Trip Start Jul 18, 2008
7Trip End Sep 01, 2008
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Where I stayed
Well we got back from safely from the Amazon Jungle late yesterday evening without any major events. In fact the scariest part of the entire five days was definitely the bus ride back, and that´s saying something given all the dangerous and poisonous creepy crawlies we encountered (see below!). The part of the Amazonian jungle that we went to is called the Manu national park and is a vast area of lowland eastern Peru (20,000 sq km or according to the blurb ´about the size of Wales´). It was designated a Biosphere Reserve in 1977 and a World Natural Heritage Site in 1987 and so hasn´t suffered from damage by logging etc that other Amazonian areas have. The park is divided into three zones: the largest sector, to the west, is the zona natural comprising is essentially closed to unauthorized visitors. There are indigenous groups in this area that have had little or no contact with the outside world and they don´t want any either (they´re known to have killed researchers and tourists that have strayed too far into their hood!)
Over the next day we travelled further down the river and went to see the Macaw Lick. This is where all the parrots and macaws come from a wide radius to take advantage of the minerals in the ground. These birds eat some toxic fruit as part of their diet and use the salt lick to ease their aching stomachs (a bit like Alca Seltzer for birds!). Up until this point we had been spotting and identifying birds here and there as we zoomed by in the boat but the numbers, diversity and colours of the birds at the salt lick was really fantastic. By the way our guide (Michel) was brilliant and had a scope and tripod focused in on everything in seconds and then pointed out the species in the taxonomic book. That night we went to see the Mammal Lick which is the same idea but is visited by Tapirs and other mammals. Unfortunately none of them showed up for us which was a bit of a disappointment but was more than compensated for by the night time walk back to the lodge where there were all sorts of really poisonous insects and spiders. Most of the spiders are fairly relaxed, even the huge ones, but its the bullet ants that you really have to watch out for. These guys are solitary ants, around an inch long, and have one of the most painfull stings of all. The other thing is that they are everywhere...at one point Eilis pointed out to Michel that there was one on his leg! Even he was a bit freaked out by this as he has had the dubious pleasure of being stung by one before. After all that excitment we really didn´t need to encounter a rainbow boa (around 1.5 meters long!) on the way back to the lodge but as with most of the large animals in the jungle he was very relaxed and just made his way slowly back into his hole in the wall. The next morning at 5am we went to the oxbow lake to see the giant river otters
After all that its actually really nice to be back in civilization (the jungle is a nice place to visit but not to stay!). I hope all is going well there with everyone and I´ll be back on Tuesday which I´m strangely looking forward too.
Ps I screwed up with the e mail alerts for a few of the blogs so if you think you´ve missed any and feel like reading them just check the list