Another early start this morning. This time, when entering the bathroom I noticed something larger moving out of the corner of my eye. A frog (about the size if my fist) seemed surprised that I was getting up so early and clambered clumsily along the bamboo wall. It was no bother to me, as I was in a rush to get out and meet our group. Today we are not having breakfast until later, so we can make our way to the rainforest canopy tower and see the sun rise over the top of the rainforest.
The canopy observation tower is basically some scaffolding that stands about 30 metres high which is just about high enough to see over the rainforest canopy. You realise just how vast and dense the rainforest is when you can see for miles. It was a beautiful sight, as was watching the sun (already rising rapidly by the time we got to the top) rise majestically on the horizon.
The point of being up there, as well as the view and the sun rise, was to do some further bird and animal spotting. At first the only thing any of us were spotting were wasps. Hundreds of them swarming around the tower from top to bottom. So much so, I assumed a nest was up there, but Yuri informed us that the wasps (and other flying insects) that were up there were there for the salt. Sweaty tourist hands went up and down the tower everyday leaving some much needed salt deposits for the insects. And, of course, if the source of the salt is up there then why not go straight to the source? And so it became a bit of an endurance test to see if you could allow the insects to fly around and possibly land on you. Natural instinct is to swerve and avoid them or even swat at them, but the last thing anyone wants as a souvenir is a massive wasp sting. We all showed tremendous restraint and came away unscathed, although feeling very grubby and itchy.
I am pretty useless as spotting birds or animals, but I thought I had an absolute cracker in my sights. The previous day Yuri had shown us an owl that disguises itself as a broken branch of a tree during the day. It does it so well that it took a high powered view through a telescope for us to believe that it was a bird and not the tree. Well, I had one in my sights and I convinced the American couple I had spotted it too. I asked Yuri for the final verdict and he said “Yes!” I celebrated my find until Yuri finished his sentence with “it is a tree”. Oh well, maybe we’ll have better luck elsewhere and we certainly did!
We saw Toucans, parrots and macaws and then someone spotted a huge bird on the wing. Yuri was very excited and confirmed it was a Harpy Eagle. We trained our sights on it and I have to say it’s the biggest bird I have seen in flight – it was huge! Yuri said that a young one still occasionally visited it’s old nest and he thought it might be that one, but he said it is so rare to see one, the last time one was seen around here was in May. We had been very lucky and it certainly beat my tree branch!
Down from the canopy and heading back along the trail we saw a group of Dusky Titi Monkeys, also making their way down having slept high in the trees. That’s the great thing about being here is that a short walk along a trail (or a trip to the bathroom) can be interrupted by an impromptu wildlife show.
Back for breakfast and some relaxation time in my hammock. We are going to a mammal clay lick at 10am where we hope to see wild pigs, deer and possibly a Jaguar or Puma (highly unlikely but not unheard of).
The mammal clay lick didn’t turn out as we had hoped in that no mammals came to it at all. We did see birds in the trees surrounding the hide though and, as it is nature and a very big rainforest you have to accept that you won’t always see what you would hope rather than feel short changed.
On the way we did see a raccoon like animal that was quite rare, so that was fortunate. Yuri then lured another tarantula out to meet us, this time it was at head height from a hole in a tree above the trail which was nice! Yuri also advised us, if we ever got lost to eat ants and bugs and wait by a tree – great advice, I hope he wasn’t trying to tell us something. I suggested that I would eat all the fungi I could find and “trip” my way out and Yuri pointed out I would probably die. Speaking of getting lost and dying: we went off trail for a few yards whilst Yuri showed us something and when we turned to face the trail (a reasonably well worn path) we could not see it. Of course, Yuri knew where it was, but had we stumbled off the trail and tried to find our way back and gone wrong, we would be entering a whole world of pain. And this was in broad daylight!
Yuri also showed us a plant that could be used as an antidote to a bite from a Fer de Lance snake, after which I promptly stepped in a hole filled with leaves (a great snake hideout) and we all thought we were going to have to use that plant on me straight away!
After lunch we had an excursion that hadn’t really floated any of our boats. We were going to visit a farm across the river. It was interesting enough though and I even engaged Yuri in a conversation about crop rotation (and they said that what you learn in GCSE Geography has nothing to do with real life…it only took me almost 20 years to get to use it). But, as we spoke thunder began to rattle around us and sure enough the heavens soon opened. This was a proper tropical downpour. It was like someone had turned on a tap. We sheltered in one of the farm houses and waited for it to pass. As the water started to build up around us, we realised that waiting it out was not such a good idea, especially as it was also getting dark, so we made a break for the boat. A very muddy and slippery path led us back to the boat and as we reached the riverbank I fell onto the mud where the boat was moored. I opted for a one-knee drop and two flat hands in the mud, looking as though I was leaving my imprint outside Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood. Once all aboard we went back across and already swelling river and made the arduous trek back to the lodge against a current of rainwater coming the other way. In some places the water was deep enough to go over the tops of boots and by the time I reached the lodge I was soaked through to the skin despite having my raincoat on.
I took of my coat and boots and headed into the shelter of the lodge and to my room to get changed. Dried off and ready to head back to the bar I donned one of my ponchos and got to the bar area nice and dry. I caught up with writing my blog, had some dinner and sat with the American couple chatting and drinking. It would be the last time I see them as they are getting an earlier boat out than me in the morning – such a nice couple. We bid each other a very fond farewell. Hard to believe this is my last night in the jungle.