KIMBERLY ROSBE never imagined she’d ever be following a tribesman armed with a machete deep into Peru’s Amazon jungle on an anaconda hunt. But she did, and she’s alive to tell the tale! Read on to see if you have what it takes to set off on a Delfin cruise aboard the “most boutique and luxurious operation on the Amazon”.
Every whim attended to on the Delfin
Four days before hunting anacondas, my Amazon adventure began at the riverside village of Nauta. It was three hours from Iquitos, where I boarded the Delfin I, the most boutique and luxurious operation on the Amazon.
With four suites housing a maximum of eight guests, every whim is attended.
As I breathe in the rainforest’s pristine oxygenated air from my second floor terrace large enough to hold a table and chairs, two teak sun lounges and an outdoor shower, I take in my surroundings and pause sailing quietly past riverbanks.
Looking around my oversized master suite, ironically called The Anaconda Suite, floor-to-ceiling windows make nature part of the decor bringing the outside in. No expense was spared to create the most elegant riverboat on the Amazon. Every woodwork, including the ceiling, was made of gleaming polished teak.
The downstairs suites had jacuzzis on their deck. Even the bathroom was well appointed with a large walk-in shower, with yes, HOT water.
Three times a day my discreet butler Wilson serviced my suite to perfection. The centre deck held the kitchen and dining room.
Decorated for each meal and encircled by glass on three sides, dining is a treat with Peruvian chefs on board creating local and international delicacies with fresh sustainable ingredients to rival the great kitchens of the world.
On the top observation deck, a lounge area with a stately wooden bar invites lingering guests between outdoor adventures.
A feast for the senses
After boarding at 5pm, the first evening we wasted no time and hopped into a long skinny skiff to watch the sun set where the Amazon converged. The captain cut off the motor and we float in reverie listening to the harmonious music of the jungle.
The Amazon is not just a feast for the eyes but for the ears. Close your eyes and listen. Life burst forth with sound. The natural symphony of the jungle is on par with the melodic poetry of Vivaldi.
The wind above our head resonates with the chatter of over 450 species of birds – Cocoi herons, the pre-historic hoatzin, rainbow colored macaws, the black-collared hawk. Monkeys fly from branch to branch calling to each other. The whole rainforest’s abundant fauna is in constant vibration.
Wild and wonderful
Up at dawn we slide through the unpredictable Amazon on skiff expeditions which lasted hours. Coasting through the intricate network of narrow tributaries reveal the astounding exotic biodiversity of this untouched region – the poisonous tiny red-barked frog, yellow tailed woolly monkeys, brown throated sloths, green iguanas, black caimans, towering ceiba trees, endangered scarlet macaws, rare pink river dolphins, giant anacondas and infamous piranhas – which one afternoon we actually actively fished!
Nightfall didn’t deter us heading into the jungle with flashlights after dark as the nocturnal animals came alive around us. With spotlight on the front of the skiff, the red eyes of caimans led the way on the river ahead in search of other hidden creatures of the night.
Plane crash in the Amazon jungle
In the 1970s, a plane crashed into the Amazon jungle and a 17 year old girl named Juliane Koepoke was the sole survivor. The next 11 days she managed to stay alive in the jungle, sustained by what she learned during a two year stint living with her parents in the Peruvian rainforest while they established the Panguana Ecological Research Station.
Speaking for myself as a bonafide city girl, how Juliane survived alone for 11 days in the jungle seems inconceivable but the indigenous tribes of the Amazon survive here every day, living off the land and totally isolated from the outside world.
As our luxurious riverboat glided along, we’d see glimpses of the locals’ way of life – mothers washing clothes by the water’s edge, kids swimming naked playing in the river, fathers in a lone canoe paddling along or fishing for dinner.
Frolicking grey and pink river dolphins are never far away but beware of the legend. Local folklore believes the pink dolphin changes into seductive young men to steal girls away…
“Nightfall didn’t deter us heading into the jungle with flashlights after dark as the nocturnal animals came alive around us. With spotlight on the front of the skiff, the red eyes of caimans led the way on the river ahead in search of other hidden creatures of the night.”
Wanted: witch doctors
This is a place where the locals still fear voodoo, black magic and still use, when needed, witch doctors. According to our guide who grew up in the area, the witch doctor can have just as much power as the ‘doc.’
Our guide told the story of a man who went to a witch doctor to deter a person who had grossly wronged him. A toad’s mouth was tied and sealed in a tree trunk and within a week, that man was dead.
Believe it or not?
Delfin’s owner is perpetually exemplifying his commitment to this region’s people by embracing locals who live within the Pacaya Simiria National Reserve. Continual efforts are made to improve the quality of living and opportunities for these amazing tribesmen, who have been long isolated from civilization.
Initiatives range from hiring local guides for jungle exploration to providing emergency and medical assistance to supporting the women (known as the Yarapa butterflies) making handcrafts which empower these woman to contribute financially to their households.
A dolphin in disguise
The final evening in Amazonia was a fitting end. We watched the sun set via skiff surrounded by dozens of pink dolphins playing – the rich hues of the sinking sun reflecting off the characteristic hump on their back.
Brave souls dove in and joined them. Jungle myth says that on hot summer nights when Amazon people are celebrating, the pink dolphin (otherwise known as the King of Waters) will show up disguised as an attractive foreigner in spotless white and a straw hat.
Seducing young beautiful woman with stories of remote lands, he’ll lead her to the river banks where he’ll charm her into forgetting her past life. Willingly the woman will dive into the depths of the river as her skin turns to scales becoming the King of the River’s wife to live with him in his majestic watery domain.
After a week in this magical land of Amazonia, I wonder, “Is this such a terrible fate?”