QuickPeek: Boat Ride.

Amazon Journey Day 1

The first leg on the Amazon would start on one of its Tributaries, Napo, as we head out of Coca towards the border of Ecuador and Peru. We had a 7:30 AM boat to catch and were up before 6 AM to be on time to catch it. After a quick b’fast, we got to the jetty, which was right next to the small place we stayed at. At 7 AM, the boat was already being packed up and when the captain saw the bikes, he was not pleased. But after a quick chat with the lady who sold us the tickets, he packed up the bike on the roof. Though the boat was packed to the gills, we managed to get all our bags in and found decent spots to sit too. The boat was full with 50 people in it and I was surprised to see that the capacity was 200!! Wonder where they could fit more people in.

The boat got off at 7:30 sharp, which was a surprise and the day was cloudy and cool. The boat wasn’t setting any speed records and with the occasional debris floating on the river, the captain took care to navigate around it. Though the river was super wide, at nearly 1000m wide in places, there were numerous trees and logs and occasional islands and it seemed like a lot of experience was needed in navigating it.

This river is strange for numerous reasons, I am nearly in the pacific side of the continent. The river is just a tributary to the amazon and it was 1000m wide and flowing pretty well. We are nearly at 200m and the river has to cross the entire continent before it finds the Atlantic ocean… I suppose the Amazon is a pretty special one indeed.

The scenery was dotted with occasional house and as we get close to some village, I’d spot Yucca and banana plantations. In the meanwhile, the bank was overgrown with dense forest. There were numerous industrial sites along the way too, I suppose some oil extraction and distribution center, pillaging the forest.

The problem with this leg of the journey was that the boat was basic and had no space or design for toilets. 4 hours of sitting next to water was making everyone’s bladder overflow, I reckon, and when we stopped for a lunch break, everyone ran out to hit the loo. It was a short break and I didn’t bother getting any lunch. Once after the stop, rain started and it came in bursts and pummelled the river. The visibility would turn poor and the fellers manning the boat had to slow down to make sure they could navigate thro the river debris. luckily they had curtains to keep some of the rain out, but the winds were blowing in the rain anyway.

After the on and off rain, and numerous stops to get passengers off, we eventually got to Nuevo Rocafurte at 4:30 PM (A 9 Hr ride). This was a pretty clean little town and when we got off, numerous locals started offering to take us across the border to Pantoja. The offer was 60$ a boat and I thought it was pricy. An Italian-Brazilian feller, Ricardo, was in the boat too and he was heading back home to Brazil and he wanted to join us and share the cost. We bargained down to 50$ with one feller and given we had bikes and all, I suppose we’d take it.

We decided to stay the night in town, partly because the long day’s ride was pretty tiring, but also because we had to do immigration work done before we leave Ecuador. We were told that the boat to Iquitos from the next town of Pantoja was a twice weekly affair and we might have to wait a few days in town before we could get one. Ah well, I suppose it’s par for this course. Once settled with the boat for the morning, we found a pretty spiffy new hotel in town for 8$ and decided to call it a day.

It was a pretty pleasant start to the Amazon journey, I expected a lot of pollution and Oil industry presence, but overall it was a pretty simple and clean ride. Of course, we are still in the early part of the river, we might know more of how the river has been treated as we make our way towards Brazil.

Track Notes

Route: Coca to Nuevo Rocafurte
Expenses: SG$ 55.44
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