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Exotic Tribes
Be a responsible traveller. Show tribal people respect and meet them on their premises. Visiting people with a different lifestyle and culture could sometimes be a very rewarding adventure, but be aware of that many tribal communities are extremely vulnerable to outside influences. All tribal people need to be protected from tourists in order to preserve their unique lifestyle and cultures. Travellers should understand that some tribes would like to live undisturbed, and that visit would be an intrusion.

Survivor in Amazon - Peru - Part 1 of 2

The sky roared like the belly of a hungry jaguar...our small boat was headed right toward the navy blue storm cloud.

By small, I mean large enough for five passengers and the three live chickens cramped behind my seat.
Photo. Major storm heading our 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 pounding rain.

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 rain".

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 unknown.

The Amazon
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 spray.

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! © Josh Cutler.

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 Caimans (gators).

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. © Josh Cutler.

Children bathed here just before an Amazon Caiman (crocodile) showed up.

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 Pirhana!

Photo. Pirhana...its whats for dinner. © Josh Cutler.

Catching these infamous beasts is quite simple. They eat anything and eat often!

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

Additional information
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.

His first 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 larger.

Photo. Josh Cutler is an adventure traveller, photograph and freelance journalist from USA.


Josh's other 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, Morocco, Thailand, Cambodia, Turkey, Belize, Guatemala and most of Europe. For further information, assignments, articles and photos, Josh Cutler could be contacted on e-mail: NYCutler@aol.com.

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