As the orange-gold sun smolders over the Amazon River our boat makes its way slowly back to the lodge. We spent the day exploring the river and seen so many birds and wildlife. Pink dolphins splash, Blue-and-yellow macaws screech from the rainforest trees and Squirrel monkeys squabble over a position on a branch as they settle for the night.

on a boat at yarapa river, a pristine tributary off the Amazon River.
Amazon Yarapa River Lodge is on the Yarapa River.

The Amazon

From Iquitos, we travel to Amazon Yarapa River Lodge. The remote eco-lodge overlooks the Yarapa River, a pristine tributary of the Amazon River. It is a two-hour drive to the town of Nauta. Here a boat takes us far up the Amazon River and eventually the Yarapa River. The total trip from Iquitos takes 4 hours.

Blue-and-yellow macaw
Blue-and-yellow macaw

Pink dolphins splash around and jump out of the water. Yes, they are pink! It’s not until we see them up close, that we realise how huge they are. They are the largest freshwater dolphin in the world with some as big as 2.5 metres and weighing up to 180kg. Intelligent and curious some are known to interact with humans in the area.

Pink Dolphin Amazon
The rare Pink dolphin

On the Amazon River, the birdlife is immense and wondrous, and only improves on the Yarapa River. It is a bird lover’s utopia. Blue-and-yellow macaws, Blue-winged macaws, Amazon kingfishers and Toucans to name a few.

Simba the ocelot
Simba the Ocelot

Yarapa River Lodge

Upon arrival at the lodge, Jorge our guide, Ruben our chef and Angelo one of the lodge staff meet us. We have a welcome drink and the first of many simple but delicious meals inspired by the local cuisine. Ruben puts so much effort into the meals and even though the vegetarian food isn’t that common on the Amazon River, he puts together some scrumptious and tasty meals. All dietary requirements are catered for, and guests can request their favourite food and meals.

spider monkey
Eduardo the Spider monkey shows so much expression.

Built using local materials and concepts, the lodge is rustic and comfortable. Roofs are thatched which provides a natural cooling system and the lodge is run on solar power. The wooden furniture is hand-carved by locals and the beds in the huge bedrooms and the bar in the restaurant are extravagantly carved portraying wildlife and local culture.

jungle drinks
Enjoying a drink at the Yarapa River Lodge Bar

The Wildlife

We meet the local wildlife and the most adorable group of resident monkeys at Yarapa. There is no need for an alarm because Shebaca the resident Howler monkey wakes us every morning at 6.00 am. It’s a loud guttural sound and carries up to a distance of 5 km in the jungle. Howler monkeys make this noise in the morning and at night to check out where their competitors are.

Howler Monkey

Shebaca is a rescued monkey and is best friends with Eduardo the Spider monkey. The unlikely pair share a strong bond and adore each other. The rescue monkeys are free to come and go as they please and love human company.

amazon spider monkey
Eduardo is full of personality.

We visit local villages, hike in the rainforest, river cruise in a little traditional boat, look for birds, sloths and primates and learn about the medicinal plants.

Two toed sloth Amazon
Two-toed sloth

It’s exciting to see a Two-toed sloth in the wild close to the village. Notoriously slothful and slow they only descend from the tree canopy when moving from one tree to the other. Squirrel monkeys, one of the smallest primates and Capuchin monkeys play on the riverbank and we watch them from our boat.

Squirrel Monkeys
Squirrel monkeys

At night we meet Simba, a rescued Ocelot, also known as the Dwarf leopard. The lodge raised her from a baby and she is free to come and go as she pleases too. Simba spends her days out in the jungle and regularly returns. Sleek and adorable, with a dappled coat she has huge luminous yellow eyes. She has a few battle scars and Jorge tells us she has all the boys in the jungle after her.

ray and ocelot
Ray & Simba

Activities at Yarapa

The activities at Yarapa are flexible and tailored to the guest’s interests. Whether its bird watching, searching for pink dolphins, visiting local villages, night walks in the jungle, and so much more. Surrounded by rainforest and noises from the wild, this is one place guests can immerse themselves in a real jungle experience. The staff go out of their way to try and meet guest’s expectations and make it a trip of a lifetime.

