Saturday, October 19, 2019

Amazon and Awesome Macaws



There were eight of us that left Puerto  Maldonado for the Amazon; a newly married couple from Vancouver, a woman from Italy,  a man from Peru, a couple from Spain and us makes eight.

We drove for over an hour on paved and then dirt roads and then took a boat down the Tambopata River to our accomodations- the Collpa Tambopata Inn.

The Tambopta River is one of the tributaries that eventually flows into the Amazon River so is part of the Amazon basin.


Everything is open air in this lodge. From the dining area we could watch all kinds of birds and parrots in the trees...and checking out the lodge.


One small, young Macaw decided to hang around the dining area as lunch was being served. Cheeky bird, it was even hopping along the tables until it was chased away.


After lunch we had relaxation time in the hammocks in front of our rooms; perfect for watching birds, reading a book, writing or having a snooze. The jungle around us is filled with all kinds of sounds. This is fabulous.


Jesus led us on our first activity which was a 90 minute jungle walk. I should mention that Jesus was our guide and not that other well known fellow, although we would have happily followed him into the jungle as well. We were taught about many medicinal plants and saw the leaf ant highways and colonies. We didn't see any animals. Animal sightings are hit and miss.

One thing I know for sure is that hot and steamy is the perfect way to describe the jungle.

After the hike I decided to rest in the hammock again and watch the Orienda birds that are nesting in a nearby tree. There is also a big green bug that keeps hanging around my hammock.


 Once again, Jesus was our guide on a night boat ride at 6:20pm. He made sure that nobody turned on their flashlights or phones once we got in the boat. The stars were so vibrant and I could clearly see the Milky Way. John saw two shooting stars and in the distance was the flash of lightning from far away thunderstorms. Every now and then the smell of jasmine wafted by on the breeze. 

As the boat moved down the river, Jesus would flash his light along the shoreline. On the shore Jesus spotted the eyes of a caiman as it hid in the grass. Next thing we know, Jesus jumps out of the boat, grabs the unsuspecting reptile and brings it into the boat so that we could touch it and see it up close. After depositing it back on shore, the caiman quickly ran into the water and swam off.


Jesus told us that it is hard to see animals in the jungle because every animal has at least two or three predators so their numbers are limited and they have huge territories as water can be found everywhere. The locals also eat the animals. He said caiman tastes like rubbery fish...no wonder the beast ran away so quickly upon release.

We saw a possum about to swim across the river, but he changed his mind and slipped back into the jungle when he came under the spotlight.

I could barely keep my eyes open over dinner. We went straight to bed when we finished eating since we had to get up at 4am the next morning. I fell asleep to the sounds of the jungle
...and people still chatting in the dining area. I do love a jungle lodge.


****

Since we only have electricity between 5-10pm, I had to shower by flashlight when I got up at 4am.

It was dark when five of us plus Kevin, our guide and our boat driver descended all the stairs to the dock. The day dawned as we travelled for an hour to the parrot mineral licks. We passed a caiman eating his breakfast of fish. Another caiman slipped into the water as we reached the landing.

We walked through jungle to get to the licks. We could hear distant squawks and screams upon a background hum of thousands of insects. John and I were not wearing bug spray because someone (who will remain nameless) left it in Canada.

Actually John and I didn't seem to be bothered by the bugs as much as others, however I was bitten once and John twice by some kind of wasp.


The Macaws started arriving slowly to the trees around the licks. The macaws would either travel in pairs, or in threes and fours (parents with children). Sometimes you would see one macaw fly in on his own. The licks have two purposes for the birds, the first to get minerals and the second to find a mate; it's the bird version of a pick up bar.


A wild Turkey was the only one for the longest time eating at the licks. We watched other parrots such as the mealy parrot in the trees.


Over a few hours, the scarlet and blue and gold macaws sat in the trees closer and closer to the licks. Finally, one got onto the licks and started eating. Soon there were many, many macaws there. After awhile, something would spook them, and they would all fly off en mass, screaming loudly.


This happened a few times and finally most of them left with only a few remaining. Their morning feeding was over and it was time for us to head back.

We did spot about twenty macaws at a smaller salt lick on our way back to the lodge.

I was bitten behind my knee by a big bug (wasp, bee?) and it really hurt. John was bitten twice as well. It has gotten more painful and it hurts to straighten my leg.

We had a few hours to relax in our hammocks before lunch. Lunch was delicious, I especially enjoyed the pumpkin mashed with cheese, whole fava beans and cilantro. 

After lunch I watched a blue headed parrot until it was time to go. Just as soon as we started to leave, a huge thunder and lightning storm hit and the rain pelted down. Nothing like travellingng down a river during a thunder and lightning storm in a metal boat.


We are now driving back to Puerto Maldonado over gravel roads. The rain is still coming down.



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