Into the Peruvian Amazon: ‘I’m going to show you good things. Let’s start with an anaconda’

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On the third leg of his South American trip, our writer heads to the remote city of Iquitos and braves a swim in the Amazon – despite the fearsome reputation of the local fish
Part 1: The alternative Inca Trail
Part 2: Exploring Lake Titicaca

It is an absolute truth, hard-wired into every explorer’s tales, that the Amazon is deadly dangerous. If the electric eels, piranhas, sting rays and caimans don’t get you, the hordes of biting insects and snakes will. Every living thing is ready to devour you or lay eggs under your skin.

And, in a world of water, swimming is particularly risky. When the naturalist, explorer and writer Redmond O’Hanlon ventured upriver, he claimed to have adapted a cricketers’ protective box to pee through: a barrier for the dreaded candiru fish that allegedly swims up the urethra and gets stuck. For men, amputation could be the only solution. But then in the world of old-fashioned exploration, it was mainly men who got to be explorers, and presumably, those who survived were cricketers, or had extremely tight-fitting swimming trunks.

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