Saturday, February 27, 2010

History of the M/F CLAVERO

The magnificent steam boats of the late 19th and early 20th century that navigated the majestic Amazon River were crucial to the culture and economy, and changed the scenery from scattered missionary outposts to steamship routes.

The M/F Clavero is a historic naval boat of the Peruvian Amazon and is the oldest boat still traveling on the Amazon River. The Clavero was built in Paris, France, in 1878 and its original name was the Cahuapanas. The Peruvian Navy bought her in 1892 to be used on the Amazon.

The Cahuapanas was one of the most important ships on the Amazon for her service to protect the Peruvian Amazon from invaders, to explore unknown tributaries and to provide communication and mail in the Amazon. The Cahuapanas was used to fight the Ecuadorian Navy on the Rio Napo in 1903 and also was part of an expedition to the Rio Purus in 1905. In 1911 the ship was used to deliver mail on the Marañón and Ucayali rivers which come together to form the Amazon River.
In 1933 the ship was sold to the Morey Shipping Company and was used to carry cargo. It was re-named the Clavero for Manuel Clavero Mugua who was the Captain of the M/V America and a hero of the Peruvian Navy.

The Clavero is a 28 meter long and 5 meter wide boat of steel construction. She was completely rebuilt in 2007-2009. The Clavero 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


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The GreenTracks Naturalist


Thorny Devil (Panacanthus cuspidatus). While crickets and katydids may seem inoffensive, a bite from this beast will change that notion.

Passion Vine Bug (Anisoscelis sp). As they fly from plant to plant while feeding, these bugs look like shimmering jewels.

Ox Beetle (Strategus aloeus). Perhaps rhino would be a better name, as these beetles use their horns to defend their territory against other Ox Beetles.

Giant Wood Borer (Euchroma gigantea). The iridescent wing covers of this beetle are used to make elaborate earrings by several tribes of Indians.

Tortoise Beetle (Eugenysa sp). True to their name, when attacked these beetles pull their legs beneath the shell-like wing covers for protection.

Leaf Mantid (Acanthops tuberculata). Any insect failing to detect this camouflaged predator must pay a high price.

Ornate Hopper (Family Fulgoridae). This tiny nymph is too young to be reliably identified, but it already sports an impressive outfit!

Ornate Hopper (Family Fulgoridae). Interesting things can come in small packages; this one is the size of a peppercorn!

Peruvian Stick Insect (Oerophoetes peruana). Despite the bright color, when a stick insect stops moving it is nearly impossible to detect in the foliage.

Flying Stick (Family Phasmidae). Some stick mimics like this one can fly to safety and they also can spray a repellent in order to protect themselves.

Pleasing Fungus Beetle (Erotylus sp). Yes, they do live and feed on fungus but are they pleasing? You decide.

Bark Weevil (Rhinastus latisternus). With their peculiar eyes and ludicrous snouts, weevils seem like they were designed by Dr. Seuss.


Saturday, February 20, 2010

Virgen de la Candelaria Festival - Puno

Living in Peru
17 February, 2010
Photos and essay by Andrew Dare

The first two weeks of February sees one of the largest fiestas in South America in Puno, next to lake Titicaca: the spectacular Festival of the Virgen de la Candelaria.

Puno’s Virgen de la Candelaria statue — Mary with a child in one hand and a green candle in the other — was brought from Spain sometime between 1580 and 1590. It is thought to have been made in Seville or Cadiz.As the local story goes, in the 1700s, the Spanish rulers in Puno were under attack from an Inca uprising lead by Tupac Amaru. Some 12,000 men were gathered in the hills round Puno, many more than in the city itself. The worried locals took the statue of the Virgin de la Candelaria out from the church for a long procession round the town, they say, coupled with dancing and loud music that lasted into the night.
The story goes that this put off the imminent attack, as the rebels left worried and unsure just how powerful and how many people were actually in Puno. Ever since, the Virgin is venerated and held high as the patron of Puno.


GreenTracks Lake Titicaca/Puno programs


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Cuzco mural by Juan Bravo

Famed Peruvian muralist Juan Bravo completed a history of the Incas and Cuzco in 1992. It is located on the Avenida del Sol in Cuzco. These photos come from the blog of Faviana Rodriguez with photos by estria/

The left-hand side of the mural.

The Building of Cuzco.

The Inca and the Puma. The Puma was sacred to the Incas.

The middle part of the mural. The main figure is one of the Inca’s most powerful rulers Pachacutec.

The festival of Inti Raymi that the Quechuas used to honor the sacred Sun.

The killing of Tupac Amaru, who lead a revolt against the Spanish in 1781.

Right hand side. The Independence of Cuzco.

The Independence of Cuzco showing the textile industry, the symbolic rainbow of Cuzco and the Inca looking to the future.



Saturday, February 13, 2010

SPOTLIGHT ON FAUNA - Spectacled Bear

Long before the time of the Huarí and the Inca, something else roamed the hills and valleys of the Andes. The Spectacled or Andean Bear (Tremarctos ornatus) is the only member of the bear family present in South America. Its name derives from the rings of white fur around the eyes of many individuals that give the impression of eyeglasses. Usually living anywhere from 1,800 to 3,300 meters above sea-level, Spectacled Bears will venture into the lowlands to raid cornfields when food supplies are low. Although these bears reach nearly 400 lbs, they manage to sustain themselves on a diet of roots, tubers, and shoots, supplemented by an occasional rodent or other small animal.

Spectacled Bears range from Venezuela and Colombia south into Argentina, always in the Andes Mountains or in smaller associated cordilleras. Much of the habitat is remote and of difficult access, but bears are still hunted for medicinal purposes or because of crop raiding. Even inspired hikers and trekkers count themselves lucky if they glimpse this impressive creature in the wild. The zoo in Cusco has several extremely large specimens, and there are others in some US zoos. We have been privileged to see Spectacled Bears in the high páramo of the Colombian Andes while they fed on massive Puya bromeliads. But the all-time prize goes to a GreenTracks group visiting Madidi National Park in Bolivia: in one week they saw a Spectacled Bear and two jaguars!

When we hike the Inca Trail or visit the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu, our thoughts naturally turn to the ancient civilization that once occupied the region, but we are always aware that we are also in territory still inhabited by the Spectacled bear.


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


Sunday, February 7, 2010

Win a cruise on the Delfin II Amazon Riverboat!

Win an Amazon Cruise valued at $3616! The winner of our random drawing will receive.....

One cabin on the Delfin II for 2 people on a 4 Day/3 Night departure in 2010.

Congratulations to our winner! Steve Jobes

GreenTracks thanks Delfin Amazon Cruises for their generous sponsorship of the contest.

Cruise the Amazon in upscale comfort aboard an elegantly appointed riverboat to visit the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve. The Pacaya-Samiria is home to some of the largest populations of wildlife in all the Amazon. Hordes of pink and gray river dolphins, packs of howler and squirrel monkeys, massive flocks of brilliant macaws, huge lagoons covered in giant lily pads teeming with fish of all sizes and colors....all of these and more mark the region as Another World. Excursions to view wildlife, hike in the rainforest and visit a riverside village.

GreenTracks Delfin Riverboat Cruises