Bird's Eye View

Trip Start May 20, 2010
1
162
195
Trip End Sep 05, 2011


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Where I stayed
Decameron

Flag of Colombia  ,
Sunday, June 5, 2011

DOMINIQUE HERE:

Day : 382
Temperature : Silly degrees Celcius
Weather : Humid, hot

Don't you just hate computers?! After a fantastic day conquering my fear of heights and photographing the Amazon dangling off a rope some 30m in the air, the USB lead comes loose on the computer as the transfer of info starts from the card reader to the computer, and the result is that it corrupts the card with several hundred photographs on it.... long and short of it, we've lost all of our photos from today! Infuriating. I am just hoping that some technical wizard in Rio may be able to salvage them. I want to weep!

Thankfully Fi has given us a few of her photos from the day, and if we ever manage to retrieve the photos from our own card then we will upload them onto this blog.

I didn't realise what I'd signed up for that day. I thought we'd climb up some steps onto a platform and perhaps there would be some kind of suspended board walk through the canopy on which we could go for a "wander", taking photos, before climbing back down again. I hadn't really thought it through properly. This fact started to dawn on me when I was fitted (very tightly) into a harness and given gloves.

After a brief walk along the board walk into the forest (the water levels are exceptionally high at present and most of the forest where the hotel is located is actually under several feet of water, and so it's only possible to walk on the board walks at this time) we reached an enormous tree of approximately 500 years of age and 70 metres in height. These trees are incredibly impressive and remind me of the trees which we saw in the Sumatran jungle. We then hopped into canoes and were paddled some 10 minutes through the flooded jungle until we reached another board walk area which surrounded an equally magnificent tree.

Looking up we could see a platform situated a long, long...long way up in the tree. Dangling from the platform were several climbing ropes. And that's when I realised that we were actually going to ascend to the platform by means of these ropes, using proper climbing techniques, something I have later learned to be referred to as "jumaring"...if that makes sense to anyone!  Our guide explained and demonstrated the correct method of ascending the ropes which did in fact look reasonably do-able for anybody of average fitness. My concern however, was the fact that I have a considerable, almost verging on phobic fear of heights.

I decided to opt for going in one of the first groups as opposed to waiting...I could already feel the perspiration beading on my forehead.  Thankfully, having something to concentrate on, such as ascending the rope in the correct manner, really helps take your mind off the fact that you are hanging mid air on a rather thin looking rope some 30 metres off the ground. But then I discovered that this only works for so long, and by the time I reached the platform some 40 metres up in the tree I virtually needed rescueing from the rope. When I was unclipped from the rope on which I ascended and onto another rope in the centre of the platform I was virtually shaking uncontrollably, drenched in sweat as I teetered on the edge, looking over the vertiginous drop in an attempt to see Kevin climbing confidently up below me.

The views from up there were magnificent and in the distance we could see a glimpse of the Amazon as it wound it's way through the jungle. Several strange little lizards scurried back and forth along the huge branches and beautiful butterflies fluttered by, stopping occasionally to drink the salty sweat on everybody's skin.

After time spent resting, relaxing and taking in the views it was time to go down onto a rather flimsy looking suspended boardwalk some 5 metres below. This was done by means of abseiling...we just had to forget the drop some 45 metres to the forest floor that was beyond the boardwalk! Actually, it was fairly easy, and after realising that you don't need to cling on for dear life it was fairly fun. After walking along the boardwalk we came to another platform on a second tree with equally amazing views, where we would be clipped onto another rope in order to abseil the whole way down to the ground. As I discovered, going over the edge is the worst part. The poor guide literally had to prise my feet off the platform as panic engulfed me, and in the background Kevin thought the whole scene was highly amusing...until he realised I actually was quite terrified. After slowly lowering myself centimetre by centimetre for the first few feet I decided I might as well go for it and so I let my grip on the rope go slack and whizzed straight down the rope to the ground at what seemed quite a speed....and then declared, once on terra firma, that "that was really fun!"

Unfortunately when Fi came down she caught one of her pig tails in the rope, which then became fully tangled in the abseling equipment until the point where she could descend no more. A 45 minute rescue ensued as one of the guides had to abseil down another rope in an attempt to free her hair. Thankfully, the need to cut her hair off was averted as somehow they managed to ascend just enough to pull her hair out. Phew! Lastly came Kev who flew down the rope. No sooner had he left the platform and he was down on the ground with a big smile on his face. Adventure in the canopy over.

In the afternoon we were treated to a visit by a family of beautiful squirrel monkeys which came to the trees by the river, leaping great distances from branch to branch and even between trees as they forraged for the fruits. Apparently these tiny monkeys, weighing only 3lbs as adults, live in groups of up to 500 and are unique amongst the Amazonian monkeys in that they are the only species not to use their tail for climbing. We watched them, entranced, for about 20 minutes or so before they retreated back to the jungle once again and I happily ticked off another animal ticked from my wish list.

In the evening we were treated to yet another spectacular sunset. Although we couldn't actually see the sun setting from our position, the sky above us turned a miriad of colours as the sun reflected off the clouds. We couldn't stay out for much longer after sunset because the dog sized mosquitos came out in their thousands. Too bad, the sounds of the jungle at night are even more magical than in the day time.




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