Sunday, June 1, 2014

Amazon Jungle

We went on a tour to the Amazon Jungle, partly for the adventure and partly for me to see where Daniel had been running the previous week. The drive to the jungle took us through some Andean towns (the highest at 4,200m!) and past the pre-Inca burial site of the Lupaca people. We descended into the Cloud Forest in Parque Nacional Manu and I finally got a small taste of the heat and humidity which Daniel experienced.

Nina Marca - the place of fire: a 7th century burial site

The aptly-named Cloud Forest

The clouds feed all the small waterfalls and streams in this part of the jungle

When we entered the forest, we started looking out for jungle wildlife. Our guide - appropriately named Darwin - spotted some beautiful exotic birds and hauled out his telescope and bird book for us to identify the birds. We had a great sighting of Peru's national bird, the Andean Cock-of-the-rock. After a long day winding down into the forest, we had to cross a river on a zipline to get to our lodge for the first night.

Zipline across the Pillcomayo River

Lodge 1 - Ticary

On our second day we stopped at an animal rehabilitation centre which rescues jungle animals which have been held in captivity by the local people. We saw some very cute monkeys, a coati, wild pigs, parrots, a turtle and a caiman. Later we caught a boat up the Madre de Dios river, which is a tributary of the great Amazon River. We had a chance to swim in the river (no piranhas!) and float downstream to a small beach where we had lunch.

A very colourful macaw in the rehabilitation centre

Daniel tickling Rosita

Floating down a river in the jungle!

Our lodge for the second night - Paititi - was quite far downstream and we had to wade across part of the river in our gumboots because the level of the river was too low for the boat to get closer. From there we went on an adventure into the jungle to a small oxbow lake which we crossed on a crude balsa wood raft. The bird life around the lake was incredible and we added several new species to our list. We were also lucky enough to see some Dusky Titi Monkeys, one of the more timid species in the jungle.

Our balsa raft

On our last day in the rain forest, we went to the clay lick, a 50m high clay bank which attracts many of the parrots, macaws and parakeets in the jungle for their daily mineral fix. It was a quiet morning when we went, but we saw a few species between the trees. We had a lovely final breakfast on the banks of the river before heading back to civilisation.

On the banks of the Madre de Dios River

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