1st - 2nd November
01/11/2011 - 02/11/2011
Heading into the rainforest for a well earned rest, we hit the Amazon forest 34 miles west of Bolivia on the confluence of the Ambopata and Madre de Dios River. As you stepped off the air-conditioned plane and the gentle temperatures of Cusco were left behind, the humidity hits you straight in the face. We were driven, hot and sweaty already to the main offices of the Ecolodge where we would be staying for the next 2 nights. We quickly repacked our bags, only taking the essentials for the duration of our trip and set off on the 3 hour boat ride up the Amazon. Our home would be Refugio Amazonas in the Tambopata Reserve. The reserve covers 109 hectares of jungle containing approximately 600 species of birds, and a vast amounts of insects, animals and fish in and around the jungle, river and lakes.
Our first night there and we headed out torches in hand to go Cayman spotting on the river. As the boat made it's way upstream the only light we were able to use was a spotlight. With this we scanned the river looking for the distinct reflection of the Caymans' eyes. Each time we spotted one the engine was switched off and we drifted in towards the bank trying to get a better view without scaring them away. We saw white and black Cayman on our trip, both small and large. On the way back through the rainforest we switched off our torches and stood in silence as we watched the glowworms and fireflies go about their business, shining like beacons in the pitch black night.
That night we went to sleep in our rooms with the sounds of the rainforest beyond lulling us to sleep. The rooms have only 3 sides, leaving one wall completely open to the elements and animals. Mosquito nets covering the beds, an open plan bathroom, and curtains for doors, it was definitely a different way to live for the next couple of days.
Our first morning here and we couldn't get away from the early starts. Up at 4.30am we dressed and had breakfast before embarking on a tour of the rainforest. We scaled a canopy tower to 35ft which allowed us to be at the same level as the tallest trees in the area. Looking out over the treetops we could see Yellow-Crowned Parrots, Macaws and Parakeets, aswell as butterflies fluttering around us.
A walk through the rainforest and we saw lots of insects such as giant grasshoppers, butterflies, leafcutter ants, army ants; walking trees that sprout new roots to move their position, and huge trees that it took all 19 of us to get our arms around, as well as one that we could actually get inside of.
Out on an oxbow lake we saw many varieties of birds including Hoatzin, Egret, Flycatcher, Vulture and Greater Ani, before we threw pieces of bread into the lake to feed the Piranha, even putting our hands in the water to dispell the urban myth.
After a much needed shower to cool off in the sweltering 40 degree heat and 95% humidity we took a short boat ride over the river to a fruit farm. Here they produce starfruit, mandarin, avocado, sugar cane, cocoa and chili pepper amongst other things which we were able to try.