Russells in the Rainforest

Trip Start Mar 07, 2013
Trip End Mar 18, 2013

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Friday, March 15, 2013

We arrived at the eco center a little early for our canopy walk. We got to spend some one on one time with our nature guide Wilson.  He was from this area and was extremely knowledgable.  We got to talking about the native tribes and he showed us a incredible video shot on a cell phone.  A few years ago some local loggers traveling by motorized canoe, came across a group of natives on the shore of the Madre de dios only a 15 miles upstream. They were only wearing what looked to be homemade underwear.  They were not happy  about the intrusion and quickly sent the women and children into the forest.  The men began to shout and make threatening gestures.  One was carrying a spear and looked ready to launch it toward them.  The loggers got the boat running full speed to get out of there.  The barefoot, spear holding, native chased them at full speed and kept upi with the for a while.  It looked like he wanted to take someone out with his spear.   One of the people on the boat though they might be in need or interested in some clothes.  Once some distance was between them and the spear holder, they put a shirt on a log on he shore and back up to see the reaction. It was obviously not interesting to him and he walked right past it.  

Apparently, there are multiple tribes that have chosen to remain in the rainforest.  The Spanish exploited many of the local tribes to mine gold.   Many tribes made a decision to keep away from any outsiders to protect themselves.  Even though much time has passed, there is an unwillingness to make contact with the outside world.  The rainforest produces an abundant amount of food and it did not look they were missing any meals.  

Most of the current gold mining takes place at the headwaters.  The gold that is found is actually from the Andes that has washed downstream by the swift current. Most activity on the river is now local farming and logging.  The logging  business is now highly regulated.  Logging can only be done with government permits with ares chosen to lessen any environmental damage caused.  The activity still pushes these multiple tribes deeper into the untouched rainforest.  One of the more recent planning  concerns is make sure competing tribes are not pushed into other tribes , for fear that a civil war cold accidentally started between tribes.  

The rain was still falling as we made a walk to the the canopy walk area. Wilson was amazing stopping us multiple times to show us colonies of ants, a  frog with big eyes on its butt to confuse predators as it ran away, and multiple birds, trees, etc.  If you saw something's interesting, he could tell you everything you wanted to know.

   The competion for survival is fierce in the rainforest and all life has its predators.  There are trees he called strangulators, that grow like a vine around  a full grown rainforest tree.  The wrap around and over time completely cover the existing tree, robbing it of its nutrients and eventually causing it to die.  The termites come an eat the dead tree inside and you are left with a tree that is a hollow shell.  (A perfect home for bats) and you would never know it from the outside.  Wilson pointed this out to us and reached inside the tree to take this photo for us. 


 It was still raining when the canopy tour began.  We went one by one through the 7 bridges.  It is a different world at the top of the trees. There is life there that is hard to imagine staring up from the ground.   Standing at the top of a platform 100+ feet in the air, the massive trees almost looked normal sized at the top.  

We all made it though the tour just fine,  it is very high and it each bridge had a different feel, some having more movement than others or  more incline depending on how tightly they were strung.    After Huayana picchu, it seemed pretty tame and we all enjoyed the tour.   

 We had time for a quick lunch and it is was off to lake Sandoval. Lake Sandoval was a bend in the lake at one point, but the river changed directions and it is now 2 miles from the main channel.   The two mile walk was though thick mud.  The lodge did provide rubber boots and we waked most of the way stepping 5-6 inches into the mud with each step.  Sometimes it could be deeper.  It was a tough walk for Sr.  Wilson, our nature guide walked with him to help him though.  We has multiple stops for the wildlife we came across.  We saw howler monkeys and several species of macaws.  Everything is so different than home, you are seeing something new and interesting with almost every step.  

The Lake Sandoval tour was by canoe.  Our guide,an intern named Daniel, and Stout 3 ( wilson's name for trey) paddled us around the lake. We saw a variety of wildlife and attempted to take photos, some turned out better than others.  It is hard to get on film what you can see though the binoculars.  

On the way out, Stout 3 commented we had not seen a Sloth.  A few minutes later Wilson yelled to stop the boat and above us was our sloth.  This was an animal everyone got their chance t see high in the trees.  They move incredibly slow, it took 5 minutes for it to move from one branch to the next while we watched.   It was a nice way to cap the tour.

It was getting dark as we began the 2 mile walk back.  It was tough going for sr but Wilson helped him the entire way.  When we got back to the boat, the skies had cleared and the stars were out.  The sky looks so different when you are away from city lights.  We got to see the southern cross, only visible from the Southern Hemisphere. This was one of my goals for the trip and since this was the rainy season, it was really the first night suited for stargazing.  

We made it back to the resort covered in mud and exhausted. Sr showered with clothes on first,   trying and get the mud out so clothes could be packed in the am.  We had another great dinner and retired for the night.  We all slept well.

They really do things right at the Inkaterra resort.  The cabin is rustic but fun and the food and service are  great.    We were told to be down a 9:20 and loaded up for the boat ride back to town to catch our flight back to Lima, where we will spend our final day in Peru.  
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