8 days in the jungle
23.09.2010 - 26.09.2010 30 °C
Day 5. This morning we headed back to the lake we had visited the night prior but this time to find the giant otters that make it their home. While the giant otters in Manu are actually 5 times rarer than jaguars, the limited number of suitable habitats for them mean that they're relatively easy to find (if you know where to look). Again we boarded the raft and a couple of the guides paddled us in a direction opposite to that which we had taken the night before. Soon enough we saw a group of about 7 swimming towards us, weaving through the green lake. They didn't stay long, however, and made their way swiftly to the other side of the lake. We followed and this time they allowed us to watch them for longer. A few play-fought while one set about catching a fish, which it did with relative ease, and we sat and watched the otter make light work of its fish breakfast.
On the way back to the lodge we stopped off the try and find some peccaries. Now at this point I thought a peccary was a bird (no idea why) so when we got off the raft and heard what was a cacophony of 'cracks' and 'bangs' I wondered what the hell was going down. Only to add to the mystery we were told to crouch down and we didn't see a thing. Apparently 'they' had heard us and left. Before lunch we went to see a local tribe (more a tourist attraction now) where they sold handicrafts and strange items such as their version of the ball and cup game; a stick and a turtle skull. We decided to pass on such novelties and instead play football with the locals. Despite my thunderbolt of a goal, we went down 3-1 and felt on the verge of passing out for a while to come.
After a few hours recovering, we went on a search for some monkeys. About twenty minutes in the guides noticed a large group of spider monkeys in the trees above us, watching us. One of the braver monkeys decided to pick a fight with us, which in the ape world is done by violently shaking a branch in our direction. Juan Carlos (the cheekier of our two guides) wasn't having any of this so shook a branch back in the monkey's direction. Then all hell broke loose. Monkeys came bounding through the trees, settling in the canopy above us, encircling us and shaking branches. Things were getting ugly. We held our ground, however, and eventually the monkeys retreated. Humans 1 - 0 Spider Monkeys.
Day 6. Today we began our return to civilization in earnest. Many hours were again spent on the canoe cruising back up the river and strangely I found Proxy - 8000 to be the perfect song for such an occasion. On the way we stopped off at another lake and although we didn't see anything of any real interest around the lake, the walk through the jungle took us past some enormous trees and into our first real encounter with peccaries. As we were returning from the lake, Ronan (the other guide) suddenly stopped, told us to crouch down and be silent. Sure enough there was the familiar clicking and banging sound we had heard last time. This time we could make out something moving through the bushes about thirty metres to our left. Sure enough, there they were, a heard of about twenty pigs making their way down to the lake. So it turned out that peccaries definitely weren't birds. We were told they had a cracking sense of smell but how they could smell anything over themselves I have no idea. From thirty metres away the thick smell of pigs filled the air as though I was stood right over one of the animals. After they had passed we returned to the boat.
Day 7. Many more hours spent in a canoe. When we arrived at the lodge for our final night in the jungle the weather had broken. For seven days it had been sunny and stiflingly hot during the day. Now the sky was thick with dark clouds and thunder rumbled around us as if in surround sound. As it got dark bolts of lightening began to strobe the sky with flashes of orange and purple. An exciting finale to our trip was topped off with a jug of sangria provided by our amazing chef, Sabina. Ronan took one of the bits of floating, alcohol soaked apple and fed it to a cricket which then had considerable problems walking, providing even more entertainment than ten games of shit head.
Most nights we were in the jungle we went on night walks and while I can no longer distinguish them, I'll add some of the better photos I took while on these walks.