Last night was our first jungle night walk. In the blurb, there are words about – how biological activity differs between night and day, and the mystery of the animal activity that awakens in the rainforest after dark…. but actually, I think it’s all just a test of a person’s level of scaredy-cat-ness.
It appears that mine is quite high. We see two tarantulas, a scorpion (who btw jump), a funnel web spider (second deadliest spider in the world), lots of leaf cutter ants, insects and some beautifully peaceful sleeping dragonflies and butterflies.
Happy when it’s all over, I find myself batting away imaginary creepy crawlies from my head for the next hour.
Today, right after discovering a frog by my shoes, we take a thirty minute boat ride to Lake Sandoval in the Tambopata National Reserve. It’s a 3km walk to reach the lake. It’s a beautiful secondary jungle and there are animal and bird noises everywhere. We’re learning to stop when we hear a branch snap to assess what it could be – a monkey, a macaw or a jaguar (only kidding). Our guide Checa has the most extraordinary ability to spot things, tiny things, amazing things, camouflaged things…. things we absolutely would have walked right past.
We see huge termite nests, butterflies, sleeping bats, monkeys, birds, caterpillars, beautiful macaws, he even entices a tarantula from its nest with a sharp blade of grass. Our most spectacular experience was being caught in the middle of three different groups of Red Howling Monkeys in a territorial howl off. They were in battle, but not one where they are in combat, this battle is won or lost on the volume of their howl. Whichever group loses… will simply retreat back to their territory.
It was incredible and really loud.
Lake Sandoval itself is beautifully calm and peppered with fairytale-worthy-lily-pads. We are in wooden canoes and paddle out to watch giant river otters fishing for their young.
It’s beautiful and calm. All until… a small toilet emergency is required in the middle of the lake. Not ideal when you’re sat with other guests and have heard one too many stories about penis fish…. so creatively we find a new use for the Katmandu dry bag we’ve been carrying around for weeks.
Back at our jungle base camp (ahem… I mean our swish resort) armed police arrive by boat just as we’re off on our final trip of the day. The leader asks to see the manager while some remain in the boat to man the jetty. Earlier that morning we had heard a big explosion and we’d assumed it was gold mine related. It was, but it wasn’t the gold miners doing the exploding… it was the police. They had discovered the mine we saw yesterday and blew up the equipment. Apparently the owner of the equipment will be jailed and fined and the workers will also receive a custodial sentence…. but first they have to catch them. They’ve been tipped off that they might be hiding on Inkaterra’s land and have come to search the place. These police are from the ‘hard-as-nails’ variety and however hard we try, we only manage to get one of them to smile (and show us his gun).
We finish the day on top of the jungle…. literally. We walk through the treetops of the giant Amazon basin, across hanging bridges…. only two at a time. They are more difficult (and higher) than they look.