Thursday, March 17, 2016

Penetrating the Amazon Jungle- exploring the Rainforest

giant tree- Tombopato Reserve, Peru


First off, let me acknowledge that there are safer, far more comfortable places to spend a few days than the Peruvian Amazon Jungle.
During the early afternoon the temperature and humidity makes walking around an uninvited chore. If you choose to seek refuge in the shade of the tall trees, there are tons of friendly little vampiric mosquitoes wishing to give you gentle hug, take a blood sample, and, if you're really lucky, give you the gift of malaria (or dengue, yellow fever, or uta, depending of where the reels of the slot machine land.)
Hiking around is always a treacherous proposition, with dangers ranging from stinging plants and insects such as wasps and large "bullet ants" (so named because if they bite it feels as though you've been struck by gunfire,) to well camouflaged poisonous snakes and spiders who will kill you with a single bite. The serpents are first of two reasons you must wear high rubber boots in the forest; the other being the soft, nearly quicksand like mud you'll invariably have to muck your way through.
video: slopping through the Amazon mud

The forest can be thick, with cobwebs, vines, prickly thorns, and branches close to the ground making a machete, or "lightsaber of the jungle" as I call it, an absolute necessity.
video: the machete- lightsaber of the rainforest in action


Though the forest is thick, and the shade near constant, once in awhile there is a break in the forest where one of the larger trees has fallen. It's a little like a newly deceased drug lord, it becomes a race for seedlings/ junior associates to take over the spot in the canopy, the winner expressing his dominance by drowning out its photosynthetic competitors with darkness.
video: the race for the sun- canopy of the Amazon

giant tree- Tombopato Reserve, Peru
the huge base of a 200 year old Amazonian tree
The jungle contains an ecosystem of great beauty that's been in tact for millennia. Billions of oxygen producing, life enhancing trees, some giant and ancient which shelter everything from Tarzan like vines to nests for thousands of species of birds who spread seeds from the fruit produced. There are plant species with still unknown cures for disease, tribes of Indians who've never made contact with the West, anti-biotic producing leaf cutter ants, and Howler Monkeys which can be heard from two kilometers away.
Being here isn't easy, but I'm incredibly grateful for the opportunity and the adventure.
devil lips flower - Tombopato Reserve, Peru
devil lips flower

vine swinging - Tombopato Reserve, Peru
video: climbing a thick vine (photo of struggle on right)

"erotic tower" of the rainforest
"erotic tower" of the rainforest

the forest on the banks of the Tombopato River
the forest on the banks of the Tombopato River

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