Untamed Land

Untamed Land
Untamed Land

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Cumaceiba River

While I was in Iquitos I walked into one of the many small travel agencies that tout Amazon Expeditions. They all have various packaged tours to jungle lodges etc. The one I chose was a 3 day visit to a lodge on the Cumaceiba River.They took me and a friendly Chilean couple by taxi to Nauta, where we boarded a rickety wooden boat, and headed downriver.
After a few hours we turned up the Cumaceiba River. There were the famous bubblegum, Pink River Dolphins in the river but they would not cooperate for a photo. Several small fish leaped into our boat. The terrain all around was flooded Varzea forest.
The muddy bank where the lodge stood was just about the only solid ground in the area. The lodge was incredibly rustic, and lacked electricity. I have never seen so many spiders and bats as there were inside and out of the lodge. I am not choosy about accommodations, but I was very relieved that the beds had tight fitting mosquito nets. The cacophony of jugle noises outside at night was matched only by the noises coming from creatures inside the lodge.
All our little excursions were done in small dugout canoes through the flooded forest. My butt and lower back were in agony at the end of each day. We pushed though thick vegetation and got covered with biting ants, and non-biting spiders.
We took one night excursion to look for caimans and other nocturnal wildlife. It was so eerie pushing through twisted tree trunks and vines in the dark. We soon got covered with spiders, and the guide in front kept getting stung by huge wasps that were annoyed by our lights. He doubled over in pain every time. Soon we had to extinguish our headlamps, and got completely lost in the forest.
I was really worried but the guide and boatman were not. They grew up in those forests. We saw the caimans, and some frogs etc. I was very relieved when we got back to the lodge, and the sky opened up with a fierce thunderstorm as soon as we got indoors.
There were three Yellow-headed Cara caras that hung around the lodge all day. They were awaiting table scraps, (mostly fish guts) that the kitchen staff threw out after meals.
When the lodge people learned that I was a serious birder, they were delighted because that meant that they didnt have to repeat the usual dumbed down jungle lore that other tourists got. When they saw that I had the new Guide to the Birds of Peru they almost jumped for joy. I never got to look at it because the lodge guides were always studying it.
They assigned me my own personal guides, and taylored all my excursions to see the most birds. The other lodge guests became jealous and were soon coming along on my trips.
The cara caras had to compete with this Roadside Hawk for table scraps. It was very unafraid of people.
Here it poses on the lodge's water tower.
There were also many Black-collared Hawks along the riversides.
A very odd bird species we saw in the mornings were the noisy, Horned Screamers.
A few of the multitudes of bats, roosting on a tree trunk over the water.
Squirrel Monkeys were one of several species of monkeys in the forest.
I have no idea what this rabbit sized critter is.
Russet-backed Oropendela.
Fer de Lance is a pit-viper that is responsible for more human fatalities in Latin America than all other snakes combined. This small individual was completely calm in it's demeanor.
A local fisherman caught this Anaconda in his net and brought it by the lodge to show us. It was not friendly at all. I saw many good birds and other animals on the Cumaceiba River, and it was a great, but uncomfortable experience. The staff went out of their way to please their guests, and share their knowledge.

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