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A river boat is the only way in to the largest protected refuge in South America

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If a humid, tropical jungle teeming with reptiles, huge insects, predatory fish and sinister-looking plants holds no appeal, go elsewhere.

Tim Appleby/The Globe and Mail

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But if you want to handle an anaconda, catch and eat a fierce, red-bellied piranha (crunchy) or examine a tarantula the size of an ashtray, Pacaya Samiria National Reserve in Peru is the place.

Courtesy of Tim Appleby

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Getting up close, but not too personal, with a tarantula.

Tim Appleby/The Globe and Mail

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“Can I hold her for a moment?” someone asked. Absolutely not, replied our guide, the beast firmly in his grip as the cameras flashed. “You would not have all your fingers when you finished.”

Tim Appleby/The Globe and Mail

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More than 800 species of birds live in the Peruvian Amazon (the country is home to more species than any other).

Richard Russ

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‘You can come here 20 times and each time it will be different,’ we’re told.

Elard Aranibar Meza/G Adventures

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Our skiff paused on a rescue mission: A baby three-toed sloth with its distinctively circled eyes was stranded on a tree stump.

Tim Appleby/The Globe and Mail

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Canoes, hollowed out like these or built from planks, are still in wide use among Amazon rain forest residents.

Tim Appleby/The Globe and Mail

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Visits with indigenous communities offer an introduction into new cultures.

Richard Russ

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On board our riverboat, the Queen Violeta, we found clean cabins, tasty Peruvian-oriented cuisine, a well-stocked bar, dinner-hour entertainment from crew members who morphed into musicians, and hammocks on the top deck.

Elard Aranibar Meza/G Adventures

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