- ID: About the size of a small dog, with a stumpy tail and three claws on each of its four feet. Only active sporadically during the day and night. Feeds almost exclusively on leaves, and has a multi-chambered stomach to ferment tough vegetable matter.
- Where: Individuals rarely move from the upper branches of their favourite trees – mostly cecropias or kapoks. So they can usually be found where these trees grow.
- ID: The four species of caiman – black, white- bellied, smooth-fronted and dwarf – can be hard to spot during the day, when they leave the water and climb onto partially submerged tree trunks to bask.
- Where: Look for them lurking in the water lettuce along the edges of smaller rivers, in creeks and lagoons, waiting for frogs, dragonflies and small fish. The adults hunt bigger prey such as peccaries, paca and large fish.
- ID: One of the world’s largest butterflies with a wingspan of up to 20cm. Rests with its wings folded, the mottled brown undersides making it invisible to predators and tourists alike. The upperwings of both sexes are a gorgeous iridescent blue, though the males can appear brighter, and are only glimpsed in wafting flight.
- Where: Adults spend most of their time on low shrubs, close to the forest floor. Look for them in wooded clearings and along small tributaries.]
ESSENTIAL TRAVEL INFORMATION
- Sophie travelled to Peru with Cox & Kings on its tailor-made Delfin Amazon cruise, flying from London Heathrow to Lima via Amsterdam with KLM and up to Iquitos with Lan Peru.
- Other tour operators include Orient Express; Audley; and Journey Latin America.
- Flights are also provided by Iberia and Continental Airlines.
- Return flights emitted 7,880kg of carbon dioxide and cost €183 to offset: click here.
- Measuring 20m x 6m, the Delfin is owned and run by Lissy Urteaga and her husband. It has six air-conditioned cabins with ensuite shower rooms (and hot water) and an open sundeck. They have recently acquired a new boat – Delfin II – with 14 suites.
When to go
- When the waters are high from May to August, you can take skiffs under the forest canopy; at other times, when waters are low, you can hike on jungle trails.
Useful things to know
- Delfin cuisine includes fresh fish, chicken and beef, potato, rice and fresh fruit. You must try Peru’s flagship dish – cebiche (made with raw diced fish or shellfish, raw onions, sweet potato and corn) – and drink a pisco sour (made with pisco brandy, lemon juice, the white of an egg and sugar).
- Peru is hot and humid with an average temperature of 27.5˚C, so take light, cool, casual clothing, a lightweight waterproof and sun protection. Always carry bottled water and don’t forget your binoculars – the wildlife rarely comes close.
- Mosquitoes and biting bugs are not a problem, but you will still need insect repellent, which also deters ticks. And don’t forget your anti-malarials.
- You can change sterling to Peruvian soles at the airport, but America dollars are also widely accepted.
- For more information about Peru, click here.
- Birds of Peru (Helm Field Guides), £29.99, code W1109/17
- A Neotropical Companion (2nd ed) by J Kricher, Princeton, £24.95, code W1109/18
- Peru (Lonely Planet), £14.99, code W1109/19. Order on p88, quoting relevant code.
Find out more about Sophie and the team here.