...down the river to see what surprises the jungle had in store for us that day. Right after sunrise, after breakfast until lunchtime, then later in the evening. Each time a completely new adventure with different surprises to be revealed.
Not a bad way to begin a day...sipping my coffee and cruising through the Amazon!
Along the river, of course, you'd expect to see fish-eating birds of all sorts...
...and we certainly saw lots of different kinds of hawks,...
One morning as we set out, Ugo and Orlando fed a nearby hawk its breakfast, throwing a fish attached to a stick (to make it float) into the water near our canoe...
...and the black-collared hawk, right on cue, swooped down to grab it!
I think they've done that before.
While those water birds were everywhere, Orlando was always using his sharp, trained eyes and ears to find other wildlife.
The rattling of tree leaves almost surely means monkeys around.
I had no idea there were so many different kinds of monkeys! This one, I think, is called a monk saki monkey.
Woolly monkey...I'm pretty sure this species inspired the flying monkeys in The Wizard of Oz.
A face only a mother could love...
We were fortunate that Orlando spotted for us the smallest monkey in the world, the pygmy marmoset. Compare his size to the tree trunk and the nearby leaves.
Tiny little thing, and cute in an ugly sort of way.
Any idea what this is?
An anteater, sleeping in a tree! Not a sight one would see every day, even in the jungle.
And I have no idea how Orlando even spotted this iguana hanging out in a tree. This photo is zoomed in mightily and heavily cropped and it's still very hard to spot hiding in the foliage! I tell you, guides are amazing!
I barely had time to snap this photo of the elusive river otter...
...and a sloth...
...or two. Their spotted coats camouflages them perfectly against the tree branches.
Oh, but the gorgeous birds!
I don't remember the names for all of them, but this is a Motmot...
...and of course, this is a signature jungle bird, a toucan.
We saw several different kinds many times...often flying or too far up in the treetops to get photos.
One afternoon Orlando heard macaws and had Ugo turn the boat around and we schlepped a little ways into the jungle to see this treeful of gorgeous blue-and-yellow macaws.
What a treat!
A few times we saw pairs of scarlet macaws flying high in the sky, but were never fortunate enough to get them to pose for me.
One late afternoon, Orlando and Ugo took us piranha fishing.
Very simple equipment...a stick, string, and hook with a piece of meat.
Smack and stir the water to get their attention....
Kim caught the first piranha, a small one.
Ugo and Orlando had a little better success.
These babies have some serious teeth on them and they are attracted by blood. Both Orlando and Ugo have scars on their hands from piranha bites over the years. According to Orlando, it's perfectly safe to get into the water where piranhas are unless you have a cut or wound of some kind. I wasn't about to test his wisdom...I stayed out of the Amazon waters....
Those very piranha ended up on Kim's dinner plate that night. Not for this girl....
Another very good reason to stay out of the rivers...this is a baby caiman. Orlando leaned off the boat and snatched it out of the water after dark.
He could see it because their eyes glow in the darkness.
And speaking of darkness, I've never quite experienced darkness as intense as this, trolling down the river surrounded by complete blackness with only Orlando's headlamp to illuminate the river ahead. The clear black sky was full of the brightest stars, like pinpricks in the black heavens, and the nearly-full moon overhead. No light pollution here! The whole trip back to the lodge was surreal, an experience to remember.
One afternoon, Orlando and Ugo took us to the mouth of the Amazon, where several rivers some together and lots of dolphins hang out. I was lucky enough to catch this shot! Dolphins are tough to photograph...but once in awhile a girl gets lucky.
In the distance, my friends, is the mouth of the mighty Amazon River!
Three of the most memorable and fantastic days of our lives, venturing...
....into the Amazon jungle.