An adventure in the wilds of the Amazon – without roughing it

‘Tsk tsk.” How our guide, Neycer Pizango, heard the teeth-­sucking call above our skiff’s outboards, I’ll never know – for even with engines cut, I struggled to identify anything beyond birdsong and clicking cicadas. Then a shadow moved, and a tiny, maned primate leapt, tutting, into a spondias tree’s boughs.

“It’s a pygmy marmoset: the world’s smallest monkey,” Neycer grinned. “I knew I’d heard it.”

Welcome to Peru’s Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve: a biodiverse world of extremes, where rain falls so ­heavily it goes up your nose, ­freakishly pink dolphins play in unnervingly black waters, and 4oz monkeys with 1980s mullets chatter like ­disapproving grannies.

Set at the Amazon river’s head and flanked by its Ucayali and Maranon tributaries, Pacaya-Samiria is ­accessible only by boat. During these high-water months (roughly ­December to May), water levels can rise by 10ft, flooding most of the forest and forcing terrestrial inhabitants, humans included, further inland. 

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