Peru: Expedition Dugout

Amazonas, Peru

Paddling a dugout canoe in the Amazon is a bucket list activity for many people. Why not go all in and build the canoe yourself, then paddle it through the jungle for multiple days? At FHE going all in is what we do best, and that’s what we’ve done with Expedition Dugout.

Our primary objective is to learn about and participate in the construction of a dugout canoe using techniques commonly used by rural Peruvians under the instruction of experienced locals. Most of the work will be done with axes, a few other hand tools, and fire. Once finished, we’ll paddle the canoe through the Amazon rainforest surrounded by pink dolphins, howler monkeys, macaws, caiman, and much more.

You’ll also experience intimate cultural immersion in the small community of Yarina on Rio Yanuyacu, where jungle and village life converge. This will be our base of operations during the construction process where we’ll stay with local families in their homes. Our stay in Yarina will present opportunities for more than just observation of the villager’s daily lives, but also participation and education of their crafts. Learn to make jewelry with palm fibers and seeds, catch a variety of fish including piranha, explore the surrounding jungle, play volleyball in the evenings, and learn some skills that many of us take for granted like how to pluck a chicken or cook on a fire.

At the end of the expedition, we will donate the canoe back to the village of Yarina. This will help to reduce our environmental impact by reducing the need of the community to make another canoe.

When: July 23 – August 7, 2020. 16 days during the dry season, when we are most likely to have fair weather and dry land for camping.

Where: Amazonas, Peru. Fly in and out of Iquitos, Peru. We’ll build the canoe near Yarina, a small village of a few families on Rio Yanuyacu within the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve.

What’s Included: Lodging, most food beginning with dinner on day 1 and ending with breakfast on day 16, local guides and interpreters, daily entrance fees and permits for the Pacaya Samiria Reserve, and all ground and water transportation. This also includes labor, materials, tools, and instruction from the village of Yarina for the construction of the canoe and other lessons. Hammocks, sleeping bags, PFDs, ponchos, and other gear is available.

What’s not included: Airfare, 5 meals in Iquitos, beverages between meals while in cities, alcoholic beverages, laundry service, unscheduled activities, additional days, personal travel insurance, and anything not listed as included.

Level of Difficulty: Moderate to high. You should have the desire to learn and work on the canoe for 4-6 hours a day using axes and other hand tools. You will work, camp, and paddle in the jungle in both sun and rain. Our purpose is not to push anyone to their limits so you don’t need to be an athlete to join this expedition. You should, however, have a basic level of fitness to keep up with daily activities, and be able to take small hardships with a smile on your face.

Price: $3,200 with a minimum of 4 and maximum of 8 participants.

(be sure to read our detailed itinerary)

Day 1: Arrive at the Iquitos airport.
Day 2: Gear checks, last minute preparations, visit the market, and explore the city.
Day 3: Travel to Yarina within the Pacaya Samira Reserve.
Day 4: Jungle walk and light work on the tree we will use.
Day 5-10 (estimate): Work on the canoe until completion. Explore the jungle, night walks, fishing, and time in Yarina getting to know the locals.
Day 11: Travel further up the Yanuyacu River by motorboat, towing our dugout. Camp in the jungle.
Day 12: Start paddling the canoe down the river and camp in the jungle.
Day 13: Continue paddling and possibly explore one of the small tributaries or lakes connected to the Yanuyacu. Camp or sleep in a village.
Day 14: Our final day on the water. Travel back to Iquitos, sleep in a hotel.
Day 15: Contingency day to be used as an additional day to work on the canoe if needed, to paddle, or to do and see more around Iquitos.
Day 16: Fly home.