Published: February 11th 2006June 25th 2005
Amazon Adventure by Willard Price
This was one of 14 of Willard Price books that inspired me to be a zoologist! Unfortunately I ended up being a social worker in wild Catford!
A fulfilment of a childhood dream - a trip into the Amazon Rainforest!
As a boy I avidly read Willard Price's book series of adventures, the first, and my favourite, written in 1949 was 'Amazon Adventure'. Me and my friend, Iain, were addicts of his 14 books. So inspiring were they, that I resolved to be a zoologist just like the main characters, Hal and Roger, and to go and catch animals in exotic locations for zoos around the world! Now that the world has moved on slightly (and myself) and that is no longer considered a cool thing to do!
Willard DeMille Price was born on 28 July 1887 in Peterborough, Ontario, and moved to the US when he was four. He got his MA and Litt.D from Columbia, edited the journels Survey and World Outlook, and travelled on many expeditions for the National Geographic Society and the American Museum of Natural History between 1920 and 1967. He wrote fourteen Adventure books for young readers: Amazon Adventure (1949), South Sea Adventure (1952), Underwater Adventure (1954), Volcano Adventure (1956), Whale Adventure (1960), African Adventure (1963), Elephant Adventure (1964), Safari Adventure (1966), Lion Adventure (1967), Gorilla Adventure (1969), Diving Adventure
Man rowing a canoe
Through some narrow mangroves to Lake Sandoval.
(1970), Cannibal Adventure (1972), Tiger Adventure (1979) and Arctic Adventure (1980). He also wrote 'The Negro Around the World (1925)' but we won't mention that! (The world has moved on slightly since then!).
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On 25th June we flew from Cusco to Puerto Maldonado in the South of Peru. The Amazon jungle covers more than half of Peru, as well as huge chunks of Brasil, Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana. In all over 2.2 million square miles! It was a joy to be back in the steamy heat of the rainforest again. We had pre-booked from Britain a 3 day tour into the jungle staying at the Reserva Amazonica Lodge located right on the Madre de Dios riverbank. After a 45 minute canoe ride we arrived at the Lodge and were soon ensconed in our little wooden bungalow, a happy mix of rusticness and luxury. It was somewhat reassuring to see that there was a high level of mosquito security with netting covering all entrance points! There was no electricity in the huts so three hurricane lamps were
the order of the day.
Our first activity was a precarious walk along a 100ft high tree canopy, one of only two in Peru. With sweaty palms we edged our way from treetop-to-treetop trying not to look down, although I think the object of the exercise was to look down! Back on terra firma our guide showed us a young boa constrictor unceremoniously housed in a large plastic bottle and an evil-looking tarantula peeking out from a hole in a tree, while giant butterflies wisely kept on the move. At night the coatimundis and an ocelot could be spotted roaming around the vicinity of the Lodge. In the morning we were up before sunrise and off in the canoes to Monkey Island,where, yes you guessed it, we saw some monkeys. In the evening we went cayman (a type of crocodile) hunting. This involved slowly cruising in the canoes close to the riverbank and shining a searchlight on the hapless creatures, one of which was further shocked to find himself being grabbed by the neck by our quick-footed guide and being thrust in the faces of a boatload of excited tourists! Our final trip was to Lake Sandoval set deep
in the jungle, involving a canoe down the river, a rather long walk through the rainforest, then another canoe journey through a narrow mangrove swamp which opens out into the beautiful forest-surrounded lake. We narrowly missed some giant otters but we did manage to see some more monkeys and lots of birdlife.
On the way back to the airport we stopped off at a butterfly farm where they breed the famous giant butterflies, resplendent in turquoise and silver dashes, and export them all over the world. We were sad to leave the tranquility and mystique of the Amazon but we looked forward to a short spell in Lima before heading to Huancayo to do some volunteering in the high Andean city.
There are more photos below