The Pink Dolphins and the Brown Water
Posted on Dec 24, 2013 by Inga
On the Río Marañón
Christmas and the New Year were getting closer. Bimbino and Bambina had a plan to get till New Year's Eve to Cusco. They had to take a boat as soon as possible. Luckily the boats from Iquitos to Yurimaguas depart daily. The trip would take two and a half days, which was perfect. The monkeys would reach the land just at the right time to celebrate Chrismas in Tarapoto. They got to travel with a boat called Bruno.
The trip from Iquitos to Yurimaguas on the Bruno was quite different to the one with the Arabella-I on the Río Napo. Even that the two boats looked quite similar a lot of factors could not have been more contrary: space, food and hygiene.
The Bruno was much bigger than the Arabella-I. With the equal number of people on the both boats it made a great difference. Arabella-I had been so crowded that the monkeys had actually felt like cows ready for slaughter on a cattle carrier, on the Bruno in contrast like a fancy tourist on a 5-star cruise ship. However, that feeling did not come from the actual equipment of the ship but just from the sheer difference in space and attitude to the passengers!
A better hygienic standard was kept with proper cleaning service two times a day. The biggest difference however was regarding the food. Where most of the food on their first trip had tasted and looked like as it had already been digested once before the cooking, the talents of the Bruno galley crew were rather advanced. As the monkeys had not been able to foresee this, they had done a lot of shopping for this trip. As a result they had way too much food, but it was not bad at all. Bimbino simply transformed a tasty chicken dish into a gourmet Coq au Vin by adding tomatoes, carrots, olives and red wine into it.
Spending a lot of time on the upper deck was rewarded with the best spectacle the two monkeys were able to witness during their whole Amazon trip. The Río Marañón is beside the Río Ucayali one of the two main sources of the Amazon which only carries this name after the confluence of these two mighty rivers. As its name indicates, the Marañón is characterized by a brown color, similar to that of a hazelnut. Other rivers flowing into the Marañón often have a very different color as their sources are located in other regions of the Andes. Once such river joins the stream of the Marañón it looks like someone is pouring a light color into a pot of brown paint. The two rivers commingle only very slowly so that for some distance it appears to be two rivers are flowing side by side each other in one bed.
At one of these confluences the Bruno stopped at a little village to get loaded with cargo.
Not many people know that the Amazon basin is the home of pink colored fresh-water dolphins. Among the best places to watch these animals are usually the confluences of rivers, but this very location was a special one. As the Bruno left its engines on all dolphins around were pushed into a small area of the lighter river, and remained there until the boat left. Whereas normally it is very hard to spot a dolphin on the Marañón, here it was possible to watch a pod of them swimming, playing and jumping around for nearly an hour. An hour that let Bimbino and Bambina easily forget all the time they were staring from the boat, not seeing anything else but water and trees.
There were a few stops on the way but not too many. And those stops were in fact a delight, as there were people coming on board and selling loads tasty things. The best were the coconuts. At first you could drink the liquid out, and afterwards break the shell and eat fresh soft coconut flesh. And the best was that for one coconut you would pay 1 Sol, which equals 0,25 €.
There were quite a few foreigners on the boat. In the evenings they gathered on the roof to play cards and talk. Local kids liked the roof as well. No, not for playing football. It would be too sad if there was an "out". They were playing Dakar Rally Raid, and time by time meddling in the conversations of the foreign group.
Follow the adventures of the Travelling Monkeys! More stories to come soon...
Advice from Bimbino and Bambina
We are going to write here how to prepare for the boat trip: what to take with you, etc. It is quite similar to one of the previous post
s, where we have written what to take and what to be prepared for. But the boat trip from Iquitos to Yurimaguas is much more relaxed and pleasant.
How to find a boat:
Go to iPerú, which is located near by the main square, and ask for a print out schedule of the boats. There are regular boats going to Yurimaguas (up the Río Marañon) and to Pucallpa (up the Río Ucayali). They leave from different ports. iPerú has schedules for both directions. It is not that easy to find iPerú as they don't have obvious sign on the entrance. Just ask the locals, they will show you where exactly iPerú is.
You don't need to buy tickets in advance. And you should never buy tickets from anyone on the street, there are a lot of scammers. Buy it directly on the boat after boarding.
The boats usually depart around 5 p.m. You should be there in advance to get a good spot to hang your hammock. Two hours in advance would be fine, no need to get there in the morning.
The passage costs 90 Soles and takes around three days to Yurimaguas. Trip to Pucalpa must be longer, but we don't have certain information about it.
What to bring for the boat ride:
1. A hammock (25-30 Soles for a simple good hammock on the main market of Iquitos).
2. A rope (up to 4 Soles per meter; you'd need 3-5 meter per hammock depending on the thickness of the rope)
3. Mosquito repellent (Detán is good, 15 Soles x 240ml). If you don't have it they'll eat you alive...
4. Water (1,5 liter per person per day). It is available in 5 liter bottles on the main market.
Good to have:
1. Sunblock (30-50 Soles x 180ml)
2. Slippers (5 Soles, cheapest you find on the market)
3. Antiseptic alcohol. Always keep your hands clean.
4. Alcohol to drink! It makes evenings warm and cosy. And if it is a strong alcohol, can help keeping your stomach in a good mood as well. "Germs, beware of vodka!"
The food on the boats is included. And it is relatively good on the big boats connecting Iquitos with the rest of Perú. But the food is definitely not vegetarian. Bring your substitute or supplement.
1. Veggies and fruits.
2. Chocolate (snickers or twix are good, if it melts it is still tasty)
On the main market of Iquitos you can find cheap olives, avocados, cheese, mangos, etc. It can help greatly to diversify your meals on the boat.
Just whatever could make you happy. It can be tough on the boat, so take something to treat yourself.