White-Fronted Capuchin Monkey
White-fronted capuchin monkey

When we depart the lodge Eduardo runs along the riverbank chasing our boat for as far as he can. We don’t want to leave and wish we were staying for longer. Our four days at Yarapa River Lodge were entertaining and moving. We feel privileged to have spent time here with the monkeys and other wildlife.

spider monkey in the amazon
Eduardo the Spider monkey


We only had an overnight in Iquitos but it looks like an interesting city and we would love to come back one day and explore it more.

There are some great day trips from Iquitos.

The Manatee Rescue Centre Orphan and injured Manatees are rehabilitated and introduced back into the wild. If very young manatees are in care visitors can bottle-feed them and feed the older ones water lettuce.

Sue feeding the manatees at the Manatee Rescue Centre in Iquitos
Sue feeding the manatees at the Manatee Rescue Centre

Pilpintuwasi Butterfly Farm and Animal Rescue Centre Great informative tour on the butterflies with tours that show their life cycle including their eggs and cocoons. The star of the show here is the awesome Owl butterfly which has enormous yellow eyes to make him look like an owl and scare away predators.

La Isla de los Monos/ The Monkey Island Injured, orphaned and captured monkeys are cared for, rehabilitated and returned to the wild. The monkeys are free roaming and visitors can mingle freely with them.

Blue and Yellow Macaw in the amazon
On the Yarapa River the birdlife is immense and is a bird lover’s utopia.

While in Iquitos we stay at the Dorado Isabel Hotel which is near the main square, Plaza de Armas and the historic cathedral.

Bean and cheese tortillas at Karma cafe
Bean and cheese tortillas at Karma Cafe

Vegetarian food in Iquitos is scarce, but we found this gorgeous little café a little further up from the hotel, closer to the main square. Karma Café has lots of delicious vegetarian options. We just love the bean and cheese tortillas and the carafes of sangria with fresh fruit.

howler monkey in the amazon
Shebaca the Howler monkey
More of our Peru Travel Blogs

An Enchanting Cusco Stopover
Lares Trek
Ollantaytambo to Machu Picchu
Peru: 100 Best Tips to Make the Most of Your Visit

5 Responses to “Our Amazon River Journey: A Wondrous World of Birds and Wildlife”

  1. Pooja Mittal Aggarwal

    Iquitos sounds like an incredible experience. I’ve never even heard of a dwarf leopard / Ocelote and Simba seems just the name for her. Your photographs breathe human characteristics into each of the animals. The fierce eyes scream predator – or protector? Will she pounce or pet? Love or leap? The preening Macaw seems to be campaigning… for what I wonder? Eduardo antics are reminiscent of little children running amok… Shebaca, with his wise eyes and hunch reminds me of the Elder, looking out for all. And Pablo… I swear to you my little one is an identical twin! You’ve obliterated the line unfortunate humans have drawn between themselves and nature’s creations…
    The Yarapa River Lodge sounds like quite the hidden gem in the lush Amazon. The hand carved bar tells a story of its own. Can you please give more specifics on making bookings and the approximate costs for rooms and meals? And what is the best time of the year to visit? Monsoon would not be a great idea I would think…


    • Hi, Pooja. Thanks for your comments. Iquitos and the Amazon is a great place with so much to do. There are so many interesting characters. However when visiting the Amazon people need to keep their expectations in check in regards to wildlife viewing. Though it has an ecosystem unrivalled anywhere else, it is very hard to see the animals in the wild. The wildlife is very shy, elusive and wary of people. Unless humanised it is very rare to see the monkeys, sloths and other animals up close. Iquitos is suitable for travel all year. During the wet season, it doesn’t mean it’s raining all the time. Some argue the wet season is better as the boats can get close to the jungle canopy, and the plants and trees drop their fruit so attract wildlife. There are different packages available at Yarapa. We paid $250 per person a night. This sounds expensive, but it includes return transfers, all activities and three beautiful meals a day. Peru Travel Tips are coming soon…

      • Pooja Mittal Aggarwal

        Sue, Thanks so much for all the information! So season seems like a non-issue but personally I’d definitely want to avoid summer. I certainly know whom to ask when we do plan our trip :o) Great advice!

  2. Once again you make it so real and makes one want too pack a bag and take off.

  3. Holyy Browne

    i like your website.
    helpful your amazon travel . i like amazon river. glad too see


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