While visiting the Peruvian rainforest, my group had the opportunity to visit one of the local medicine men. We took a boat downriver to the plot of land on which the medicine man had cultivated several gardens containing dozens of local medicinal plants. His assistant took us on a tour of the garden and described the purpose of each plant, used to treat everything from wounds, stomachaches, headaches, infertility, and any other number of ailments and diseases. Several plants were also being researched by western scientists as possible cures for cancer. A few plants contained dyes which the locals use as pigments, and he took the liberty of painting our faces with one bright red dye which oozed from the leaves of one plant. The most fascinating plant was ayahuasca, used to induce hallucinatory stream-of-thought consciousness in patients who visit the medicine man after undergoing a rigorous training and fasting session for several weeks before the week-long session in order to foresee their own fate.
Twice daily treks and canoe trips to see the wildlife. these are included in the price of the Sandoval lake lodge. The most spectacular animals were the giant otters and the macaws but unfortunately these were the worst pictures. A great way to spend the last few days of a holiday.
All you need is some meat. Yes, chunks of beef. Put them on your rod and watch your line get yanked over and over. Sometimes they swipe a whole chunk of meat from under your nose. Sneaky buggers. We caught a few along with some catfish. The guides were better fishers than us..some surprise..
Your guide will surely take you on a day and night walk through the jungle. Stay close to your group. We almost got lost in the dark by not paying attention. Scary.
Keep your eyes and ears peeled and you should see some interesting stuff. From uh, ahem, interesting trees to furry little animals. Watch out for the tarantulas.
At night hopefully your tour guide will take you out on the motorized canoe to look for caimans. The canoe will slowly cruise down the river while someone aims a powerful spotlight towards the banks. If there is one out there you will see it's eyes glowing. It can be hit and miss as they will be frightened off when the boat approaches. We were lucky as after a few misses our guide jumped on one and snagged him (don't worry, it was a small one).
There exists approximately 1,300 species of birds in the Amazon. Among them we find the rare harpy eagle as well as countless migratory birds, and a great diversity of parrots and macaws. The latter give us the opportunity to see, at the Colpa Colorado, a Macaw Clay Lick, one of the most beautiful natural spectacles of Peru, where thousands of birds meet at daybreak.
The guide will point out different wildlife along the shore on the way to the lodge. We saw families of paybaras (the largest in the rodent family) next to the river. The early morning journey to the clay lick is also exciting. I don't think you'll fall asleep.
Another 2 hours upstream from the lodge is one of the largest macaw clay lick in the world. You'll see a spectacular scene of macaws and parrots feeding on the cliff. I don't have a pwerful enough zoom lens to take a good photo of it, but you can see a good one in almost any good tour book. We have to start our book trip at 4:00am in the morning, it was quite a surreal boat ride.
Every day that you stay at the TRC, you'll have the opportunity to go out (sometimes more than once) and watch the macaws, parrots, and parakeets feed on the nearby clay lick.
Some researchers think that the clay aids in digesting, while others think it helps remove toxins from their local foodsources. Regardless, it's an amazing experience to watch hundreds of brightly coloured macaws, parakeets and parrots.
The picture posted doesn't do this justice
The white caiman is a small crocodilian species that is common to the Amazon. The males are larger growing no larger than 2.5 meters. These meat eaters mostly hunt or scavenge at night. You will have the best opportunity seeing these creatures at night with a spot light on the water.
Capybara is the largest of the rodents weighing up to 130 pounds. They are semi-aquatic animals that live in large groups of 10 to 20 near rivers and lakes. They are common in the Amazon. They are herbivores and are prey of the jaguar. They are mostly nocturnal but can be seen in the early morning or late afternoon grazing on the banks of the river. They are excellent swimmers and have eyes high above their heads to see while swimming. They live up to between 8 and 12 years.
Leaf cutter ants are defoliants of the rainforest. They live in underground colonies in the hundreds of thousands. They can be easily found crossing the Amazon floor in highways that can stretch for nearly 400 meters that might disappear strait up a tree. The ants follow a scent left along the ground so they no which path to take. They are one of the strongest of all insects and can carry objects three times their size. The leaf matter they cut is taken back to the colony where it is chewed and spit out where it will grow fungus. The fungus will then provide nourishment for the next generation of leaf cutter ants. The ant highways are amazing. They just keep on going and never seems to stop. Apparently, they will continue cutting from the same tree until the tree is exhausted of leaf material.
If you visit the Peruvian rainforest of the Tambopata River area, you MUST get up early and visit the "clay lick" near the Tambopata Research Center. This is an exposed mineral clay cliff at which literally thousands of exotic birds gather to socialize each morning. It is thought that, in addition to the socialization, the birds gains some sort of mineral supplement by licking the rich, wet clay on the cliff.
To observe this breathtaking phenomenon, small groups are taken, via motorized canoe, to a small island marsh area, approximately 200 feet across the river from the clay lick. Everyone must be in place BEFORE sunrise, soas not to disturb the gathering pattern. The whole show will go on for about 90 minutes, after which the birds seem to go their own way into the lush rainforest.
We ran into some rain when we got there. But I think the sea otters were very active after the rain. The rain might have lessen the beauty of the sunset a little bit, but still pretty good.
Absolutely the most tranquil and stunningly beautiful lake I've ever visited, breaming wiht wild life including the sea otters.