Spotting birds and wildlife during Amazon River cruise

Spotting Wildlife

Each morning, we began the day at sunrise with a skiff exploration.  The birds were particularly active in the early morning, with parakeets and toucan often flying overhead.  A number of species, new to North Americans, were spotted each day.  One of our guides carried a birding book and could easily identify and locate descriptions for us.

Heron on the shore of the Amazon River
Heron on the Amazon River

The white heron, no matter how often I see it in my backyard at home or in the Amazon River will always be the most beautiful and graceful creature in my mind.  Most mornings, I was able to spot at least one and enjoy it’s tranquility.

We normally got back to the ship at about 8 a.m. for breakfast.  Sometimes,we had another expedition, either on the skiffs or on shore, later in the morning.  As much as I loved coming upon colonies of monkeys, I was also obsessed with the sounds of these creatures playing and squawking in the trees.  They moved so quickly that it was likely the first evidence of their whereabouts, after the sound, was the tree branches flailing from their jumps.

If there could possibly be a slower animal than the turtle, it has to be the three toed sloth.  We saw them again and again in the trees and they always just looked like blobs.  Only once did we see one on the move, but we saw dozens just hanging out.

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Vacation packing checklist for foreign travel


Below is a packing checklist, it can be used for all types of travel in and out of your home country.  Some to-do items are no brainers (pack a bathing suit) and others require significant forethought (checking passport expiration date). Next week’s adventure will require more than the usual planning, since they probably don’t have a Walmart of Gap along the Amazon River. Even if they do, I’m not sure the local Shaman will want to take me there in his canoe. So, planning is key.

Help me out and leave additional items in the comment box for other readers.

Paperwork Checklist

Passport and Visa if needed.

Yellow card that proves I’ve had the required shots for the country. I bring it even if they don’t required proof, that way I know what I’ve had in case of illness.

Travel itinerary, proof of travel insurance, and the 24 hour contact info for your travel agent.

Electronics Checklist

Camera, extra battery and memory cards, charger.

Cell phone and Kindle with chargers.

Fitbit. The new pedometer battery and memory last a week. I keep it in my pocket, not only to see how much walking I’ve done in a day, but as a guilt remover so I can eat all I want on vacation. After all, I’m not sitting at a desk all day, so my steps and calories burned is always way up. An unintended benefit is the clock that’s built in; even on the plane, I can see the time.

Computer, mini or ipad. Use to download and share pictures daily, this is a really fun way to relive the day with new friends too.

Universal power converter.

Toiletries and Medical Supplies

Daily use personal items, always in 3 ounce or smaller containers. Even if I check my luggage I like to keep those things on my person to use on the flight.

Bug spray and sun block.

Neosporin and band aids. Any open wound, no matter how small, should be treated like I germ magnet when in foreign lands.

Prescription medicines should stay in your carry on. Also carry: Imodium, Aleve, Tylenol, and Pepto Bismal. I never use any of them, but it’s the peace of mind that comes with having them.

Dramamine. For me, my ticket to travel. If I’m on a moving vehicle, like an Amazon Rive Cruiser, I take a half tablet each morning for the first few days to get used to the motion. This keeps my mind and body ahead of any upsets.

Water bottle. Hydration is proven to help with motion sickness, wrinkles, joint pain, hang overs and to most importantly, to quench thirst.

Clothing checklist

A light jacket that can serve as raingear, sun protection, bug protection and for warmth. I like to have zipper pockets, to keep my phone and passport dry if needed too.

Two pair of shoes, one will be on my feet when I board the plane and the other might be hiking sandals that can get wet.

One dress, made of a synthetic fabric, that can be used for a dress dinner, or can be a backup for a hot day.

The usual shorts, pants, tops under things and swim suit, also one white long sleeved tshirt.

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