Posted by: tim ellis | December 28, 2008

Ecuador – Sunday 6th July, 2008

A lie in! Called at 5:30 for breakfast at 6, an a 6:30 departure down stream to the kapok tower, a 50 metre wooden tower, built around a giant kapok tree, and one of the first features built at the lodge. We are off to a great start when we encounter groups of capuchin and squirrel monkeys foraging along the banks of the river before we reach the tower.

From the landing point to the tower is only a short (but still quite muddy) walk to the kapok, then up the wooden stairs. They are a bit more irregular than the metal towers yesterday, but once again the view from the top is stunning – you can see through the forest to the Napa river in one direction, and back up to the lagoon in the other. There is a variety of bird life around, from tiny honey eaters to a small hawk – some close enough to see clearly with the naked eye, others requiring the use of the telescope. We do see macaws flying, but only in the distance.

We had heard red howlers calling when we set out this morning, and finally manage to spot one, again thanks to the telescope, and finally a three toed sloth – quite literally hanging around!
Back to camp, where we have a long break, punctuated by lunch at 1, before we head out again at 4pm. As with yesterday, I take the opportunity to catch up my diary, and have just finished when noises in the trees behind my cabin reveal more visitors – this time a troop of squirrel monkeys passing though. About half an hour later when I make my way up to the dining hall, they have circled through and are crossing the end of my walkway – Jan and Pat are there watching them.

There is excitement at lunch when half a dozen baby cayman are spotted just outside the dining hall apparently are quite maternal so this would suggest mum is close by, but no one spots her.

This afternoons excursion is a short trip across the lagoon in the blazing sun, then a walk along the “Anders” trail, the way we originally came in, to look for monkeys. The howlers are calling close at hand, but prove difficult to spot through the trees, as do another group of squirrel monkeys further on. Pablo continues to import local knowledge of plants to us, and makes me a traditional Ecuadorian palm leaf sun hat. It would be no good for stealth though as the rustle of the leaves drowns out all the other noises! 

We turn back to give us time to return to camp for this evenings activities, when Pablo suddenly motions us to keep quiet. Just ahead of us he has spotted the Red Howler right by the path – as we watch a group of around 10 monkeys cross the trail just in front of us climbing through the treetops, even Diego is impressed by this close encounter! 

There is jut time when we return to shower and change, then back out for a half hour paddle around the lagoon to look for Cayman by torchlight (not as daft as it sound – the light reflects of their eyes, which can make them easier to spot than in daylight, when they tend to hide themselves away). We find a couple of smallish adults that don’t hang about too long when they realise they have been spotted, then a large adult (possibly the dominant female?) who hangs about a bit longer, before turning her back on us, signalling time to return for the Barbecue, in fact the dinner bell goes as we enter the harbour, but luckily there is plenty of food for everyone (and the bar has moved down to the lake too).


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