Amazon River Cruise Feb 16—26, 2017

Posted by David Ascanio


David Ascanio

David Ascanio, a Venezuelan birder and naturalist, has spent 30+ years guiding birding tours throughout his native country, Colombia, Costa Rica, Panama, the Amazon River, ...

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If you put together great cloud formations, impenetrable green vegetation, loud macaws either perched or flying, primates, huge rivers, pink dolphins, amazing downpours, a rich number of raptors, and the wonderful event of bird migration, you’ll have a complete picture of the Amazon as a biome. Add to this picture a never-ending mix of cultures, from Amerindian to African and Europeans, and you’ll get a holistic view. Yes, I am sure that you came to the Amazon River thinking about an endangered biome, and that’s true indeed. But I am sure that by the end of our tour you will have learned so much about other topics less publicized but equally important that you will have a greater understanding of the Amazon’s complexity.

Blue-crowned Manakin

Blue-crowned Manakin— Photo: David Ascanio


Our Amazon cruise covered more than the Amazon itself. Our first full day found us in the rich waters of the Pacific Ocean, on the coast of Lima. A visit to the Pantanos de Villa, a marsh currently designated a Ramsar site, gave us superb views of the Many-colored Rush-Tyrant and the secretive Wren-like Rushbird. Close to the beach we found a nesting pair of Peruvian Thick-Knees and witnessed hundreds (if not thousands) of Black Skimmers in a wetland contiguous to the ocean. These skimmers came from the Amazon basin. They took flight across the Andes and escaped from the high water of the mighty river. The day continued with a short but very productive boat trip around the bay of Pucusana. This picturesque town is home for dozens of fishermen who round up about two tons of fish per day, mostly to be exported to Japan. Here, we took a couple of boats and went around an island where we enjoyed great views of Humboldt Penguin, South American Sea Lion, hundreds of Peruvian Boobies, dozens of cormorants, and the queen of the bay, the Inca Tern.

After a memorable full day on the coast of Perú near Lima, we took a flight across the Andes to the bustling city of Iquitos. A visit to the Belém market gave us the opportunity to learn about the amazing products the Amazon can offer, from palm nuts to barks of trees, unknown fruits with unique tastes, fishes of all kinds, and an endless river of people, either selling or buying products. Lunch was in a restaurant along the promenade, and then we were driven to the point where we embarked the ship. With the breeze blowing in our faces and Large-billed Terns flying along with us, we entered the Amazon River, and from the upper deck we found ourselves calling birds in all directions.

Read David’s full report in his Field List.