This is the second of two posts about our stay in the Amazon. Find part one here.
On our second morning in the Amazon we were up bright and early to visit a clay lick in the hopes of seeing some birds eating there. Apparently the clay in their stomach helps them filter out the toxins from the jungle fruit that they eat. We lucked out and managed to squeak in there before it rained, which meant that got to see a ton of macaws and parrots, among others. Unfortunately we couldn’t fit our enormous zoom lenses in our backpacks (even our imaginary ones were too big), so we had to observe as our fellow travellers took pictures of the far away birds. We definitely didn’t have a prime picture taking set up for the jungle, so most of our animal photos are blurry blobs in the distance. There’s only so much room you can devote to photography equipment on a three month backpacking trip. We lucked out on our way back to the lodge and spotted a couple of capybaras, which are the world’s biggest rodents.
After breakfast we took a little walk to a nearby farm, although I think that the term farm was used pretty loosely as this was mostly an abandoned house in the middle of a semi-wild natural area. It was fun to watch as our guide cut ripe bananas down from a tree and quite the treat to eat one right on the land it had been grown on. It turns out that bananas, unlike most fruits and vegetables, don’t really taste much different when they’re picked and eaten fresh, or at least these ones didn’t. That’s not to say that these ones weren’t good, but I guess it’s nice to know that when I pick up a bunch of bananas at Safeway that have travelled thousands of kilometres since their harvest I’m not missing out on much. Our guide pointed out a fish-eye pepper bush and I was first in line to give one a try. Even though I followed our guide’s advice to just chew it and spit it out, that thing packed a serious (and seriously delicious) punch! I also tried the source of emergency jungle protein, the termite. It was too small to really have much flavour, but what I could taste certainly wasn’t unpleasant. Definitely much less Fear Factor worthy than I would have imagined.
Later the same day we went on my favourite excursion of our time in the jungle, which was a trip to Tres Chimbadas lake. We hopped on a catamaran, and our guide took us out to do some pirhana fishing and bird spotting. Before you start thinking that we were out on some luxury yacht, which is what I automatically think of when I hear catamaran, I’ll clarify that we were pretty much on a wooden platform with a few benches and a large oar at the back that our guide used to steer us around the lake. That didn’t make the trip any less enjoyable, though. When our guide told us we could go swimming I wasted no time ripping my clothes off (with my bathing suit underneath, of course) and jumping in to the water. I absolutely love to swim, and it was such a joy to get some relief from the hot day, although at somewhere close to thirty degrees the lake was barely refreshing. I didn’t care, though – I could have floated in that tepid water all day if I’d had the opportunity. The hot day faded into a very pleasant evening, and we witnessed a stunning sunset before going on a hunt for caimans, which are basically mini alligators. I was terrible at spotting their glowing eyes in the water, but luckily there were a few people on the boat who had no problem seeing them from far away. To top the day off, we were lucky enough to spot a few larger caimans in the river as we made our way back to the lodge.
Our final outing started bright and early the next morning. I’m not at my best before breakfast, so the two hour hike deep in to the jungle was a bit of a struggle, but we arrived at Lake Cocococha before anyone’s arms were gnawed off and ate the meal that the cooks at the lodge had packed for us. This day’s boat ride was on more of a canoe-style craft and really had me wishing that we could go swimming again as the heat was bordering on unbearable. We saw a bunch more birds and even got a little peek at the elusive river otter before hiking our way back out.
We had the option of going on another walk later that day, but reading in the hammocks at the lodge sounded a lot more appealing, so we spent the afternoon lounging in the shade. The lack of wifi meant that I finally finished a book and it was probably one of the most relaxing times we’ve had on the trip so far.
By the last morning we were ready to get back to the land of light switches and restaurants, but we really enjoyed our short stint in the Amazon. It was a total departure from anything else we’d done, and it provided both true relaxation and enough exertion to make us really appreciate the great food that was served to us. I don’t think I’ll be be permanently adopting a life among the spiders and caimans any time soon, but it was great to get a little taste of life in the South American wild.