Friday, July 11, 2014
A Morning in the Amazon Jungle
A typical day on our recent trip to Peru started early. Like 4:30 early. Since the walls were made of cloth and bamboo we could hear the staff getting up to make breakfast and the alarms of our fellow travelers.
So it's up, visit the fruit cage to get some fruit [the fruit had to be locked up so humans could have some - the scarlet macaws had no compunction about stealing food from the dining room during the day and I'm sure there were lots of critters who would gladly have wandered in during the night], throw on a pair of rubber boots and be ready to go at 5:15.
The 5:15 boat took us to an overlook at a parrot clay lick [the 5:30 boat was the only boat that took people back to civilization each day so you can see it's not a place for those wanting to sleep late].
Parrots and Macaws congregate at these open cliff faces of clay early in the day.
Before landing on the face of the cliff they socialize in the trees by the 100s (parrots) or dozens (macaws). Then some of the land on the cliff face and eat the clay.
Why do they eat the clay? There are two theories: one, the clay serves to detoxify something in their diet or two, the clay provides vital nutrients that are missing in their diet.
After about two hours the parrots head out and we head back to get our breakfast and [finally!] coffee. Very strong coffee. Like, I diluted it with hot water and still added lots of sugar and oh, did I miss my Paul Newman's Nell's Breakfast Blend, coffee.
After breakfast it was time for another hike through the mud. Not surprisingly the Amazon Rainforest has a lot of mud. Mud so deep that I couldn't wear my hiking boots that are waterproof to 4 inches the mud was too deep. Mud so deep that, at one point, The Husband came within an inch of getting mud INSIDE his rubber boots mud.
The best morning hike we had was to an oxbow lake - the best place to see Hoatzin.
What is so special about these birds (besides the fact that they look so cool?)? They are flying cows. They eat leaves and have a special structure full of bacteria that break down the cellulose in the leaves. Because this structure has to be very large Hoatzin do not have strong flight muscles and are very clumsy in the air. Their young are so clumsy that they nest by water so the young can jump into the water and SWIM away rather than fly! AND they [the young] have a special claw on their wing to climb back up into the trees.
Like I said, a seriously cool bird.
And all of this before lunchtime!