Amazon watershed-sm

Project Amazonas

Flora, Fauna & Habitats

HABITATS OF

THE AMAZON

FLORA & FUNGI

FAUNA

RANDOM MUSINGS

The Amazon Watershed
The Amazon Watershed

This wonderful image created by Dr. Marilyn Weitzman of the Smithsonian Institution illustrates very well why the Amazon is the "Land of Rivers"

Amazon Basin vs the contiguous USA
Amazon Basin vs the contiguous USA

The size of the Amazon Basin is often difficult to comprehend. This map might help!

Loreto Towns and Rivers
Loreto Towns and Rivers

We are located in the Departamento (State) of Loreto, the largest "state" in Peru.

The Amazon Watershed
The Amazon Watershed

This wonderful image created by Dr. Marilyn Weitzman of the Smithsonian Institution illustrates very well why the Amazon is the "Land of Rivers"

1/6

The Natural Riches of the Amazon

It is hard to adequately convey the biological richness of the Amazon to people who haven't experienced it first-hand. Most people imagine a vast expanse of uniform rainforest, unbroken except by lumbering and ranching activities. Vast expansed of rainforest do still exist, but the forest and the plants and animals that live there is anything but uniform. 

With a rainfall gradient that gradually increases from the relatively "dry" eastern and southern Amazon, to the very wet western Amazon, there are pronounced differences in seasonality, forest structure and biodiversity across the region. Even within a very small area, differences in topography, soil characteristics, and geological and disturbance history (both natural and anthropogenic) can result in distinct differences in the plants and animals that are present. In most cases, we still don't know why so many Amazonian species are so patchily distributed - present in a few isolated areas, but absent from seemingly suitable and identical intervening habitat. There is still much to learn. 

Even the vast network of rivers that drains the Amazon contributes to the biodiversity, and not just of aquatic organisms. While it is estimated that there are more species of fish in the Amazon than in the entire Atlantic Ocean, the rivers contribute also to the diversity of birds, mammals, amphibians, reptiles and other organisms, serving as isolating barriers that separate populations and lead to the emergence of distinct species on opposite banks. 

But enough of the blah blah blah!  Let's meet some of the plants, animals and habitats that make the Amazon special!

Habitats of the Amazon

Content to be added January 2021

Madre Selva port - aerial view
Madre Selva port - aerial view

Tunche Caño (Ghost Creek) is our point of access. Here our 75' boat, the Esperanza is docked at the field station. At high water, there is 10 meters (30') of water in the creek, at low water there is 10 cm (3").

Madre Selva Location
Madre Selva Location

Madre Selva is located on the Orosa River, a southern tributary of the Amazon River.

Madre Selva aerial view
Madre Selva aerial view

From. bottom left to top right is the new dining hall, the classroom structure (now with a new roof), restrooms, dormitory and 2-person bungalows.

Madre Selva port - aerial view
Madre Selva port - aerial view

Tunche Caño (Ghost Creek) is our point of access. Here our 75' boat, the Esperanza is docked at the field station. At high water, there is 10 meters (30') of water in the creek, at low water there is 10 cm (3").

1/3
 
1/14

Terrestrial Habitats

Content to be added January 2021

Aquatic Habitats

Content to be added January 2021

Flora & Fungi

Location of Santa Cruz
Location of Santa Cruz

Due to river geography, accessing Santa Cruz quickly from Iquitos requires an overland hop to the town of Mazan on the Napo River.

Santa Cruz Satellite View
Santa Cruz Satellite View

Our most recent land additions to the protected area at Santa Cruz are shown here.

Iquitos to Santa Cruz Travel
Iquitos to Santa Cruz Travel

Route 66 from Iquitos to Santa Cruz!

Location of Santa Cruz
Location of Santa Cruz

Due to river geography, accessing Santa Cruz quickly from Iquitos requires an overland hop to the town of Mazan on the Napo River.

1/4

Content to be added January 2021

 

Flora

With many thousands of plant species present at our field sites, we present some of the more conspicuous and notable species. Even a "comprehensive" botanical survey would not provide a definitive list of the species present. Some are so rare that they may be locally represented by a single individual, and every year we encounter new species at our reserves. 

Fungi

River house porch
River house porch

An ample porch area overlooking the river is great for hanging out with friends, including the odd dog and chicken. The building was completed in spring 2020.

River house side
River house side

The river house has a large storage area for tools and equipment. A safety railing helps prevent any tipsy accidents.

Bridge of bridges
Bridge of bridges

To our knowledge, this is the very first serpentine bridge in the region. Reinforced concrete posts and thick ana caspi planks will ensure that it lasts for many years to come.

River house porch
River house porch

An ample porch area overlooking the river is great for hanging out with friends, including the odd dog and chicken. The building was completed in spring 2020.

1/8

Adjacent to the port facilities on the Mazan River, a new caretaker and researcher/volunteer “river house” was completed in 2019. This two-story structure has 3 large rooms on the upper floor capable of housing 4-6 persons in each room. On the first level are caretaker accommodations, storeroom, restrooms and a full kitchen. The building is electrified throughout with solar panels, and rainwater is collected from the roof surfaces for use. A 300-meter (~1000’) bridge starting at the “river house”, crosses a low-lying area that extends well inland, and which is flooded for extensive periods of time each year. This bridge now provides reliable access between the higher land on each side of the SCFR, including direct access to the tree nursery and arboretum at the site.

