Kyle Thomas 04/04/2019 | Posted in Recreational/Touring
I love kayaking. The versatility of kayaking is one of the reasons I love the sport. I can travel anywhere in the world, find a waterway, and likely be able to find a kayak to paddle around. I have been fortunate to paddle in Mexico, Canada, Switzerland, Scotland, and more. I decided to hop on a plane then another plane, then another plane to end up in Iquitos, Peru. I had one goal in mind: explore the Amazon. This was a bucket list item for me. Specifically the Amazon Rainforest and the Amazon River. When you think of the Amazon, do you think of Peru? Probably not. More people think of the Amazon with regard to Brazil.
The Amazon River is the largest river by discharge volume of water in the world, and is one of the longest rivers in the world. The average discharge is about 200,000+ cubic meters per second (whoa….I know right!). Upstream of Iquitos, Peru, my wife and I boarded a boat and navigated the Marañón River. The Marañón River forms what countries other than Brazil consider to be the main stem of the Amazon. While navigating to our treehouse lodging, I became fixated on one thing. I could actually kayak the Amazon River on this trip! I told my adventure guide that there was one thing I had to do, and it didn’t matter what time, what day, or even if there was anyone else interested in the trip. My wife and I were going to take the adventure of a lifetime and kayak the Amazon River.
A couple of days later, we loaded up one sit-on-top tandem kayak for my wife and me. Sit-on-top kayaks are great because of their simplicity. It’s obvious where to sit, they fit a broad range of body types and paddling experience, and there isn’t much to figure out. You even end up being one of the few kayakers with tan legs. Tandem kayaks are a fun watercraft for my wife and I to go on adventures in. We can have one of us paddle while the other takes photos, we are capable of building up serious speed when paddling together, and we can converse during the entire trip. Yes, our paddles bump into each other every now and then, but it’s just part of the journey and learning to work together.
Because I didn’t want to have a brutal attainment day with Amazon flows, we took a boat to our launch point. As we transitioned from engine-powered to human-powered watercraft, I got really excited. Yes, you can cover a lot more terrain in a powerboat, but there is something so raw about paddling a kayak. I can feel the water under my seat, I can feel it with my hands, and I can observe with scenery without being so disruptive to wildlife (thank you Leave No Trace principles). During our adventure, my wife and I glanced up at the trees on the riverbanks and were able to see a sloth, several monkeys, and porpoises. We even had a close encounter with a pair of monkeys. A kayak helped us to have this once-in-a-lifetime experience.
A couple of days later, I hit another epic milestone. I caught my first fish (makes me an angler right?). I did not have an outdoorsy upbringing and I have tried and failed many times to catch a fish, so this was a big moment for me. My adventure guide presented an opportunity to catch my first fish, and there was a possibility that it could be a piranha. So of course I said YES! Well, short story even shorter, I caught my first fish with a stick and string. My wife did catch a piranha and I was quite jealous. Later that evening, I had possibly the most epic dinner of fish ’n chips with the featured fish being my wife’s piranha catch.
Hopping in a kayak has changed my life for the better. I have had countless once-in-a-lifetime experiences via kayak like my trip to Iquitos, Peru. So next time you go on vacation, think about supporting that local kayak outfitter and go on a grand adventure. Expert tip: to get access to kayaks in other countries, it has been helpful to carry documentation for training you have completed (e.g. skills courses, skills assessments). For example, I am an active ACA Instructor and have completed several ACA skills courses. I carry my ACA Instructor card with me on trips like this or email a copy when booking trips. See you on the water!