A Visit To Amazonia


By Dorothy Whittembury, Venezuela
Click images to enlarge


Part 2 - Upriver

After the serious medical work, an excursion had been planned for the group to one of the several camps/lodges which exist along the river and in the surrounding jungle. We joined this group as we wanted to see what is known as the canopy walk bridges. There are a few in other places. I am told there is one in Australia, another one in Costa Rica and apparently one being built somewhere in Africa. Well, this one is still the longest one with roughly 800 metres of bridge walks between the tops of huge trees. We started off at a lodge by the name of Ceiba Tops, a very sanforized place with cabins with air conditioning, hot water and fans. A big "maloca" (hut with palm leaf roof) served as restaurant, bar, meeting place and administration building and had mosquito netting all around it. To my great surprise, and although everybody was well armed with all sorts of repellents, few if any insects bothered us. This could be because outings were during the hours when all these buggers had already done their stuff, which is early morning and late afternoon.

Other than the hundreds of parrots of all sizes and colors which fly continuously everywhere, little bird life was seen except when going to specific areas where no civilization has installed itself and then only very early in the morning. Even on our walks in the forest itself, other than a monkey here and there, a few exotic insects and butterflies, no big game wanted anything to do with humans ogling around. The tapir in the picture at the left is a big and beautiful fellow raised from infancy by the camp people and, having been castrated, is tame and docile and ready to be photographed by all. Guillermo was offered a boa constrictor of over 5 metres, sort of in secrecy, by an Indian who quickly disappeared when one of the guides appeared. Peru is very strict in conservancy and plant and animal collecting are strictly forbidden.




 Some other camp pets

Well, the Ceiba Lodge organization has several others in the forest which are simpler and more interesting if nature is the goal. They have plain cooking, camp beds with mosquito nets, gas lamps and latrines. Since all these lodges are reached via boats and canoes and jungle walking, it is a haven for botanists, biologists, linguists and missionaries who are all doing their work in the immensity of the jungle. From one of the camps we proceeded to the canopy setup and, let me tell you, it is a feat of engineering and beauty. Well and safely built, protecting the trees from which the various cables and bridges hang, it is an experience to walk on top of the trees and seeing nothing but lush green and blue sky. Of course the abundance of plants (orchids, bromeliads and other epiphytes) is tremendous. Having just ended the real rainy season, little was in bloom, but it was still an awesome sight. Even those suffering from vertigo felt safe and eager to take more steps on those moving bridges in the air.

Part 1 - Iquitos and Belen | Part 3 - Victoria

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