Playing Monkey

A bird's eye view of the rainforest canopy.

A bird’s eye view of the rainforest canopy.

Be honest, who does not miss climbing trees as you did when you were a child?  Yes, we can still climb a tree when we want to and some of us still do, but somehow most of us just don’t seem to get round to it.  Then there is the ultimate dream, at least for myself, to climb a gigantic tree in the Amazon, with the promise of a sweet reward of a magical forest canopy vista when you reach the top.  Just imagine my elation when Hugo (pronounced oe-go) offered to take Daniël and myself tree climbing.  What a privilege!  Hugo is one of the professional tree climbers for the research group, Amizonica, here to investigate the carbon function of the rainforest.  There is a concern that the rainforest will in future release more carbon into the air than what it absorbs due to the change of climate conditions and the research group is here to do all kinds of scientificcy tests to investigate this potential issue. Continue reading

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Ayahuasca

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I have a problem; I suffer from FOMO (The fear of missing out).  Curiosity of the unknown; the other side; that which others do; that which your friends have warned you about and at the same time raved about… when can I try it, should I try it, take the leap?  Should I choose to ignore the warning behind the use of something that people claim will “open” your mind to other dimensions; enable you to use your brain to its full capacity; something that can reveal all life’s truths to you, even cure you of addiction?  A pure South American rainforest experience; one everyone should try if they really want to experience the culture and spirit of South America.  What can possibly go wrong?  Surely, my friend exaggerated when she said she experienced extreme paranoia attacks and severe depression for two years after she tried it? Continue reading

Lake Cocococha

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The dilapidated bird hide on Lake Cocococha.

The rainforest decided to give us a reprieve from the rain for a change, so we grabbed the opportunity to set out to Lake Cocococha with our sleeping bags and hammocks.  Since arriving in Peru, Daniël and I have been looking forward to see this oxbow lake for ourselves.  Oxbow lakes form through fluid dynamics and erosion in the flat Amazon.  The meander or bend in a river is created when the fast flowing water on the outer bend erodes the bank on that side while the slower flowing water on the inside bend of the river deposits sand and soil expanding the bank.  The sedimentation eventually cuts off the bended section of the river as the river follows a new path, creating a free-standing body of water.  In time, the lake stabilises and forms a whole new ecosystem where the water is clear and slow moving, providing the perfect habitat for Black Caiman, Giant River Otters, many species of fish and water birds. Continue reading

Stormy Surprise

A storm approaching.

A storm approaching.

We have been trying to go to Lake Cocococha for nearly three days now without any success.  Every time we are ready to set off to the lake to do the bimonthly caiman search, heavy rain and wind prevents us to do so!  Rain is part of the Amazon experience and usually we won’t mind it, but when wind comes into play, it becomes a whole new ball game. Continue reading

Roughing it in the Jungle

Tambopata River

Tambopata River

So, yesterday the manager, the barman and the storeman decided to all leave for Puerto Maldonado, taking the recently broken generator with them.  They were going to take the water pump as well (after it “drowned” during the weekend’s flooding) but when Topher (the husband of one of the visiting researchers) got the thing working, they decided to leave it behind.  Unfortunately not long after they left, the pump broke again, leaving us without water and power.  With the other three resident naturalist also in town, this place is now a ghost town (except for the 28 researchers living on the outskirts of the property which mostly keeps to themselves) with no guests and no staff except for two 18 year old boys that like to get high and drink between their chores. Continue reading

Food and Company

Daniel, Arana and Stafan having fun on a rusty tuk-tuk

Daniel, Arana and Stefan having fun on a rusty tuk-tuk

The best thing about staying in the Tambopata Rainforest is the people and the food.  The people are friendly and very willing to teach you about their environment and their language.  They LOVE being active, so we play soccer and volleyball every afternoon until dark and sometimes even then.  Try hitting a volleyball when you cannot even see your hands!  The laughs are endless, making up for the fact that we cannot understand each other. After every evening of playing volleyball, you are covered in sweat, mosquito and sandfly bites and if you’re really unlucky, chiggers – small mites that burrow under your skin where they conveniently feast on your skin for the next few weeks. Let the Chinese torture commence! Continue reading

Peruvian flights and everything nice…

The Andes Mountains as seen from the airplane

The Andes Mountains as seen from the airplane.

Our trip to Puerto Maldonado (the closest town to the lodge where we are staying) was eventful.  We arrived at the Lima airport only to be told that they sold our seats!  I threw a bit of a tantrum after which we were given seats on another flight 4 hours later with complementary McDonalds – how delightful!  We moved to the ticket line to collect our tickets and were told we were in the wrong row!  I completely lost it and ended up arguing my way onto an earlier flight via Cusco – sorry Daniël, no McDonalds for you! Continue reading