way...put up the tarp! © Josh Cutler.
We had only been on the Amazon River for ten minutes when the sky opened up
and sheets of rain poured down upon us, filling our ride with puddles of water.
I had total confidence in our driver...although I must admit it made me nervous
when I saw him cross himself and begin to pray.
The five of us each grabbed a corner of a plastic tarp to shield us from the
Soon nature's fury was over and all my belongings I
meticulously packed for the next 17 days were completely soaked! "That's life in
the rain forest" my guide joked in broken English "You can always expect some
Moments later we were
baking in the tropical sun, coasting down the murky brown river like a condor on
a mountain breeze. Civilization disappeared behind me as I headed into the great
The Amazon River is one of the
world's great natural mysteries. It stretches 4000 miles long and most of it has
yet to be explored. The basin is home to 2,000 species of fish (more than the
entire Atlantic Ocean) and 4,000 species of birds! Its greatest biodiversity is
in its insects...millions of them...needless to say, I packed my deet bug
After two hours on the open water the river started to become very thin &
shallow. The underside of the boat was taking a beating from the sunken logs
& debris. Suddenly, our boat became lodged on the bottom, scraping its belly
on the muddy surface.
Patiently, my guide waited for a local to arrive and literally "tow" our
motor boat the remaining 5 kilometers upriver. Amazonian children curious to see
what all the commotion was about rushed out of their ramshackle stick huts to
give us a wave. At 135 km into the jungle, this "excitement" was probably the
highlight of their week.
|Photo. Coasting down the Peruvian Amazon. © Josh Cutler.
After clearing that obstacle we docked our boat and made
our way to the Muyuna lodge where I was to stay the next three days. Muyuna is
an ecological establishment with eight simple wooden cabins built on stilts.
They are sometimes underwater during the wet season. Fortunately, we had two
months until the rain really began to come down.
Muyuna is literally in the middle of nowhere...about 20 miles due east from
¨Bumblefuck¨. It has no electricity, gas or hot water. Here, nestled in the
heart of the Yucacana branch of the Amazon, life is simple. The area is filled
with tons of trees, animals and all the oxygen the world will ever need.
Photos. The Amazon sunset. © Josh Cutler.
This deep in the jungle you can see colours you've never seen before or even
knew existed! The combined sounds of the birds, insects and running river can
lull one into a state of complete serenity.
As night sprawls across the Amazon
basin, the mosquito army arrives in swarms. The massive amounts of pesky insects
call the attention of their biggest predator...the bat. As dusk envelops the
area, hundreds of bats awaken for their feeding frenzy. It is like witnessing an
airborne buffet. One bloodsucker eating another... The bats eradic flight is an
unbelievable sight to witness...They whizzed inches from my face, never once
crashing into one another.
After sunset, I accompanied my guide, Horhay, on a nocturnal hunt. On this
"hunt" we would shoot nothing but pictures, take nothing but memories and leave
nothing but footprints...
We trekked through the jungle under the luminous
moonlight until we came upon a massive fig tree. It looked like an arboreal
labyrinth with its entire root system above the ground. The tree had lots of
hiding spaces for the "Bird Eating Tarantula"...You can imagine how big these
arachnids are if they eat BIRDS! They were everywhere, creeping, crawling and
eating. The tree appeared to be alive with the furry legged creatures.
|Photo. These furry spiders like to dine on small birds! ©
Horhay caught one with his bare hands and put it on my arm. He assured me "It
won't bite if you don't move". Needless to say, I was as still as the
night...petrified as wood!
Photos. Creeping creature on Josh (the author of this article).
© Josh Cutler.
Take the damn picture and get this thing off me!
After the adrenaline rush
of the Tarantula tree we boarded our small boat to witness some of
the nocturnal life along the riverbed. With the choral soundtrack of a
million frogs, we coasted downstream, motor off, to avoid scaring away the Amazon
We shined our flashlights into the mass of vegetation hoping to see the
reflective reptilian eyes staring back. "There's one!" my guide whispered.
Fifteen feet from our small boat lay the prehistoric beast. It's crazy to think
that only hours before, the local children were bathing, swimming and fishing in
this very river...such is life on the Amazon.
Photo. A local fisherman, bringing his kids to work. ©
Children bathed here just before an Amazon Caiman (crocodile) showed
Phishing for Pirhana
The following morning we awoke early for a sunrise
fishing trip. Dawn in the heart of the jungle is a different kind of visual
feast. A light fog pulls back like a blanket revealing nature's intense colours.
Within minutes the universe changes from misty grey into a blinding green. A
light layer of haze hovers over the waters surface until the intense tropical
sun beats it into submission.
Today we would be fishing
for the Amazon's most feared predator...not the Caiman or the Jaguar...but the
Photo. Pirhana...its whats for dinner. © Josh Cutler.
Catching these infamous beasts is quite simple. They eat anything and
Within an hour we caught enough pirhana for lunch AND dinner. They're
actually quite tasty...once you get past the bones.
This article continues in part 2. Read more about Josh Cutler`s dramatic
experiences in the Amazon jungle.
Josh Cutler, 4 November 2004
Read more about great
adventures in Amazon on our website.
Based on our experiences and
contacts in the region, we would like to give advise and provide information to
they who like to travel there!
Contact us in Travel Explorations on stein@TravelExplorations.com.
Presentation of the author:
Josh Cutler has been interested in travel
as far back as age 5. Growing up, he would spend countless hours reading and
rereading the world atlas. While most other children played with Star Wars
figures and Big Wheel Bikes, Josh's favourite toy was his globe. His country of origin is the USA (from the
Philadelphia area). He currently lives in Ventnor, New Jersey.
travels led him to Mexico and
Central America. Then, at age 25 he quit his job and spent months exploring
Western Europe and North
Africa. It was a life altering experience to
live out of a back pack for such an extended period of time. As much as he
saw...his hunger for travel and exploration seemed to grow
Photo. Josh Cutler is an adventure
traveller, photograph and freelance journalist from USA.
passion was travel writing. He has had several articles published by Lonely
Planet and Globe Trekker."My greatest joy is experiencing different
cultures, religions and lifestyles...then being able to convey my visions
through words and description to those back home."
Josh has visited
over twenty countries including Peru,
and most of Europe. For further
information, assignments, articles and photos, Josh Cutler could be contacted on