Fauna of the Amazon

The trail network is regularly maintained with bridges built over creeks and provides access to terra firme primary forest, varzea (seasonally flooded) forest, secondary forest of varying ages, and swamp forest. A few bridges do flood for a short period of time after heavy rains, but as bridges need to be replaced, they are also being elevated.  Trails can be muddy and slippery, and rubber boots are the recommended footwear. Extensive swamp forest and restingas (elevated ancient river berms) are accessible across the Mazan River to the north.

1/0
 

Our Fleet - M/F Esperanza

Esperanza riverboat
Esperanza riverboat

Our M/F Esperanza riverboat is the workhouse of our fleet. The M/F stands for 'moto fluvial' or 'river motor' and is a classification of the Peruvian Naval authorities.

Esperanza riverboat
Esperanza riverboat

A flat hull and shallow draft allows the boat to pull up to shore most anywhere, and also to access fairly small rivers.

Esperanza food
Esperanza food

Even something as simple as rice gets the touch-up treatment from the cooks. They take great pride in preparing attractive meals.

Esperanza riverboat
Esperanza riverboat

Our M/F Esperanza riverboat is the workhouse of our fleet. The M/F stands for 'moto fluvial' or 'river motor' and is a classification of the Peruvian Naval authorities.

1/16

Over the years we have purchased, built, modified, and operated a series of boats. Having our own boats ensures reliable transportation, as we do our own boat and motor maintenance and know exactly what the status of each boat is.  Chartering other boats can be a risky proposition since boats used for public transportation have regular motor breakdowns, and every few years, one sinks. 

 

Our flagship boat is the M/F Esperanza, a 23 meter (75’) two deck boat with live-aboard capacity for 18 passengers plus crew. When we purchased the original boat (then called the Nenita) in 2009, it was a wooden cargo hauler. We rebuilt the interior in 2009/2010, and since then have completely rebuilt the vessel into a steel hull and deck vessel. With a flat hull and a draft of only 1 meter (3’) when fully loaded, the Esperanza can access smaller rivers that are inaccessible by most boats of its size. A rooftop observation / hammock deck is where most passengers choose to be when the boat is underway. Cabins are small but comfortable, and rooftop solar panels power 12-volt lights, 12-volt fans and USB outlets in each cabin. An on-board generator complements the solar system.

 

The Esperanza is registered with and inspected annually by the Capitanía (Peruvian Naval Authorities). When not in use for medical service, academic, or research expeditions, it is available for charter. An auxiliary boat always accompanies the Esperanza on any trip. Contact us for date availability and rates.

Random Musings

Smaller boats are also part of our fleet. The Mai-Kai (named for the Mai-Kai Polynesian Restaurant and Review in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, which raised the funds for it) is a covered speedboat capable of transporting 18 passengers (without luggage) or 10-12 passengers (with luggage). Two open aluminum skiffs, the Margarita and the Shiripira, are used for local exploration and activities, and are ideal for birdwatching, fishing, and travel through narrow channels with low clearance.

 

Additional wooden boats, the Huarmitero, Antojero and the Yucundero are slower but more fuel efficient, and are used for transporting gear, supplies and construction materials. The Huarmitero and Antojero can also be used as a live-aboard vessel for small groups.

Esperanza & Mai-Kai
Esperanza & Mai-Kai

Our Mai-Kai speedboat usually is the auxiliary boat that accompanies medical and service expeditions. It gives faster access to more remote communities rain or shine, and can also be used for medical evacuations.

Mai-Kai exterior
Mai-Kai exterior

Three interior benches can seat 12 persons comfortably. Adding a few chairs can up the capacity to to 18 - if everyone are friends!

Antojero
Antojero

The Antojero wooden boat on the Rio Mazan. Photo by Laura Garcia.

Esperanza & Mai-Kai
Esperanza & Mai-Kai

Our Mai-Kai speedboat usually is the auxiliary boat that accompanies medical and service expeditions. It gives faster access to more remote communities rain or shine, and can also be used for medical evacuations.

1/5

Our Evolution over the Years

Madre Selva Field Station - 1995
Madre Selva Field Station - 1995

Our very first structure at Madre Selva was a floating field station - it had accommodations for 4, kitchen, dining area/lab, as well as a general store that sold basic necessities. Photo by Dick Bell.

Madre Selva Field Station - 1995
Madre Selva Field Station - 1995

Our very first structure at Madre Selva was a floating field station - it had accommodations for 4, kitchen, dining area/lab, as well as a general store that sold basic necessities. Photo by Dick Bell.

1/1
Field Sites

Our field sites and boats have all evolved considerably over the years since 1994, when we began with a shoe-string budget. You may enjoy seeing some of the historic photos of our field stations and boats. If you have pictures from the early years of Project Amazonas, we’d love to add them to the slide show!

Margarita - 1980s
Margarita - 1980s

The Margarita was the vessel that led to the creation of Project Amazonas. The ship's captain, Albert Slugocki, introduced many people to the Peruvian Amazon in the 1980s, a core of whom became the founding members of Project Amazonas in 1994.

El Dorado - first of our boats!
El Dorado - first of our boats!

This pamacari-style boat was our first vessel. Purchased for about $500, it served us for the first couple of years when we were on a very tight budget. Here it is in September 1994 at our floating field station at the Madre Selva Biological Station, Orosa River.

Float Plane - Putumayo River
Float Plane - Putumayo River

A small private plane brought in essential supplies and one of the trip organizers to the Putumayo River.

Margarita - 1980s
Margarita - 1980s

The Margarita was the vessel that led to the creation of Project Amazonas. The ship's captain, Albert Slugocki, introduced many people to the Peruvian Amazon in the 1980s, a core of whom became the founding members of Project Amazonas in 1994.

1/24
Boats