Posted by: tim ellis | November 28, 2008

Ecuador – Saturday 5th July,2008

Woken by a knock on the door at 5:00am, breakfast at half past – a good and substantial fare. Not much sign of the other groups – some have already left, others will follow us later. After breakfast, all kitted up we set out on our first morning hike, a trail through the forest, eventually reaching another lake, largely overgrown, where we take a tour by canoe through the flooded forest. Although we see openings in the vegetation that probably show an anaconda trail, we don’t see any snakes, though there are several species of frog – diurnal rather than nocturnal ones this time, including a poison dart frog, and an Amazon tree frog that at one stage mistakes me for a tree! There are also a number of birds, including a couple of species of woodpecker, some jungle pigeon and some toucan.

Pablo tells us about the jungle trees, including a giant kapok where the devil lives and teaches the shaman how to contact the spirits, as well as trees with medicinal or other uses. We have seen armadillo tracks, and Pablo has shown us how to smoke them out of their burrows using dried chilli pepper, and how to make a snare to catch one, but we haven’t seen any mammals at all until Pablo spots a black mantled tamarin up in the trees – he also finds a couple of bats roosting in a hole in another kapok tree.
We return to camp to visit the butterfly farm, with it’s many colourful species of local butterflies, as well as a turtle, some fish and a cane toad! From here we go to look for a pygmy marmoset behind cabin 23, as there are a couple of trees that they regularly visit to feed. We are in luck as there is one feeding when we arrive, and it’s quite low down,affording an excellent view.

Lunch is at one, then an afternoon trek to the canopy walk at 3:30, so I return to my cabin to sit on the balcony and catch up on my diary. I am disturbed by a commotion in the trees, caused by some large, raucous birds crashing through the branches. On further examination I decide these are speckled Chacalacas. While I am watching these, and looking to see what other birds might be in the vicinity, I realise that the thing moving the branches of the nearest tree isn’t a bird at all as it has 4 legs and a long tail! It is another black mantled tamarin.

After a cloudy morning the sun has finally come out, so after applying sun oil, I stroll down to the sun deck overlooking the lagoon. There are a few swimmers, mostly the kids, and not much else going on, so I retire to the bar for a coke and to catch up with what some of the other groups have been doing.

We set of again at half three to the canopy walk. It is now much hotter and sunnier, especially when we ascend 50 m above the forest floor to the suspended walkway overlooking the forest canopy. The towers were quite sturdy and the views spectacular, but I don’t think any of us were wonderfully keen on the walkway parts! The birds, too, seem to think it is too hot, and though we do see a few different species, most are a way off and require the telescope or binoculars and some expert assistance to find. We do have a good, if brief view of a toucan flying below us, and a group of squirrel monkey moving through the jungle provide a non-avian alternative. 
 
We hear thunder in the distance, (although Diego assures us the towers have never been struck by lightening!) and a rainbow appears as a backdrop to the bridge. Sunset is fast approaching as we descend the tower and it is dark when we arrive back, giving us just time to shower and change ready for dinner at 7:30.

There is no official activity for us tonight, but after dinner I walk down to the lagoon again, to find Carol and Jeff looking for (and successfully finding) the young cayman, and to marvel at the variety and number of strange stars.

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