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...two travellers in search of the world's wildlife

12 July 2011

Green gloom

9th July 2011

So what does one do at a lodge in the Amazonian rainforest? Well, there’s a few activities that seem pretty standard, at least based on this one (Sacha Lodge) plus the one we visited in Brazil a few years back.

First off, you go for jungle walks on winding trails in the dense green gloom of the forest. There are often bugs to see, sometimes frogs or reptiles, occasionally birds and mammals – typically monkeys. You have two guides; a local native who is astonishingly good at spotting things and recognising noises, and an English-speaking naturalist who can tell you all about what you’re seeing. There are loads of interesting trees and plants in the Amazon jungle and the occasional pauses to learn all about them help to break up the trek. The walk isn’t fast: the point is to look carefully, not cover a long distance, but it can get dull if you have been going for twenty minutes and no animal has helpfully popped up to give you something to look at.

Most lodges also seem to have a canopy tower or walkway. This is a vertiginous piece of scaffolding that climbs more than forty metres up until you emerge above the canopy of the very tallest rainforest trees. The view is amazing and early in the morning you can look for parrots, toucans and anything else that might be found in the canopy and never seen from the ground. Anyone with the slightest degree of vertigo will find it petrifying, but anyone else will be delighted and when picking a jungle lodge you should really make sure they’ve got one.

Every lodge in the Amazon basin is somewhere near some water. Sacha Lodge is located beside a small ‘black water’ lake, which means the water is extremely dark and acidic from all the dead leaves in it. This also means mosquitoes don’t like it, so there are few around (Maureen would like to point out that ‘few’ doesn’t mean ‘none’). So another activity will be a boat trip, either by canoe for still waters like a lake or by motor launch for faster-flowing rivers. Caiman are commonly seen, fish-eating relatives of crocodiles. There are also special water birds and occasionally mammals; perhaps even otters!

So that’s about it. Every day you get up at the crack of dawn for a morning activity, then have lunch and rest before an afternoon activity which ends around dusk, then have dinner. Some evenings you might also do a night walk or nocturnal boat trip – the same sort of idea, but different critters come out at night. Tarantulas, for example.

Two or three days experiencing the most diverse habitat on the planet (in relative comfort) is definitely time and money well spent. What’s more, these lodges are each protecting a piece of rapidly disappearing primary rainforest and so visiting one is a genuine act of conservation. Do it, do it.

4 Responses to “Green gloom”

  1. Elle says:

    Oklahoma has tarantulas. They walk around in broad daylight in out garages … ; )

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