This photo-blog is designed to work either as a standard blog with images or - by clicking any image - a photo-album. To see an image in full resolution click to the left or right of an image in blog mode. The images were generated from video to give the best possible view of the journey.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Shooting the Urubamba Rapids

We finally set off from the river terminal beyond Kiteni at around lunch time in great form despite the lack of sleep on the overnight truck ride from Quillabamba.

The first stretches of the river were 'plain sailing' cruising at speed on the outboard-driven long boat.

The crew was a mix of the eight of us including myself, Jose Luis, Jane, Heath and Adam and four others who joined the expedition, as well as the boatman, his young offsider, who was essential for polling the front of the boat on sharp swift-moving shallows and some other passengers taking a ride to one of the villages en route. The boat was also laden with a lot of trading produce and all of our possessions, cameras, tents, packs etc.

Jose Luis sharing a smoke with one of the crew.

and Heath ...

Jane and Adam

Adam playing the Jew's harp.

Clear felling on the slopes above the river

Hanging birds nests

The river is still winding through the hill country.

We came to a further settlement still accessible by road which was a river-road staging point at the frontier with a small main street of buildings just in the first stages of construction.

A huge species of catfish

The main street of a fresh new frontier town.

Many species of butterfly were drinking in the mud pools by the river.
Lower right shows open and shut views of this species.

Looking forward to the range of hills where the Pongo breaks out into the Amazon Basin.

There were many highly colourful flowering trees.
I have an uncanny feeling I was told the top right two are the poisonous 'tree of death'.

Another small community we passed.

The long boat needs to be poled, or oared, around sharp swift-moving shallows.

The calmer stretches are interspersed with multiple rapids which the boat has to shoot. Some of them are whitewater rapids so rough and full of air that the loaded boat would capsize, requiring some or all of us to walk around in a couple of places.

More clear felling.

The navigable rivers act like highways inviting colonization and ribbon development all along their banks.

The day moon

As we get nearer the Pongo we hit a severe rapid requiring the passengers to walk round so that the heavily laden boat could make it through the round waters without capsizing or hitting the rocks.

More polling in the swift-moving shallow bends

There were several more exciting rapids we had to shoot, dousing the cameras and our clothes and throwing us from side to side.

Video of shooting the Urubamba rapids

Then we hit a second severe rapid where everyone had to walk around.

Only lightly-laden boats can make it through this stretch.
Ours could take only the luggage.

The crews of several boats waiting for their craft to make it through.

Loading up for the journey on.

From here it was only a short ride in the late afternoon to the Pongo de Manique which we will traverse in the next posting.

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