Amazon Riverboat Exploration

The Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve, the location of this study, is a rare example of how conservation can work in collaboration with local people. Today, global climate change, bringing severe droughts and floods, threatens even this protected area. Your help is critical in the effort to survey, manage, and protect the region so that wildlife and local human communities can thrive together.

What does it take to contribute to such an important project? You’ll float down a lazy river, watching dolphins leap and counting the macaws as they fly overhead. You’ll monitor the waters for once-endangered caiman, and keep your eyes open for large fish as the swim slowly by. If you’re lucky, you’ll spot recovering populations of giant river otters and manatees. And if you’re on hand during the dry season (August-November) you’ll count wading birds at the mouth of the Samiria river. You may catch and release river dolphins, measuring their health and growth.

When you’re ready for more strenuous work, you’ll climb aboard a canoe or motorized boat, and explore the shoreline, seeking out river turtles and helping to protect their eggs. Or you may walk slowly and quietly through the forest to record the movements of peccaries, tapirs, primates, and game birds. Working with local community members, you’ll learn about local fishing, hunting, and conservation efforts.

8-day expedition costs start from approximately $2600 USD, and include meals, accommodation, local transfers, training, lectures, and a small contribution to the project's ongoing sustainability. Also available for 15 day period starting at approximately $3675 USD.

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What to Expect?

Based on the Ayapua, a restored and remodeled vessel from the Rubber Boom era, you'll work with a team of skilled Peruvian biologists to collect information about the wildlife populations in the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve, along the Samiria River, a major Amazon tributary. This historic boats offers private, air-conditioned cabins with attached bathrooms. Towels and toiletries are all provided; cabins and toilets are cleaned daily and laundry can be done every few days.

After mornings and afternoons in the field, you can head to the air-conditioned dining room and be treated to an array of local delicacies as well as familiar offerings like roast beef and freshly-caught fish. The large dining room is also used for lectures, movies, and dancing.

Mid-morning coffee and afternoon tea (and cakes), are served daily, and beverages are available on the upper deck.

From a motorized canoe, you'll rotate tasks like conducting surveys of dolphins, fish, and river turtles. You'll also count macaws and conduct land surveys of peccaries, tapirs, deer, monkeys, and game birds. At night, you'll search for caimans with a spotlight. With expedition staff to guide you, you'll meet and talk to local people about their fishing, hunting, and conservation efforts.

In your recreational time, you can enjoy the air-conditioned library's many classic books on the Amazon, peruse the world news headlines as they are downloaded daily, check and send email, or simply relax on deck as you glide through one of the Earth's greatest wild places.

Once you arrive via riverboat to your destination deep within the Amazon, wildlife surveys will run each day. You’ll get to try your hand at all research tasks (and can spend extra time on your favorites). You'll:
    •    Search for dolphins. As you boat along with the current, you'll spot, count, and identify the species of individual pink river dolphins and grey dolphins.
    •    Hike the rainforest. In the rainforest, you'll track an abundance of wildlife, including primates and game birds, and record their behavior.
    •    Monitor macaws. From a boat, observe and count these colorful birds at 500-meter intervals.
    •    Take fish census. The fish practically jump out of the water onto the team's hand-made rods and nets. Measure, weigh, and identify the species of everything you catch.
    •    Track caimans. Take to the river at night to find these smaller relatives of the alligator. The team will locate caimans by shining headlights that reflect back when they catch their eyes. You'll safely capture, measure, and release any caimans you catch.
    •    Count bats. After dark when these nocturnal creatures are active, head out on the river to tally the bats that fish just above the surface of the water.

Between activities, you'll relax on the riverboat, enjoy the roof deck bar, or peruse the library. Upon request, the crew may even take you on short canoe excursions.

  • Program ID: # 2087
  • duration:
    1 to 2 Weeks
  • location:
    Iquitos, Peru Iquitos
    3° 26' 24" S, 73° 9' 0" W
  • Fitness level:
    Light Impact
  • Closest Airport:
    Iquitos (IQT)
  • Costs From:
    $1500 to $3000
    Over $3000
  • Program Type:
    Environmental & Wildlife Programs
    Learn Abroad
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