that are usually found higher in the trees. Those who would like a more active adventure can choose to hike about one hour to a collpa or mineral lick. This is a naturally occurring depression in the forest where water and minerals concentrate. Often a variety of wildlife such as deer, peccary, tapir, armadillo, and rodents come to drink the mineralized water. Mid-morning we will return to the Explornapo Camp following a different trail back seeing new views of the forest as we walk. Those who would like to go fishing will have the opportunity to do so. We will go by boat past the village of Taring to a special fishing spot called Yarinacocha. Here we can fish and watch the local people using their cast nets called atarraya . There are over 2000 species in the Amazon and the piranha is the most popular to catch because of its fierce reputation. As we return to camp we will have an opportunity to see more the creatures that come out after the sun has set. (B,L,D)
DAY 07 (FRI) EXPLORNAPO CAMP / EXPLORAMA LODGE
Leaving the camp this morning, we will navigate back down the fascinating Napo, keeping an eye out for sloths, and monkeys. Then we will begin back upstream to the Explorama Lodge where we will take a short hike along the Bush Master Trail to visit with the members of the Yagua tribe. Here we will see a communal house called a Cocamera. They have organized a small market for their blowguns, belts, and other hand crafted things. Trading and purchasing goods here helps the local economy as well as makes some very interesting souvenirs. This evening we will listen to Peruvian music as we celebrate the end of our journey into the heart of the Amazon . (B,L,D)
DAY 08 (SAT) EXPLORAMA LODGE / IQUITOS / MIAMI
A predawn departure by boat will allow us to enjoy one last Amazon sunrise before we arrive to Iquitos. Along the way, as the riberenos rise and start their day, we will observe the river boat buses stopping to collect passengers traveling to the city, as well as school children paddling their canoes to the main village to attend classes. In the city we may have time to go to the market before we transfer to the airport, say our farewells, and check in for our flight to the United States. (B)