Peru 2005 Day Five: Peruvian Amazon

by Kara on July 26, 2005

The next morning we told our guide, Ana, about our close encounter with the spider. She said it probably wasn’t dangerous, but I include potential heart attacks in the category of dangerous.

This baby ocelot had a grand time attacking Stephen's hat and backpack.

This baby ocelot had a grand time attacking Stephen's hat and backpack.

We had breakfast at 5:30 a.m. Tuesday. The lodge staff had rescued a baby ocelot whose mother had been killed by hunters. She was about four months old, and though they hope to release her back into the wild, she seemed awfully acclimated to humans. While we were breakfasting, she attacked Stephen’s backpack straps with gusto. When he put his backpack up, she attacked mine. When I moved mine, she grabbed Stephen’s hat and ran away with it. He had a heck of a time retrieving it. She did NOT want to give it up! She was absolutely adorable, but it was obvious she was no housecat.

After breakfast, we took a short boat ride so that we could head into the Tambopata Reserve. It was about a 45 minute hike to the swampy canal where we could canoe out to Lake Sandoval. The man who owned the canoes, Mr. Miranda, had been attacked by an anaconda three days earlier, so he was in the hospital. By the time we left Peru, we had been told what happened by about five people and every version was different, so I’m just sharing the version our guide told us, with the disclaimer that it might not be completely 100 percent true.

This is the dork who ignored the rules about not bringing backpacks to monkey island. This monkey went through his backpack to see what was worth stealing.

This is the dork who ignored the rules about not bringing backpacks to monkey island. This monkey went through his backpack to see what was worth stealing.

Mr. Miranda had been alone in the canal in a canoe with his dog, when an anaconda went after the dog. Our guide saw the anaconda afterward and she said it was about 10 feet long. Mr. Miranda went to protect the dog and the snake bit him on the thigh. Anacondas aren’t poisonous, but because of their size, a bite can still be a serious thing. Because he was alone, Mr. Miranda had to walk 45 minutes back to the river. Then he managed to get a ride on a boat faster than his and he went to the hospital in Puerto Maldonado. When his son heard what happened, they went after the snake and killed it, which is apparently a big no-no in the reserve, but they really didn’t want this aggressive snake hanging out in an area that a lot of people travel through.

We made our way through the canal to the lake without incident and were treated to a beautiful canoe ride around the lake. The bird life was abundant and we saw red capped cardinals, red belly macaws, a juvenile ibis, grey-necked wood rails and these crazy birds called huatzins. We also saw a black caiman, the largest of the caimans, which is quite rare. After docking, we walked past the Miranda’s farm and saw the dog that was nearly dinner, and then we hiked back to the river.

Please sir, may I have some more? This is a White Faced Capuchin Monkey.

Please sir, may I have some more? This is a White Faced Capuchin Monkey.

After lunch, we waited for our delayed honeymooning couple, and then went out to Rolin Island. Inkaterra (which runs Reserva Amazonica) is using the island to rehabilitate pet monkeys that they hope to re-release in to the wild. There are four kinds of monkeys on Rolin Island: White-Faced Capuchin, Black-Capped Capuchin, Spider Monkeys, and the saddle backed tamarin. When we walked into the interior of the island, it wasn’t long till the monkeys came around to see if we had anything good to eat (people are not supposed to feed them, but non-Inkaterra groups are known to break the rules). A little White-Faced Capuchin Monkey was the most interested in our group and she hung around quite a bit.

Don Anselmo leads a tour of his farm.

Don Anselmo leads a tour of his farm.

After that we went to a farm that was given to a man as a concession by the Peruvian government with the understanding that he would keep it as a working farm in good shape so that people can come in and see a traditional farm. Don Anselmo, who ran the farm, was around 70 years old, and he lived there with his son. There was a huge array of fruits, vegetables and herbs (including the dreaded cilantro) on the farm. Some of the things had the same names as US fruits and vegetables, but they were actually different from ours. Don Anselmo’s wife lives in Puerto Maldonado to run their stall at the farmer’s market, which is where the bulk of their produce is sold.

On the way back, we shone lights on the river to help us spot white caimans, and we saw a few, but didn’t manage to get too close. The one (very minor) disappointment of the Amazon portion of our trip was that we didn’t get to see any capybaras. I’ve seen them in the zoo, but I would love to see the world’s largest rodent in the wild. Ah well.

Check out more of Stephen’s pictures of Peru.

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