Jungle is Massive

Trip Start May 27, 2011
Trip End Ongoing

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What I did
Monkey spotting

Flag of Bolivia  ,
Sunday, July 10, 2011

So it was the big one, the trip into the jungle. We decided to book an Ecolodge as it seemed 'the right thing to do'. They look after the local village and 'give back' to the community. That and we get to stay in a really awesome wooden lodge with hammocks, mosquito nets & everything!

We traveled up the Amazon River on day one, in a small long boat. As we motored along the edges of the jungle our guide kept stopping the boat and spotting animals hiding in the undergrowth... massively impressed with his tracking skills, it sometimes took us a few minutes to see what he was seeing in plain sight! Especially Capybaras - for rodents the size of sheep they can keep impressively still when they spot gringos.

We stayed only an hour into the jungle on the first night, and visited a local tribe. We even made sugar cane juice with a local tribeswoman (looked horrible, tasted surprisingly nice).

Later we visited a canyon, which was only a human width wide and around 10 metres high. We had to shimmy along slowly, avoiding bats flying overhead and giant spiders and snakes lining the walls... more fun that it sounds - check the giant deadly spider video below. No really, its the size of my hand and can kill a man.

The next day we went further into the jungle - another 3 hours by boat and stayed at the main ecolodge in the primary rainforest. We had a private guide who had definitely not lost his passion and enthusiasm unlike some of the guides we'd met. He took us into the jungle on 2-3 hour walks, staring each trek with the advice to be very quiet (which may of been directed at me really). He then unleashed his monkey calling technique - when we first heard this we struggled not to break into a fit of giggles. We were convinced the monkeys were listening in and were fully aware an adult human was trying to do monkey impressions. However he always found them. He would stop suddenly in front of us, do a little SAS style 'to me' wave of his fingertips and we'd stalk behind him through the undergrowth until we spotted them. Our favourite photo is of a male Howler Monkey with a stick. He's angry at Trevor for taking pictures of his woman! (Monkeys are monogamous. Monkey fact fans.)

The famous leaf-cutter ants were also good fun to watch. Spotting them is easy: you just look for the foot-wide river of leaves floating along the ground. The pieces they carry dwarf the ants themselves.

We were concerned at the beginning of the stay that we wouldn't see any animals as all he'd pointed out were a jungle squirrel and a jungle chicken (putting jungle in front of the word doesn't make it any more exotic). But soon we were spotting monkeys and giant insects like they were going out of fashion. And the noise was incredible too, in the day it was a steady hum of bird calls, rustling, insect buzz... but nothing could of prepared us for how loud the jungle gets at night. Its like one of those ambient jungle moods CDs you can buy in garden centres (so I've heard). Its probably the most relaxing sound to drift off to, unless one of the more unidentifiable sounds starts getting closer... then you're get a bit on edge!

One evening our guide suggested a night walk. After the initial fear (snakes, jaguars, ants the size of cockroaches climbing up your leg in the dark) - we had great fun, but saw nothing but toads and alligators! Although a bat did hit me in the face trying to get to my headtorch (!)

On the final day we went piranha fishing, now we've both had the misfortune to watch Piranha 3D and assumed that they weren't really that big. They're not. They're bigger. Trevor managed to catch one and it damn near pulled him back into the water! We had it next day for lunch and it had the biggest fish bones I've ever seen - you definitely couldn't accidentally choke on one!

We left the amazon after 4 days, very relaxed, happy and covered in sandfly bites (little beggers). I can't say I'm comfortable around spiders now, but after seeing that white one in the canyon I at least have a scary spider bench mark!
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