Dennis Osorio

Introducing Dennis Osorio, Your Guide to the Peruvian Amazon

Dennis Osorio

Born and raised in Lima by a family of Andean descent, Dennis Osorio spent his childhood traveling to Cusco, Machu Picchu and his grandparents’ farm, located at 13,000 feet above sea level in Puno.

Though often afflicted with altitude sickness as a boy, these journeys inspired a love of exploration. He ultimately got a Masters Degree in hotel and tourism management (with a concentration in Sustainable Tourism), then headed to South Africa’s Inkwazi Ranger Training School and became a naturalist guide.

But his heart soon led him back to his native country, and now he serves as an Expedition Leader for International Expeditions. We spoke to this expert Peruvian Amazon guide to learn about his passion for sustainable ecotourism, birding, and everything the Amazon has to offer.
How did you originally become interested in nature and wildlife?

As a Peruvian Boy Scout, I learned to appreciate and respect nature, and enjoyed looking for lizards, frogs and birds with my friends. I was so impressed the first time I saw an Andean Condor flying very close in one of the camps.

In Machu Picchu, during my training in birding, we found a Golden-headed Quetzal, an Andean Motmot and an Andean Cock of the Rock, all in the same tree. After that I decided to continue birding for the rest of my life.
Why is sustainable ecotourism is important to you?

The tourism industry needs to be sustainable, because each activity we do leaves a footprint. IE’s Amazon cruise visits the
Pacaya Samiria National Reserve, which benefits the area instead of polluting and using up the resources.

We set a plan which helps to preserve and improve the quality of life of the population in the Amazon: Our guests bring school supplies for donation to local schools, we have water treatment programs in the communities we visit, we support an environmental education program (overseen by
CONAPAC) in a school in Iquitos, and we hire locals villagers as trackers so they can increase their incomes by protecting and guiding visitors in the forest instead to hunting and logging.

There are a lot of amazing rivers in the world. What makes the Amazon so special?

From traveling I learned that every place in the world has its charm. The Amazon is full of life, so wherever you look you’ll see or hear something. Because it’s remote, you don’t have to worry about anything other than enjoying the simple things– sunsets, the sounds of the forest, the friendliness of the people and the amazing wildlife. Each excursion has a highlight, from Poison Dart Frogs to Red Howler Monkeys. Every day we know what we are looking for, but we never know what we’re going to find.
Can you talk about your connection with the Ribereños (or River People) and their culture?

The Ribereños play a very important role, as they are the main ones responsible for preserving or destroying the forest. In Loreto and the Pacaya Samiria surroundings, the
Ribereños seems to understand their importance to the forest better than in other parts of the Peruvian Amazon.

These people are very friendly. When we visit a village, they always greet us as old friends. They share almost everything, and help each other all the time. When we visit a school, the kids get so excited watching tall guests with colorful clothes and big shoes. They’re very happy children: During the day they go to school, paddle canoes, fish, swim and are very obedient with their parents and grandparents.

Their culture is based around the forest and everything it provides to them, including food, medicine, and wood, among others. Shamans are an important part of their culture, but the number of shamans is decreasing. Most of the time people think of the Amazon’s big rivers, dense forests and wildlife. But the contact with the people is one of the best parts of the experience.   
You're an avid birder. What's the best thing about birdwatching in the Amazon?

The Amazon is one of the best places in the world for birdwatching. The new World Record for one day of birdwatching was in the Peruvian Amazon, with 354 species spotted in 24 hours.

The best thing is that you can really challenge your skills, identifying birds in certain habitats by sight or sound. But it’s also possible to enjoy birding as a beginner, because lots of them are easy to see.

Birding in the Amazon is never boring: You can find noisy macaws, colorful tanagers, flycatchers, woodpeckers, hawks, eagles and owls, among others. My favorite species include the Plum-throated Cotinga, Amazonian Umbrellabird, Great Potoo, Ornate Hawk-Eagle and the Harpy Eagle.
What do you hope travelers who visit the Amazon will take away from their experience?

I hope they go home knowing that their visit was not only enjoyable, but also generated benefits for the local people and wildlife. Travelers seem to be getting more conscious of their impact, and choosing the right tour operator is an important factor.

People often ask whether it’s better to visit the Amazon during the high water or low water season. But really, each season has its advantage. Lots of guests come back to see how both seasons are, sometimes even during the same year!

In the end, I just hope they come away with a once-in-a-lifetime experience they will never forget.

How to Go

Inspired to join Dennis and explore the famed waters of the Amazon River? International Expeditions offers year-round Amazon River cruises along with land-based options. Check out IE's signature 10-day Amazon Cruise or the 7-day Amazon River & Rainforest Tour, named one of Fodor's Best River Cruises of 2014.