Simon & Christine's 2005/2006 Trip travel blog

Giant river otter.

On manoeuvres in the jungle.

Curious George.

Angry asp.

Manu Bioreserve, supposedly the best preserved section of the Amazon rainforest. Part of the reserve is closed to any visitors and there are tribes living within it who still hunt and fish in the traditional manner and have no contact with the outside world. It's a long voyage from Cusco to the reserve zone, taking almost three days by truck, river boat and raft. Along the way we saw many birds including the Peruvian Cock of the Rock performing its mating ritual and Macaws flocking to a clay lick in search of minerals to balance their fruit based diet. There were capybaras diving deep into the water and monkeys - so many monkeys, Spider Monkeys, Howler Monkeys, both Brown and White Faced Capuchins, Squirrel Monkeys and others I have forgotten. Simon thinks a tree full of Spider Monkeys makes as much noise as a Sheehy Sunday dinner but I'd back Sarah and Bex to top them any day (or is it Kate Ella and Max these days?)

On day three we were extremely lucky to see a beautiful jaguar, reclining regally on a narrow beach and flicking away the bugs with his tail. That night it poured with rain and by the morning the river had risen by over a metre - eliminating his beach. In the rainy season it is much harder to see jaguars.

That morning we trekked to Salvador Lake to paddle quietly on a river raft. The lake was perfectly still, the mirror glass reflection of the soaring rainforest disturbed only by the eyes and snout of a caiman cruising silently in search of its prey. Here we found a family of the endangered giant river otter, turtles, herons, macaws and some prehistoric birds.

Spotting wildlife takes a lot more patience than I generally have, as I discovered while lying in the dark on the floor of a hide for two and a half hours, trying to figure out a way to silently swat mosquitoes as we waited for tapirs - which have ultra sensitive hearing - to come to a clay lick. Thankfully we got to see one.

There were so many species - snakes, birds, a herd of wild pigs that almost stampeded us. Manu was so beautiful, but it really brought home to us the fragility of the Amazon rainforest and the impact of tourism, just as our flight over the north of Peru reinforced the problem of deforestation - so much worse now than when I first studied it in third form Science. We will return to the Amazon.

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