When at home I hit the snooze button and crawl out of bed reluctantly, thinking of every excuse to stay in bed for an extra minute or two. Yet, when on my travels, a switch seems to flick, and I am up at the crack of dawn with a spring in my step.

I chose not to use the black-out blinds provided in my cabin on the Anakonda which would prevent the stream of sunlight at 6 am. However, the adage ‘the early bird catches the worm’ is true. Overnight the captain would tie up alongside the bank, so each early morning rise was rewarded with a wonderful view of the waking jungle. Upon sliding-back the panoramic window, I was struck by the unbelievable noise of chirping, warbling and croaking of thousands of insects and frogs all calling to each other. This constant hum was frequently broken by the raucous screeching of parrots and macaws. The damp earth and wet leaves gave off a distinct, but not unpleasant smell and the perfume of the forest flowers and fruits filled the air.

As I crept out on deck, the sun was beginning to burn through the heavy mist that hung in the trees, turning the sky awash with red, pink and orange streaks before it finally broke above the canopy bathing the river bank in warm light. With first light, the bird life all seemed to take flight. Chestnut fronted macaws announced their presence in pairs with a rasping screech. The parrots and parakeets were a little quieter as they flew erratically by in groups. There was a flash of yellow as an oropendola flew back to its intricately woven pendulum nest. The list of birds was seemingly endless from tiny swifts that swooped along the water surface to huge yellow vultures sitting on the sandbanks, wings outstretched, warming up in the sun.

Yet the greatest reward of all, were the mornings where I would slide my window back to the strange and haunting sound of the red howler monkey. The howlers would make their way to the river’s edge and a shrilling chorus would begin scaling notes so loud, cries can carry up to five kilometres. I know which morning alarm I prefer and there is no snooze button.

Thanks for reading

Sue Grimwood, Russian Arctic

Author: Sue Grimwood