DixPix Photographs

     

WESTERN AMAZON

 
     
  Rivers of the Amazon Basin  

 

The Amazon Basin is all about rivers, they are the highways and the arteries of life.

 

By the time the main Amazon River has reached Colombia and is approaching Brazil, it is already a huge and mature river, with many channels and moving in a stately fashion.  Here is a sunset across one of those channels from Colombia's Amacayacu Park.  The far shore is an island. Click to see big picture (640x480 pixels; 95 KB)
As with any major highway, there are "river buses" such as this one which will drop you off or pick you up at any of the many settlements and landings along the river. Click to see big picture (640x480 pixels; 106 KB)
And for a shorter hop, here is a boat-boy awaiting for you to climb aboard in the port of Leticia. Click to see big picture (505x480 pixels; 84 KB)
Children of the river learn young how to maneuver small boats through the calmer backwaters. Click to see big picture (640x480 pixels; 151 KB)
The preferred means of private transport is the "long tail" motor, suited to shallow waters and known as a Peque-peque.  The name derives from the noise of the older motors. Click to see big picture (640x398 pixels; 78 KB)
In fact there is a huge variety of boats on the Amazon, some of them of unusual design. Click to see big picture (640x369 pixels; 56 KB)
And then there are the fishermen, some of whom seems to operate from surprisingly small boats, and catch a large variety of fish.  Below is one fisherman's catch from a mornings work.  Most of these are sold to small settlements along the river. Click to see big picture (422x480 pixels; 54 KB)
The river is a way of life, and has its own skill set.  Here one man fashions a paddle, while two others repair a dug-out. Click to see big picture (574x480 pixels; 154 KB)
When the rainy season hits the eastern slopes of the Cordillera (generally Dec. to March) the Amazon River and its major tributaries rise and flood vast areas of low lying forests.  Click to see big picture (567x480 pixels; 146 KB)
Both the forests and the people have adapted to this seasonal inundation, in fact it is built into the ecology of the region and many fish, trees etc. depend on it for parts of their life cycles. Click to see big picture (640x480 pixels; 145 KB)
Riverside settlements which are not blessed with higher ground nearby, must place buildings on stilts or pylons.  Here the water is already quite high.
Coiling loops of amazon rivers are regularly cut off to form Oxbow Lakes which eventually become marshes and are an important part of the ecology.  A Google Earth view of Atalaia do Norte area on the Brazil-Peru border.
Farther west, were the Amazon Basin meets the Cordillera, the rivers are of a very different nature.  Here we are heading out to explore the Aquaytia River in Peru against strong currents and white water. Click to see big picture (640x423 pixels; 93 KB)
These western rivers are beset with rapids and with shallow zones which motors cannot safely pass.  Here we approach one on the upper Aguaytia. Click to see big picture (546x480 pixels; 120 KB)
It is often necessary to jump out and push the canoes through shallow or difficult sections, in this case going up the Sungaroyacu River. Click to see big picture (640x413 pixels; 142 KB)
And from farther up the Sungaroyacu, a section simply too shallow to motor through. Click to see big picture (640x414 pixels; 124 KB)
The writer's feet after two days of pushing canoes up rapids.  There are stingrays in these rivers alos, but happily not in the fastest waters, usually. Click to see big picture (640x474 pixels; 117 KB)
Some of the calmer sections of the western rivers are used extensively for local transport, mainly by poling.  This is on the lower San Alejandro River. Click to see big picture (640x402 pixels; 125 KB)
But even here, getting produce to market can be a tricky family job for the river people. Click to see big picture (617x480 pixels; 147 KB)
There are also sudden storms of unusual fury on this western edge of the Amazon Basin.  Here one tears leaves from the rainforest and hurls them skyward, just before the downpour and lightning begin. Click to see big picture (640x441 pixels; 87 KB)

Crossing these wild rivers can also be a problem for local settlers.  Here a makeshift cable car is used.  A closer photo shows that it is two women and a child pulling themselves across by hand.

Click to see big picture (640x413 pixels; 109 KB)
Near the town of Tingo Maria in Peru, trucks brave strong waters to cross the Huallaga River. Click to see big picture (640x402 pixels; 107 KB)
While in eastern Bolivia, a road is served by a ferry consisting of a barge which is being pushed across by people wading and poling.  When the river rises, the road is closed. Click to see big picture (640x403 pixels; 53 KB)
There are other complications in this area, here a stream has been placer-mined for gold, and above is a legal? plantation of the "white gold", coca. Click to see big picture (640x440 pixels; 146 KB)