Thursday, July 10, 2008Up at 5:00 AM, but didn’t wake Brynne until 5:25 for 5:30 breakfast! Had to get going because we had reservations for the catamaran from 7:00 to 9:00 AM at Cocha Salvador.
When we got to our boat, the river water level was higher, coming up to the bottom step in the riverbank.
|Higher water level|
|Termite nest with termite tunnels up the trunk|
|Odd place for a termite nest|
|Cocha salvador sign|
|Rob, Jan, and Brynne on the catamaran|
|Double duty for the boat crew|
|Fasciated Tiger-Heron with an eel,|
|Peruvian/Black Spider Monkeys,|
There were many Black Caimans and we saw one chase another from his territory.
We rowed as far as permitted (a giant kapok tree marked the spot), but drifted a bit closer to an otter family at the far end of the lake.
Through binoculars we saw a large otter eating a fish, and we heard the pups constantly barking. Rob said last year this family of otters had 3 pups, and now they had 4 youngsters!
|Jan & Kirby|
|Brynne and Tamiko|
|Prickly pear innards|
|Whole prickly pear fruit|
|Mango juice box|
|Another Black Caiman|
|Orinoco Goose family|
We then saw a Capybara complacently sitting at the river’s edge, with Giant Cowbirds sitting on his head. He remained sitting as we brought the boat closer. Also saw two caimans waiting for perhaps a capybara dinner.
|Rufino, the pilot alone at the back of the boat|
|Rob's photo on a t-shirt|
Reached the point where the muddy Manu River meets the clear Alto Madre de Dios, and they become the Rio de la Madre de Dios. Blends into a muddy color!
|Muddy Manu River meets the clear Alto Madre de Dios|
|Boca Manu village|
|Removing the spare motor|
Then it was a mere 1½ hours to the Manu Wildlife Center.
Passed several log jams, where you could see how loops of the river would be blocked off to form the ox-bow lakes.
|Frida in the rafters|
|Frida between Jan & Kirby|
|Frida sniffs the dessert|
|Frida helps herself|
|Frida and Brynne|
|Beds with mosquito nets|
|Desk and "wardrobe"|
|Our own bathroom|
Although we had just eaten, we returned to the dining hall to get boxed meals to take with us to the Tapir Lick, and left at 4:30 PM to start the long hike of 3 km/nearly 2 miles. Rob and Percy could hear peccaries in the jungle, but they must have been downwind from us! The trail was really wet with puddles that we tried to walk around. Finally we arrived in the dark at a covered boardwalk that raised us up onto an elevated platform, lined with mattress pads covered by mosquito netting. It sounded like most of the mattresses were occupied, so Brynne and I were squeezed into a single spot, and had to spoon while waiting for tapirs. We shared one tiny pillow. We weren’t hungry enough to eat dinner, so we tried to snooze, and were promised we would be wakened if and when a Brazilian Tapir appeared. We later learned that Jan & Kirby had a double mattress, and that the one on the other side of them was empty. As it was, we tried not to move because we were hot and sweaty from the hike, and we wanted to be very quiet.
We didn’t have to be awakened, because we could hear the tapir coming! Snorts and grunts along with crashing footsteps in the undergrowth, the largest land mammal in South America trundled into the area below us, and started slurping at the clay lick. (They actually scrape at the clay with their teeth, but much of it is underwater. The clay is an alkaloid complement for their diets to balance the toxin in plant leaves.) A tapir hadn’t appeared in the last three nights because of rain, and it was feared that maybe the moon was too bright tonight. But here he was! The staff shined an infrared light on the beast, and we had a perfect vantage point as we peeked from beneath the mosquito netting. The tapir then left, walking out right beneath us.
Had a flashlight hike on the way back and Brynne spotted a tiny flesh-colored snake at the same time Percy found a tailless whip scorpion. Then Brynne found a tiny frog with white legs
|a Rainbow Katydid,|
Kerosene lamps lit the path, with the lamps made from all types of glass jars and bottles.