This was the first week we spent in the jungle, in the southeastern part of the country. We drove over the mountains from Cusco, to first stay in the "cloud" forest (so named because of the clouds that hang over the sides of the mountains, dropping lots of moisture) at Cock of the Rock Lodge. All along the road there were tons of waterfalls that were formed from water just seeping out of the rocks and hillsides. At first, we were oohing and ahhing and taking lots of pictures, but after awhile, it was "ho hum, it's just another waterfall".
Just before we entered the Reserve, a fox greeted us, and I took this as an auspicious sign. This turned out to be true, as we saw a phenomenal number of animals and birds over the next week.
At Cock of the Rock Lodge, there were hummingbird feeders outside the dining hall, and I got this picture of a Booted Racquet-tail (note his cute fuzzy anklets):
We then headed down the Madre de Dios river for 6+ hours, after a 4 hr van ride, before we got to our next Lodge for the night. However, we were to have an interesting event just before reaching the lodge. It was becoming quite dark, as we ended up taking longer to go down river than expected, due to low water, and actually having the boat hang up on a sandbar twice. We had no lights, but the assistant boat man was perched on the front of the boat, looking for trees and debris ahead of us, signaling to the boat driver (in the back with the outboard) which way to go to avoid things. We saw him signal to the left, then more frantically, just before we hit a large tree branch sticking out of the water on our right, that tore through the wooden uprights for the roof of the boat, right next to me. I lunged to the center of the boat, to avoid being speared by the branch, as the boat came to a sudden and abrupt halt, with the roof partially collapsing on us. Amazingly, no one was hurt. We limped to the next lodge, holding up the boat roof with the splintered uprights, for the next 10 minutes. I remember the stars being beautiful on the clear night, but we were all very shaken and subdued when we landed. The boatmen repaired the boat fairly well that night, and we proceeded down that river the next morning and on up the Manu river, to our next lodge, where we stayed for 2 nights. Both of these lodges did not have electricity (we had candles in the rooms for lighting, as well as using our headlamps) and there were mosquito nets over the twin beds in each lodge.
Next post will have more pictures and stories from the jungle.