You Know where you are in the Amazon, when you are woken by howler monkeys – Peru Part 3

13 October 2010

I wake up drowsy eyed feeling someone tugging my mosquito net. “I’m up”, is my jerk reaction phrase. I thought it was the guide who had come in and wake me up for the days activities. I look at my watch. Interesting. It’s only 2am. I lay in bed listening for any noise from the adjoining rooms, but nothing. I realise that it was either my imagination or animal (like a monkey) that tugged at my mosquito net. That’s new way to be woken up, that’s for sure.

Dawn in the Amazon

I went back to sleep, only to wake up at 4am, this time on my own, no imaginary monkeys or guide involved. I get dressed and ready and head to the dining area for breakfast. I’m the first one there (my knack for being early on-time or early has not abandoned me!). A few minutes later I’m joined by the Swiss couple (Their own Prussian roots not abandoning them either!).

After having our delicious breakfast we gather in the reception area where Rodolfo explains what we will be doing today. We will be visiting the Tres Chimbadas Oxbow Lake where will spend some time doing some animal spotting and some Piranha fishing, after which we will go to a Clay Lick to see some Macaws before heading back for some lunch. After lunch we will go for an Ethno-botanical tour.

Dawn on the river

We once again walk the 15 minutes through the forest to where our lancha’s are moored. Half an hour later we were walking through the forest again towards the lake where we would spend the morning animal watching. We climbed onto the makeshift catamaran moored on the shores of the lake.

The sun had been hiding all morning behind the clouds, but when it finally did show, we were privy to an amazing sunrise with the bright orange rays reflecting off the surface of the lake. It was simply beautiful and completely vindicated my decision to come to the Amazon.

Sunrise on the lake

The rest of the morning was spent spotting a variety of different animals some of which I couldn’t photograph due to insufficient zoom on my camera. Though we did get to see some of the prize animals of the regions such as the giant otter (which is part of a family of nine which live in the lake). While we were looking at some birds on the fringes of the lake, Laura, the Australian girl, suddenly blurts out, “Fuck the birds! There’s a caiman!”  which prompted a lot of laughter from us followed by some frantic photographing!

We spent a bit of time fishing for piranhas, however we weren’t very good at it as none in the group caught one, but the two retired South African couples caught a fish each. Only Ivan, the guide of one of the other groups who ended up catching a Pirinha. After two hours on the lake, the sun came out permanently and beated down on us. Feeling the heat, the guides to us back to the mooring point and back to the towards the lodge.

One of the South African women with her catch

Before heading back to the lodge, we walked to a clay lick where some parrots and macaws lick clay (see link for more info). Here, depending on your luck, you can get to see a beautiful array of colourful birds, parrots and macaws. On the walk there we got see some monkeys playing in the trees above us and while we were watching this, some red ants got on to me and started to nibble on me as if I was a human popsicle! Don’t let anyone ever make you think ant don’t bite! Red ants do, and they bite hard!

After feeding the local insect life (Yes I harbour grudges and will kill any ant from this moment onwards!), we went to the clay lick. Unfortunately it was not our day and we only saw some small green parrots which were too far to be photographed. Our misfortune over with, we walked back to the lodge where we were told we had free time until lunch. Most of us, considering the early morning, decided to have a nap.

I woke up for lunch and joined the rest of the lodge residents for lunch in the dining area. After lunch the staff and the residents played a soccer match while some of the others just stayed behind and played cards (the option I took up for lacking of soccer attire and in no mood for more physical exertion).

Rodolfo translating what the Shaman's assistant was saying

The football and chill-out was followed by a short boat trip to the Centro Ñape. The Centro Ñape is a communal organization that produces medicines out of forest plants and administers them to patients who choose their little clinic. They have produced a trail which explains the different medicinal (and other) uses of selected plants. It was nice trail and interesting to see how local communities used their surroundings to heal themselves. One of the funniest plant and mixtures they make is a sort of love potion. Hearing the shamans assistant explaining how it works and how to apply it was quite funny and had me in stitches. At the end of the trail, they gave us a taste of some of the medicines which almost always contained Pisco, a Peruvian liquor.

Having a taste of the 'medicine'

With the trail over, we headed back to the lodge for our final dinner. As always dinner was great and after dinner, the group decided to stay back and play some cards after  the optional night walk which at first I was keen on, but the mention of a tarantula put me off that (being an Arachnophobe is not great for night time forest walks!). So in the end I stayed behind with some of the other arachnophobes until the rest of the folks came back from the walk. As a special treat, I brought out the shisha and we sat around the table playing cards and having shisha by candle light and the noises of the rainforest as our soundtrack.

Another fantastic day in the Amazon, which I was well and truly falling in love with.

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