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Jungle diaries day 2 – 4th May 2008

May 25, 2008

Once the kids were quiet I slept well and was woken at 4-20 am by Harry’s dulcet tones.  Dressing and packing by candlelight felt odd for some reason – it had seemed OK the previous night, but somehow candles in the morning are wrong!

 

Breakfast was a buffet, with a choice of scrambled eggs, yucca chips, fruit, yoghurt, bread etc. and VERY strong coffee (later I learned that it was a type of coffee essence and you’re supposed to mix it about half and half with water)!  We left our bags in the bar and headed off to an oxbow lake (memories of GCSE geography came flooding back!) where a family of giant river otters breed every year.

 

I can’t quite put into words the sight of the sun rising over the Amazonian jungle – it was awesome!  It definitely made getting up at 0420 worth while!  We took a boat about 15 mins upriver from the lodge and moored against a set of rickety wooden steps that looked like they led nowhere (which was broadly speaking true…) and began to walk towards the lake.  Walking through the rainforest early in the morning was very peaceful (the kids were too tired to ruin it by talking yet!) and after about 30 mins we reached the lake.  It is one of the most peaceful places I have ever been to! We stepped on board our viewing boat and glided out onto the lake.  The only sound the splash of the paddle, the creak of the boat and the spray of repellent cans as the kids doused themselves in poison!  Sadly we didn’t spot any otters (I may have glimpsed one for a fraction of a second, but I couldn’t be sure) but we did see heaps of birds, insects, fish (we caught some piranha when the kids got bored of looking at birds).  The cutest things by far were the bats we found sleeping on a tree trunk overhanging the water.

 

The journey back was a treat – we couldn’t get the boat back to the launch as the wind was against us, so in the end the guides pulled up to the bank, rigged the oar so it made a gangway to shore and made our way back to the river through the jungle with our guides cutting the trail with machetes as we went!  Proper jungle experience!

 

It was now nearly 10am and we should have been back at the lodge at 9!  Consequently we arrived back at the river boat to find the other half of the group (who had been up to the canopy tower close to the lodge) waiting for us and all of our things packed onto the boat, along with a welcome snack each.  We then began the MAMMOTH journey up river to the Tambopata Research Centre lodge.  We saw more wildlife on the way (including caiman) and made a couple of stops at other lodges to use their (variable) facilities.  At 1pm we were served lunch, again wrapped in leaves, this time of lomo saltado (with rice and chips of course – Peruvians don’t consider it a meal unless it contains 2 large helpings of complex carbohydrates!).

 

The sights were spectacular as we meandered upriver – constantly changing scenery and plenty of birds, but the journey was a little erratic – the river is wide, fairly shallow in places, quite fast flowing and after the floods last week, full of submerged rocks, trees, new sandbanks etc. to navigate around.  The friaje is causing a lot of the wildlife to stay at home in bed, so I took the opportunity, as did many of the kids, to have a nap. I hope I didn’t miss anything!

 

12 hours after I got up and we are STILL on the boat.  The mountains we flew over yesterday have come into view, but a distance we flew over in less than 30 mins yesterday has so far taken 6 hours by boat and we may still have another 2 hours left to go!  I’m not sure my bum can cope – I rarely sit for this long!

 

We arrived at dusk – the lodge is great, I’ve got a double room to myself with a view towards the kitchen and rainforest!  The view of the sky through the trees is mesmerising, even through the mosquito net.

 

By the time we’d met, gone through the rules, found out about the leishmaniasis risk in the area, eaten, washed up (normal tourists don’t do that obviously, but it’s good for the kids to have to look after their own mess for a change!) had a talk about the macaw project, and made the kids decide on their own experimental design project it was 2230, and with another 0430 start I went straight to sleep!

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