The Amazon is the largest river in the world by volume (the other top 8 added together makes the same flow), length (6275 kilometers) and delta width (240 kilometers). There are over 1100 tributaries that make up the Amazon River. The channel of the Amazon will move up to 30 meters during a season by eroding one side and depositing silt on the other. The depth even up in Peru (over 2700 km from the Atlantic Ocean) was over 22 meters, with a seasonal swing of 10 meters! During the normal wet season up to 90% of the land is flooded, only terra firma stays dry, but last year they went over their max by 2 meters. This flooded miles and miles of “high” ground and drowned many animals and displaced thousands of people to Iquitos. If you look closely at the trees you can notice the flood lines that are 8 to 10 feet higher than the current water level along the rivers (depending on your season of visit).
After years of disagreement between Peru and Ecuador, the river source of the Amazon was determined by calculating the largest volume & depth of the tributaries, which determined the source was the Ucayali river in Aerequipa at 1700 ft above sea level in the 1970’s, not in Ecuador.
Where the Amazon splits into two rivers (Ucayali and the Maranon) we took the Ucayali River up into Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve.
The terra firma forest being an area that never flooded was much different than most of the Amazon that we had seen, with much denser brush, much like what we are used to seeing in our forests at home. However this was a primary forest, nothing had ever been cut down which gave it a very different feel.
We traveled on the Amazon River aboard the International Expeditions (IE) M/F Aquamarine. It is an adventure/exploration type cruise and the accommodations on the boat were very good. The river is the roads of the Amazon and our skiffs were fast, maneuverable and had a shallow draft which allowed us to get into shallow places. We generally had 3 water excursion a day, each for a couple of hours, on skiffs with a naturalists (either Usiel and Victor) one to a skiff as well as our Expedition Leader (Dennis). Usiel and Victor were fantastic with an amazing ability to spot the wildlife down the tributaries over the noise of two 100 hp Mercury engines. Thanks to their efforts we saw lots and lots of birds, three toed sloths, iguanas, pink and grey river dolphins and lots of different kinds of monkeys. We only had one day (our first) where it rained while we were on the skiffs; the rest of the trip was dry while we were out. But there was a couple of time on the boat where it just poured rain.
Some highlights of our trip were seeing the amazing wildlife; like pink and grey dolphins, giant lily pads, the amazing amount of birds, and lots of monkeys. The wonderful sunsets and lots of rainbows. Fishing for (and eating) piranha; which are very bony, and have lots of small Y shaped bones in addition to the regular backbone and ribs. At night it was gorgeous sitting out in the “quiet” and listening to the roar of the jungle and all its insects, birds and animals while drinking ginger tea (or pisco sours) and eating chips. And looking up and seeing both the southern cross and the big dipper (but not the north star) since we were only 13 degrees away from the equator. Or racing along the Pacaya River where there were what looked like hundreds of egrets flying like a wave in front of our skiffs is one of our fondest memories.