iOS app Android app More

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors


The Traveling Doctors Of The Amazon (PHOTOS)

Posted: 12/05/2012 7:00 am

Deep in the Amazon jungle, upriver of the town of Iquitos, Peru, a team of visiting and local doctors steam up the Amazon and its tributaries on the riverboat Nenita. For weeks on end, as part of Project Amazonas, they provide essential medical services to the remote villages, where locals live in thatched-roof malokas. In these villages, which are sometimes weeks away from the regional hospital in Iquitos, Peru, medical care and health education only come by boat.

Olivier Drouin, a doctor from Montreal, is one of the doctors aboard The Nenita and Where Travel documented his journey into the jungle. His trip, which you might call voluntourism, offers him the opportunity to swat mosquitoes aboard a barge-like boat, in concert with Peruvian colleagues. Without CT scanners or laser-guided surgical tools, the teams practice what they like to call "real medicine."

It's this world of dugout canoes and annual floods where modern medical practices are colliding with village traditions.

--Geoff Kohl,

More from WhereTraveler:

Loading Slideshow...
  • The Nenita on the Yaguasyacu River

    Project Amazonas' hospital riverboat The Nenita steams up the Yaguasyacu River toward Ancon Colonia, the most remote community on the river. High floodwaters allowed access to this Bora Indian community not normally accessible by larger vessels. (©AidJoy)

  • Blowing bubbles in the Amazon.

    Project Amazonas volunteer Dr. Olivier Drouin teaches village children the fine art of bubble blowing after a clinic session winds down. (©AidJoy)

  • Jumping from the hospital boat

    The Amazon river basin is often feared for its piranhas and other dangerous aquatic creatures, but after long days working in village clinics, medical volunteers sometimes spring from the roof of The Nenita for a dip in the river.

  • Surgery aboard a boat

    A patient from a remote Amazonian village undergoes the surgical removal of an encysted wood splinter from his shoulder aboard the Project Amazonas hospital boat The Nenita. (©AidJoy)

  • Children paddling a dugout canoe among a flooded village

    Children head to clinic in a dugout canoe in the village of Nuevo Peru. The medical team arrived at the peak of an exceptionally high flood season. (©AidJoy)

  • A school becomes a medical clinic

    A Bora Indian village school in Ancon Colonia becomes a makeshift clinic for Torje Johannsen, a medical student visiting from Norway. (©Jonah Markowitz/AidJoy)

  • Weaving a thatched roof from palm fronds

    A man weaves thatch panels of irapay palm (Lepidocaryum tenue) fronds for a home in the Amazon. Such thatching will last three to four years before needing to be replaced. (©Jonah Markowitz/AidJoy)

  • At home in a Bora Indian village

    A Bora Indian boy stands in the entrance of a traditional Amazon home called a maloka. (©Jonah Markowitz/AidJoy)

  • Night in the Amazon basin

    Nightfall on the Ampiyacu River with the moon and Jupiter in in close proximity, seen clearly thanks to the absence of light pollution on a cool night.

  • Medical care along the Amazon

    Dr. Olivier Drouin (from Canada, in blue shirt) and Dr. Pablo Ruiz Beteta (from Peru, behind Drouin) interview patients, assisted by Yagua Indian elder Manuel Ramirez (in white shirt). (©AidJoy)


Follow WHERE on Twitter: