Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Piranhas, Giant Otters, Caimans and giant snakes!!!

We woke up today, Tuesday around 4 am, got ready went for some breakfast and heading out on our next big day. Today, we went back to the river, and took the boat upstream about 30 minutes to this area of the jungle which has a lake. We hiked for another 30 minutes to get to the lake called Tres Chimbadas Oxbow Lake. Here we took a catamaran, or really, a large piece of wood floating on the lake. There were about 10 people in total on the boat with guides. We quickly saw a caiman, which is an alligator in the Amazon. We saw tons of birds from Macaws, Parrots, etc. We were in search of giant lake otters, which are over 6 feet long. We spotted them from far away, and brought the boat close to shore. Everyone had to remain super quiet and still, since it looked like the otters were working their way down the shore to where we were. After about 20 minutes the otter family were right near our boat, about 10 meters away. I was able to film them for a good 5 minutes, while they were feeding and making these really cool noises, which kind of sound like a sea lion.

After this, we went fishing, with a simple branch or stick, line and small hook tipped with a piece a raw meat. Aneta first tried and within 1 minute hooked a really nice sized piranha. After taking some pics, our guide showed us how sharp their teeth are. He got a leaf, and put it near its mouth, and the piranha took a bit, taking a clean piece of leaf off. I was next, and got one as well, which was much smaller than Aneta´s. Damn her!! Anyway, Aneta did catch another one...they are so aggressive, that once you put something in the water, they go mental on it.

After fishing for awhile, and wishing I had brought a small packable fishing road, since the tree branch rod wasn't the best option, we heading around the lake, with one of the natives of the area, paddling the boat from behind. At this point we spotted much more wildlife including many more birds. Our guide actually saw a large eagle come down and snatch a monkey from the jungle. He also spotted a 3 toed sloth monkey hanging over a branch on the shore. We were able to get really close to it, and it was barely moving. They aren't the most aggressive monkey, hence the name sloth. Coming around the lake, we also spotted a large caiman, and I mean large. The head was probably the same size of my upper torso.

We headed back to the trail, to hike back to the boat, and again, spotted a lot of different wildlife in the area. We took the boat back to the lodge, for about a 10 minute break, before heading out to a blind which overlooks a bird claylick. Claylicks are areas where the clay has a lot of minerals and vitamins, and the birds come down to feed on these things. The blind was this really cool hut with a bunch of viewing holes. We didn't have the luck of seeing any birds, but we did spot a large 3-4 metre snake about 5 metres in front of us. Again, we got some good pics and also got a good video of it. Aneta was freaking out about it....pretty funny.

We heading back for some lunch. The food at the lodge was really amazing, all fresh local things. It was awesome and tasted so natural.

In the afternoon we went to a shaman in the area. He showed us some natural Amazon medicines, everything from ayahuasca which is a powerful hallucinogenic plant to para para, which is a natural Viagra drug. We were able to try some of the medicines, and the shaman showed us around the entire garden. They also painted my face with this natural paint, which is what some of the indigenous people do for ceremonies.

After this we went back to the lodge for some dinner and to relax. About an hour after dinner, we went on a night walk on some trails in the area. We spotted everything from caimans, spiders, snakes, to giant ants. We also heard many night monkeys, but were unable to spot them with the flashlights. Our guide made us turn off all our headlamps and flashlights, and let me tell you, I have never seen darkness so dark. I mean, the canopy is so thick, that you can´t see the sky from the bottom of the jungle, so once the lights went off, the lights were off. Blackness, darkness like no other. This with all the sounds of the jungle is really a scary thing. Imagine getting lost or having your flashlight batteries run out...

We went back to the lodge, and hung out a bit before going back to the room. While Aneta was lying down in the hammock in the room, facing the open wall, we saw a monkey climbing the tree right in front of her...pretty cool.

We went to sleep, with the sounds of the jungle all around us. Except tonight, things got out of control. It must have been a group of monkeys, screwing around with us all night. They were making so much noise, and I mean, noise right beside the open wall. Kind of freaky!!! Combine that with the sound of bats flying around every 2 minutes really made it feel like we were in the middle of nowhere.

At about midnight, we were woke up to thunder and a rain storm like no other. It must have rain hard for like 2 hours straight. We found out later when we woke up in the morning, that the heavy rain brought down the thatched roof where the guides and researchers sleep.

I was going to go early in the morning, to the blind, to see if I could see any parrots or macaws, but the heavy rain and showers in the morning cancelled this hike.

We relaxed a little in the morning, before heading back on the boat, down stream on the Rio Tambopata, back to Puerto Maldonado. Picked up our backpacks for the airport, and took a flight back to Lima.

Tomorrow, we are heading south of Lima for some surfing...

Surf´s up amigo!!!

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