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On its way to the lowland rainforest the Marañón River passes through a narrow gorge with powerful currents, whirlpools, and huge rocks ― the Pongo Manseriche. The canyon is 4.8 km (3 miles) long and the walls about 600 m (2000 ft) deep, narrowing in places to a width of only 30 m (100 ft).
Today it's my turn to travel through this gorge. Someone told me that the journey through this gorge is best made in the dry months – July, August and September when the water level is low and the rapids are safe. Felix, our boatman won't go if it has been raining more than usual and the river is too high. It's early July and the river is not too high.
Our plan is to hitch a ride on a float plane to Iquitos the city on the west bank of the Amazon River. In this isolated city the only way out is by air or boat.
We set off in the aluminum speed boat powered by a 40 hp motor. Soon the boat is racing along. It’s a beautiful sunny day. The spray is flicking past us cooling the air. Felix makes a course away from centre yet not too close to the rocks and the steep rock walls.
Once past the rapids it's as if we have crossed to another world. It's flat and the river has changed from being swift and narrow to slow and meandering. We have left the cool of the mountains and now stretching as far as the eye can see is low jungle. The humidity makes me feel hot and sticky. Our destination lays ahead – Sarameriza the small settlement where we will leave by float plane to Iquitos.
Downstream the journey in a large passenger and cargo boat to Iquitos takes four days. There are only a few cabins, so it’s best to take a hammock.
We go to a check-point and present our letters requesting a courtesy flight from the large oil company. They approve our flight and we return to wait at the floating platform.
The plane arrives – a 20 seater Canadian made plane. Inside I find a seat by a small window. The pilot taxis out into the centre of the Marañón River. The engines begin to race as we go down river then turn ready for take off. Both pilots have a hand on the throttle pushing it in as we speed up the river. The plane climbs and in no time the river is below. The plane continues to climb to about 8,000 ft. From horizon to horizon I see a green sea of jungle. As far as I can see are trees, some winding dark brown rivers and the occasional settlement.