We use cookies to give you the best possible experience on our site. Click here to find out more. Allow cookies

arrow Register here

Forgotten password?

Full Circle

Day 193: Pongo De Mainique, Urubamba River

Michael Palin - Full CircleAfter we sail past the walls and out of the Andes, everything is an anti-climax. The transition to lowland is swift and total. Volcanic rock and hard black beaches are replaced by soft red mud banks most of which have collapsed into the water. The scenery, released from the exciting confinement of the Pongo, spreads itself out, wide low and flat. The river, though still prone to the odd stretch of difficult fast water becomes wider and more even-tempered. A cayman, one of the crocodile family, pale and chalk-white, perks its head at our approach, then slides off its sandbar and into the water.

We make camp for the night on a sandy beach where the river forks round a low island. A pair of bat falcons with black heads and yellow eye-holes are perched motionless on top of a dead tree. Tall stands of cana brava - wild sugar cane - rise behind us to a height of fifteen feet or more before folding over and bending gracefully toward the ground.

Later: Basil, who has been out by the river for a smoke, reappears in some distress. Apparently he had heard a snake slither by him, heading for the tents. The men have cornered it. Barry calms him down. Any snake here, he says, would be pretty harmless. Eventually he is persuaded to take a look at it . 'My God! That's a fer-de-lance!' He jumps a mile. Apparently it's the second most dangerous snake in the Amazon, after the bushmaster. Basil gives up smoking for the rest of the evening, and the snake, a thin hapless creature, is put to death by the boatmen.
Choose another day from Full Circle


  • Series: Full Circle
  • Day: 193
  • Country/sea: Peru
  • Place: Pongo de Manaique rapids
  • Book page no: 263

Bookmarks will keep your place in one or more series. But you'll need to register and/or log in.