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Monday, January 14, 2013

Day 3: Take me to the River

Day 3: January 13, 2013
Location: Tahuayo Lodge

Click here to view an online album with 50 photos from Day #3.

Please note that I added a gallery with 38 photos from Day 2 - you can see a link to that gallery in the next posting down the blog.

Please also note that you may leave comments at the bottom of any post. I promise to communicate all comments to the appropriate party!

Today we spent over 16 hours exploring the flora and fauna of the Amazon river and rainforesst. It was quite full day, filled with beauty and adventure.

We awoke just before 6AM for a 6:15AM breakfast. Several of us found this beautiful vantage point, from which we could enjoy the sun rising through the trees over the river as we drank coffee and tea:

By 6:30AM, we loaded into boats: actually one motorboat that towed 5 low-riding wooden canoes behind us. The canoes were made by local villages and were of a primitive style, riding just a few inches over the water line, and steered by machete-carved paddles. We cruised up river for about 30 minutes to the spot where we disembarked.

We transferred from the motor boat into our five canoes, each containing two students and a guide. We spent the next three hours paddling through the flooded jungle, observing the wildlife (including caimans, iguanas, numerous birds, spiders, insects, rodents). It was quite a wildlife adventure, our own float-by jungle zoo.

We stopped at a viewing platform and found a huge ficus tree to climb around. Although there were several close calls, no students actually fell off the tree and into the river below!

We cruised back in time for lunch and a bit of time off. After lunch, we headed back out in our canoes, this time cruising through the jungle behind the Lodge. It is strange to paddle through the jungle - you can easily tell that this is a flooded area, as if you were paddling through your hometown woods but it were under four feet of water. That is to say, one can see that there is a whole second side to this same stretch of jungle - the dry season, when we could walk the same paths we are currently paddling.

The class indulged me for a group photo near a particularly large tree:

After about 20 minutes of paddling, we hiked another 20 minutes, arriving at a platform where we began our most adventurous portion of the trip: the zipline canopy tour.

We began on a platform (pictures above) about 20' in the air. We were loaded into climbing gear (a heavy belt with various attachments). We then had two options: to be hoisted via pulley or to use a mechanical ascender to manually rise; the two male students chose the latter, the rest of us the former. We were hauled/climbed up about 120' to a platform high above the rainforest:

We all gathered on this platform, which offered an amazing view of the jungle as far as the eye could see. Some of us (me!) were quite scared, others seemed quite unfazed. but everyone supported each other and made it to the top. A proud moment for NEC Amazon!

One at a time, we sat on the edge of the platform (nothing but 120' of air to the jungle floor!), were clipped in to the zipline, and then required to hop off the edge for a short fall before the line caught. We then zipped between trees, near the top of the canopy. That ride lasted only about 20 seconds or so. Eventually we will have some video of that ride to share. From the second platform, we zipped on a longer line to a third platform, and from there, we rappelled about 100' down a rope to the ground. Talk about an adrenaline rush! It was a wonderful bonding experience and something I expect none of us will ever forget.

After some well-deserved showers and a good dinner, we headed back to the same area we visited this morning. Riding down the river in near total darkness (there was no moon to be seen) was incredibly serene. We viewed the bright stars -- some in familiar constellations such as Orion but most not, but no southern cross in sight -- and were immersed in jungle sounds. We transferred to the same canoes and headed into the same area to view the wildlife at night.

The caimans were out in force. We also spotted a very large porcupine climbing a tree, many frogs (who filled the air with various chirps, croaks, pops, and other assorted calls), water snakes, tarantulas, and fish. Paddling through the jungle at night, in near total darkness and surrounded by a million unrecognizably exotic sounds was, for me, a real thrill.

We returned to the lodge around 10:30PM, pretty tired from our long day, but truly exhilaration from all we had seen and experienced. We look forward to another long but unique day tomorrow!

Thanks for reading!

1 comment:

  1. Wow!! Looks amazing!! Hope you're all having a blast!
    -Natasha. (Samantha's Mom)

    Hi Sam!!