Edit Blog Post
Published: June 25th 2017
Geo: -13.1811, -69.5819
The power of good photography cannot be underestimated. Some time ago we had seen one photo of a flock of bright red macaws hanging off a cliff face and we had decided that this was something we needed to see live and in person if we were ever in the 'neighbourhood'. All it took was two flights, a bus ride, and a longboat trip down the Tambopata River, and, boom, before you knew it, we were in the neighbourhood. You might think that it was a bit of a chore lugging all of our gear via all of these different modes of transport, but LAN airlines lightened the load by sending my bag to Lima- 5 days in a hot, humid jungle environment with no change of clothes- a great way to get voted "least favourite travel companion" and relegated to sleeping with the jungle pigs. After some discussion 'we' decided that it really wasn't much of an issue because DH's bag showed up so all was right with the world.
Our first night was a pit stop along the river at a very nice jungle lodge- so nice that we couldn't help but think back to our first trip
through the Amazon basin some twenty years ago when we had to chase our dinner (chicken) through the jungle foliage, and sleep on elevated bamboo platforms to avoid snakes (and does a hole in the ground qualify as a bathroom?). Multi-course meals and candle light with wine has certainly made life in the jungle a lot more civilized. In a not-so-civilized move, apparently our relationship has not progressed to the point where DH would share her toothbrush, so, without toiletries, I was forced to brush my teeth with a fuzzy insect on stick.
Next day, after an all day boat ride, we arrived at the Tambopata Research Station- not quite as nice the first lodge but, having been rebuilt just 5 years ago, still pretty nice for a bird research base. Hours in a boat that is effectively a big brother to a canoe, is never about comfort but the thong I borrowed out of DH's backpack was giving me a wedgie that might actually impact our ability to have the kids DH is planning on having eventually. But in a mystery that might rival the Bermuda Triangle, my bag somehow caught up with me deep in the Peruvian jungle??
It's taken me much longer to recover a bag that was lost in Toronto's airport! Couldn't explain it but given the thong debacle, it saved me from using palm leaves as the critical piece of a Tarzan-like ensemble.
Now it was time to get serious about bird watching- specifically macaws and parrots. The Research Center is one of the most remote rainforest lodges in South America, offering travelers like us a wonderful chance to engage with many of the other natural wonders of the Amazon, and at the same time, help protect the adjacent macaw clay lick. I didn't know clay licks were as common as they are, I didn't know that birds as well as animals made use of clay licks, and I didn't know that eating and licking clay was done for both the salt and the antacid effect of clay. We keep traveling like this and we'll be unbeatable at Trivial Pursuit. And just in case we weren't learning enough, one of our travel companions was finishing up his PhD in 'Butterflies' (actually I think it was slightly broader than that, but this guy had an unexplainable passion for butterflies- kind of like many Toronto Maple Leaf fans).
Unfortunately his passion was somewhat contagious and, as a result, I now have far too many photos of butterflies to go with my hundreds of macaw pic's.
The salt lick wasn't quite what you see in the tourism brochures- I suspect that those photos were taken before the salt lick became overgrown, and probably by one of those BBC guys in a blind ten feet from the birds. We were hiding on the other side of the river, and even the rare times the skittish birds started munching on the clay, I was stressing my telephoto lens trying to get a good shot. Nonetheless our morning macaw vigils, and numerous muddy jungle walks made for a fabulous, if somewhat pampered, adventure. It's been a long time between jungle visits and after this one I'm not sure DH will sign up for anymore that require you to catch your own dinner.
Tot: 3.056s; Tpl: 0.021s; cc: 12; qc: 31; dbt: 0.0225s; 3; m:saturn w:www (126.96.36.199); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.3mb