Wednesday, February 10, 2010

History of the M/F AYAPUA

Steamboats were at the heart of the rubber boom trade, carrying hundreds of millions of dollars of raw rubber from the depths of forest to Amazon River port cities such as Iquitos, Peru and Manaus, Brazil. But, the steamboats are gone and virtually all of the original boats have rotted away or been taken apart for scrap. Fortunately, the M/F Ayapua has been restored to approximate it's original splendor, converted to diesel for efficiency and is now the only operating riverboat of it's type left from that era.

The Ayapua, named after Lake Ayapua in Brazil, was built in Hamburg, Germany in 1906 and transported rubber along the Purus, Japua, Jura, Putumayo and Yavari rivers in Brazil and Peru during the early part of the 20th century. Work to restore the Ayapua was performed from 2004-2006. While the majority of the ship is original it took some serious searching in Brazil and Peru to find some missing parts and all told there are pieces from eight different rubber boom era ships on the Ayapua. She has three decks and is 108 feet long and 20 feet wide.

The original steam engine has been replaced by two marine diesels, but the smokestack remains as does the steam whistle (now run by compressed air.) In the wheel house one will find the original wheel and compass. The dining room, library and cabins are outfitted in period pieces, including pictures and drawings from the rubber boom era. All are now air-conditioned. There is even a working Victrola in the dining room. The bar and both covered and uncovered observation areas are on the upper deck.

Dining Room



Stairway to upper deck

Ship's Library

Original smokestack with steam whistle

Anchor winch
Original ship's wheel

Ship's bell (from the M/V Chandless)

The Ayapua is a restoration project in a holistic approach that conserves Amazonian history and the Amazon rainforest. She has been used by Earthwatch, Wildlife Conservation Society and GreenTracks. Expedition cruises travel to the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve of Peru or the Lago Preto Conservation Concession on the Yavari River.

GreenTracks Amazon Cruises



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