Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Amazon!

A definite must-do on my list was going into the Amazon rainforest. After watching all those Discovery specials I just had to check the place out. And hello, Fern Gully anyone?? So, I booked a 4d/3n tour of Cuyabeno, in the northeast corner, very close to the Columbian border.

The Amazon did not disappoint! It was amazing, bugs, rodents, spiders, and all!!
First off, theme songs: All good adventures must have theme songs! The choice here was an obvious one! One of the animals we were hoping to see was an anaconda. So, naturally we thought of....
My anaconda don't want none unless you got buns hun!! Thankfully there were other Americans on this tour who got the joke!

Good news kids, all those Discovery specials were right, the Amazon really does look just like you think it does. Yet, in person it's so much more. It's stunning, as your boat carefully winds through the lush green rainforest. The forest is constantly alive and noisy with birds, monkeys, and insects.

On our way to the lodge we witnessed a monkey crossing. There are 4 types of monkeys in the area we were in and the squirrel monkeys decided to give us a proper monkey greeting. These monkeys live in groups of 100-200 monkeys and can travel up too 1,000 meters a day through the forest. They were crossing, no jumping, across the river via some trees that were close. We watched, in rapture as the monkeys one by one leaped from branch to branch.

Other highlights included piranha fishing. Those little beasts are sneaky fellows. They are very adapt at prying the meat off the hook without you knowing it. I caught a catfish, not a piranha, so a successful fishing expedition, but not quite as cool as a piranha.

Caiman's (a type of crocodile) live in this river system. One likes to hang out nearby a lodge in the laguna. We paid him a visit one afternoon with some chicken fat to entice him out. The caiman played along and gave us tourists quite the show! He was so close to the boat, happily munching on chicken bones. It's creepy how still they remain, until wham! they lunge faster than you can image that beast to move and grab their prey. We named him Kitty.

Quote of the trip. Every day, multiple times a day we had the opportunity to go swimming. I know, you're thinking, but Clarissa, you just told us all about caiman's and piranha' s and you went the same water??? The guide said it was fine and safe and he totally encouraged it! The last night a few of us are enjoying a sunset swim, cooling off from the intense humidity, and we asked why the guide never went swimming. His reply "oh you have no idea what could be in that water". OMGgggggg I am getting out of the water right now!!! But you said it's safe?!??!! It is, but still, you just don't know. Again, ommmgggggggg.

The stars in the Amazon are incredible. Some of the best I have seen. Every night we would take a sunset boat ride and watch the stars slowly emerge.
The lodge we stayed at is very Eco-friendly. The Cuyabeno area is a protected reserve, sadly not all of the rainforest is and most governments are not interested in protecting this important environmental area.

I did a little research about the Amazon before going, it has been a while since 8th grade earth science! The Amazon covers 8 countries and contains an unparalleled amount of animal and plant biodiversity, which is why we are all obsessed with it, it's like kinda important for the earth and all. The Amazon basin is roughly the size of the US. Unfortunately, the rainforest is being destroyed for farm and cattle land.

Fun fact for you: the Amazon river when it empties into the Atlantic ocean between the volume and force of the water will maintain the fresh water current for over 120 miles! Early sailors were able to drink fresh water before they could see land.

It was a fascinating trip through a truly unique area of the world.

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