Into the Amazon again

Trip Start Mar 15, 2006
Trip End Dec 20, 2006

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Flag of Peru  ,
Thursday, October 19, 2006

I never feel like writing after I{ve uploaded my photos, but I suppose I should.
The 7 day trip to Manu national park was amazing. THough more expensive than trips in Bolivia, the operation was much more professional, with an English speaking biologist as a guide, and more emphasis on conservation.
Manu Park is one of the biggest in the world, measuring 1881,200 hectares (about the size of Wales), and is one of the most biodiverse areas on the planet. So far more than 1000 bird species and 15,000 plant species have been counted. The park zone is also home to Amazonian tribes who have never had contact with the outside world.
Entering the park by bus at an altitude of more than 3000 metres we descended through the Puna and the Elphin forest before spending a night in the Cloud forest, home to many beautiful orchids, as well as the strange looking red Cock of the Rock, the national bird of Peru. The next day we descended further into the rainforest, passing several villages on the way. We stopped at one village to buy Yuka (a root vegetable that we would eat with our dinners for the rest of our trip), and bananas. The villagers cut down the whole Yuka tree with a machete before digging up the roots.
From here we travelled by boat further down the Madre de Dios river, to Blanchillo lake. We took a little raft on this peaceful lake, and saw lots of birdlife. Early the next morning we visited the Clay Lick for parrots and macaws. The birds gather early in the morning to socialise, and eat special clay that contains sodium, potassium and calcium in certain proportions. The clay also neutralises the toxins in the fruit the birds eat. Seeing the giant Red and Green macaws socialising, hanging upside down from branches, kissing and cuddling each other was an amazing sight!
A torrential downpour started shortly after visiting the macaws, which made for a very wet boat trip upriver, and a wet night spent in tents at our campsite.
The next day we entered the Reserved zone of Manu, where there are no villages, and a greater diversity of wildlife. We made several walks over the next couple of days. We saw hundreds of monkeys (8 species in total, of the 13 that live in the park), as well as caiman, rare giant otters, pecaries (similar to a wild pig), lots of birds and some amazing plants and insects (I managed to get bitten by mosquitoes, sandflies, ticks, and wasps!). We were all hoping to see a jaguar, but it eluded us.
I ended the trip flying out from the small grass landing strip in Boca Manu, and have returned to Cusco.
Unfortunately time has been running away from me, and there is so much that I would love to see here in Peru that I will not have time for. From here I will head up to Macchu Picchu, before flying to Ecuador for a trip to the Galapagos islands, and return to Argentina in time to meet Nick in November.
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