The Amazon Trip – Santarem Brazil

Santarem (Thurs 23rd January)

The city of Santarem was our first port of call. We were up for the sunrise again while the boat slid along the city seafront.

Once again, the ship was alive with insect life. I spent the first hour checking them all out and taking photos of exotic specimens.

We were all enthralled by huge vultures which circled above the boat sometimes buzzing the decks and appearing to swoop right at you.

Rather than touring the city or trekking the jungle we decided on a trip to Lake Maica to see the wild-life.

Following an interminable queuing for the tenders and fully coated in the double armour of gooey sunscreen and insect repellent (giving our skin a shiny, greasy look and pungent aroma) we transferred to small boats and set off. By now the sun was hot. On the boat the breeze was delicious.

We watched for dolphins but saw none. What we did see was lots of locals out travelling around in their canoes.

We travelled along a stretch of river which was a confluence of one tributary delivering dark clear water, and the rich brown chocolate that was the Amazon river. The two did not mix but strangely ran alongside each other. It was a strange sight. The terns and cormorants were diving into the waters after fish. Still no dolphins.

The lake was more of an oxbow. We slowly wended our way along surrounded by tropical rainforest. We could hear great numbers of squabbling parrots but not see them.

Then we pulled to the bank of the lake. There was a sloth up in a tree. Very exciting. Then we found two huge iguanas up in another tree. By the time we had finished we had a tally of two sloths, five iguanas and a number of birds – including ospreys.

We fished for piranhas (unsuccessfully) and then returned to the ship for lunch.

The local houses were built on stilts (because of the rising waters and had hammocks slung underneath in the shade. People either lay around in the hammocks or under the shade of big trees.)

They farmed cattle which could often be seen wading about in the water – probably to cool off. Fishing seemed to be the greatest activity.

After refuelling we decided to walk into town and boarded another tender. It was now afternoon and the sun was burning hot. We stepped off the boat and wilted. Deprived of the breeze the heat of thirty-seven degrees, coupled with humidity of at least one hundred percent (you could almost swim in the air). I took a few shots of local birds but it was too hot to do anything.

Walking into town was not going to happen so we walked around a little, visited a small market selling tat and (sadly) dried fish, and went back to the boat.

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