Navigating

All I can say about this part of my trip is WOW. Quiet, peaceful, beautiful, amazing, incredible are adjectives that would describe a bit of all you see, so I’ll leave you with a few pictures in the hope they convey what words cannot.

Afternoon on the Huallaga River

river bank - the green forest

sunset

But not all was said and done. The ship was supposed to leave between noon and 4 PM. Later we were told we would leave at 6 PM. At around 5 PM we were told that we would leave tomorrow as a truck hadn’t arrived.

If there is a delay you can stay in the ship and you will have to receive dinner as the delay is caused by them. I hurried and went out to eat at Yurimaguas, to the same place they would later order chicken for all passengers.

Next day we left at 11 AM. A couple of German girls arrived who thought they were the only people speaking German on board. Hah hah. And one day later a couple of British girls who were coming out from the Pacaya-Samiria reserve came on board as well. 3 Ucranians were aside me and the wind carried the smoke of their cigarettes. Not really pleasant.

Food is served at a dinning table with china, paper napkins and other amenities. It is carefully arranged in the plate, seems pretty well done and tastes good, but is only one course plus tea and water is taken from the river and “purified” in order to be used. I was hungry at times and had a weird feeling in my stomach that was not pain nor gas but a slight discomfort that I cannot really describe in better terms. Didn’t get any stomach problems but if you are not used to Peruvian food or water better take food with you or medicine just in case.

after sunset

At night they close the tarps protecting the deck from wind or rain. You may prefer to take a sleeping bag, I had to put on my fleece jacket as temperature drops a little at night.

The trip was really interesting though at times you may want to read something or watch TV, beware that Van Damme or Steven Seagal seem all they want to see -other than cumbia videos. For me a Vargas Llosa novel and my iPod were pretty good company.

We stopped in several villages on the way. I recall the Maipuco -dunno if it is written so- name as it was the place were they were selling a whole banana bunch with more than, I don’t know, 100 bananas? for 4 soles. In Lima they sell 5 bananas -una mano- for 1 sol and I got about 11 red bananas for the same at Yurimaguas.

The last place before reaching our destination was Nauta. We stopped for a couple of hours in order to arrive early to Iquitos but not by nighttime, so I got the chance to wander around the town a bit. It was not really big. You can step down here and get a car or combi to Iquitos by 8 soles and you will arrive in two hours. Ticket is also cheaper until here, 100 soles in the upper deck. Cabins do not change price I was told.

Finally we arrived to Iquitos early the next morning.

Arriving to Iquitos

As of last weekend Absynthe is in charapa land.

Yurimaguas

The car came on time, a little before 4 AM. I got a seat by a window, my fleece jacket and we were on our way. Our driver was a very clean and proper guy that seemed to have legs and arms too short for his body and the smile of the 50’s Mickey Mouse.

The road is in pretty good condition, a part is being worked on, so not all is paved.

On the way, daylight having arrived, you can see mist surrounding the vegetation. It’s eerie and fascinating at the same time.

Arriving to Yurimaguas you seem to be assaulted by all motocar drivers at once: one talks to you, another one does it too, a third one opens the trunk and another one points at your pack while you see yet another one picking it up looking at you, convinced you will pick him for the ride. I use a costal plástico -a large bag used locally for grains but also to transport stuff in lieu of proper packing- imagine how crazy they get when they see a large backpack that may mean people not having a clue about local motocar fares.

Anyway, picked up one to drive me to the dock to check the ship to Iquitos. Got to the port, checked the ship, the prices and went back to the city to have breakfast after booking a place in the 3rd deck.

Went around town next and no hotel would take my backpack in custody so I carried it along and went shopping for goods and water to the market area. Got bored soon and went to the ship to just wait for departure. You can see my hammock and pack there.

upper deck with my hammock and pack

Here is an interesting tip: beware of motocar drivers or the guys who are at the port entrance, they want to carry your luggage or tag along with you to offer you a hammock for a higher price -20 or 25 soles- than the one you would pay in the ship that is 6 for small hammocks or 10 for larger ones to rent.

About the ship: there are several options but the larger and probably the safer ones are the Eduardo ships to Iquitos. They have a cargo deck -that takes almost anything from oranges to cows or a 4WD-, a passenger deck -60 soles- and an upper deck where you can go in a hammock -120 soles- or a cabin with a bed sizes ranging from a sofa-width (1/2 plaza – 140 soles) to a single bed (1 1/2 plazas 250 soles) and a twin (2 plazas – dunno) bed. The last two have private bathrooms and a fan.

Both decks serve meals to passengers but in the 2nd one you have to provide your cup, dish, fork, spoon and knife. In the 3rd one all that is provided to you.

Food appears to be the same.