June 23, 2008
6-23-08 – Dancing Monkeys and Hammock Dreams
We were told that we would wake up to the sounds of Howler monkeys this morning, but alas, at 5:00 am, they were not awake yet! We, however, had a busy day ahead of us, so breakfast was served at 5:40 and off in the boat we went!
Our first stop of the day was Sandover Island, where we hiked 5K
into the jungle, stopping to look at various animals, bugs and birds. Albert is our guide, and he is a soft spoken, handsome young man who was born here in the jungle. He is incredible! We call him the “Jungle Whisperer” and tell him that he needs his own television show. He knows every little thing about life in the jungle and he is so excited about everything that you can’t help but feel the same way. He showed us palm trees that walk and ants that kill all plant life around their host tree. It was very cool!
At the end of our hike, we came to a canal with a long, thin, very tippy looking boat, and in we went. We spent the next couple of hours looking for caiman (alligators that are native to this area and yes, we saw one) and exotic birds.
This place is an absolute heaven for bird watchers. They atr every shape, size and color and have names like “Donkey bird” and ” Stinky Chicken”.
After turning the lake inside out looking for cool stuff, we hiked back to our original starting place. On the way, we saw the coolest thing! An anteater!! He was so neat and we watched him climb around the tree for awhile, eating termites. This is definitely something I don’t see everyday in the suburbs of Atlanta! We boated back for lunch and before I knew it, I was waking up to the sounds of my own snoring as I swung in a hammock.
Later in the afternoon, we boarded our trusty boat and headed off to “Monkey Island”. We ran the boat up on a beach and walked across the mud flats and into the jungle. This is the thickest, greenest jungle I have seen yet. It is lush and beautiful and as we waded through waist-high reeds, I felt like I was truly in the Amazon.
All of the sudden, Albert held up his hand, shhh-ed us and pointed. Capucian monkeys were jumping from limb to limb toward us. I was completely captivated! Albert threw bananas to the alpha male and periodically asked us to back up when the monkeys showed aggression. All three of the guides had giant sticks and Albert had a machete, so I knew that these animals were to be respected. We watched them for a long time before the sun started going down. We hiked back through the jungle with parakeets and macaws singing in the twilight, as the monkeys went off to sleep in the canopy.
We boarded the boat once again and went off in search of White Caiman. These alligators can be very small, (2-3 feet long) or very big, (12 feet long!). It is pitch black on the river and our boat is equiped with a spotlight that they hook up to a car battery. Albert sweeps the light along the banks of the river in the brush looking for Caiman.
Sure enough, we see several during the evening, sometimes even running up into the brush to get closer. They are very cool to see and don’t seem scared of us or the light at all.
The day ended with a slow boat ride back to the lodge. It is very dark on the river, and with the soft thrum of the engine, I could be asleep in seconds. Tomorrow we leave the jungle and head back to Cuzco for one final time. I did not find Tarzan here, but fell in love with the jungle nontheless.
Love, Anna aka MudButt