Amazon Canoe Ride

May 23, 2010 (Day 5)

We got up early and headed downriver for about 10 minutes to a small clay lick, where we weren't too successful in spotting many parakeets and parrots but nevertheless, it was nice to witness our first sunrise in the Amazon.
When we arrived, there was already a man scoping the lick for activity. He apparently does this every day as part of his research activities for a nearby non-profit organization. A bit after 7am, he decided that he had better things to do and was about to head off in his canoe, when it somehow got loose and started its way downriver.  One of our boatman jumped into our canoe and rushed downriver to grab the boat. It was pretty funny seeing the guy run frantically down the rocky shoreline after his boat. Luckily, our boatman was around to rescue his motorized canoe.

We, too, were soon on our way down the Alto Madre de Dios River, enjoying breakfast on the boat, even despite the ants in our cereal, as we had a 7-8 hour boat ride on our hands today. Luckily, our motorized canoe had an overhead tarp that provided some protection from the elements as it soon started to rain and it continued to rain for an hour or two. I guess that's to be expected in a rainforest.
Along the way, we spotted a number of birds and monkeys, in addition to a family of capybaras along the shoreline.
We arrived at our home for the next two nights, the Maquisapayoj Lodge, later that afternoon. 
After a quick break to settle into our room, we trekked in the mud for about an hour to arrive at a tapir blind where we climbed the stairs to find a platform with small mosquito-net covered mattresses. We ate our dinner silently in the dark without knowing exactly what we were eating and then were told to nap while our guide 'kept an eye' on the mammal salt lick for any tapir activity.  There wasn't much sleeping going on. There was another group already there and they appeared to be there more for the social aspect than the nature, so it was quite loud and not surprisingly, no tapir showed up that evening, so we decided at about 9:30pm to start our way back to the lodge. 

The walk back to the lodge was a bit treacherous in the dark as some people got their rubber boots stuck in the mud and I accidentally dropped one of my LEDs in a stream while slightly slipping on the wooden plank crossing it.  Nevertheless, we reached our lodge in about an hour, and reminisced on the day's activities while enjoying the chewy goodness of a special Cliff Protein Bar in the candle light before heading to bed for the night.

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