Just Monkeying Around

May 26, 2010 (Day 8)

I wake up to the sound of an airplane flying right overhead... but is it really an airplane?  We're in the middle of nowhere in the Amazon for crying out loud!  It's pitch black and I'm scrambling in my mosquito-sheet covered bed to find my LED to figure out what the heck is going on.  There it is... I turn it on to brighten up my coffin of a bed and find the matches to light the candles... The stupid waterproof matches won't light up... oh wait, there we go, oh wait the candle wick won't light up.... ughh.. not again....  ahhh, finally, after 4 unsuccessful matches.... candlelight!  The sound changes pitch and it now sounds like the howler monkey we encountered the other day...

It's still dark outside so there's no point of getting up just yet so back to bed for a few minutes before breakfast and our boat ride to the Inka Natura Manu Tented Camp Campamenta Aguajo,

where we went for a hike in the surrounding jungle and came across a multitude of different species of monkeys playing in the trees above.  This was definitely an amazing experience! 
Monkeys were feeding on the fruits, meandering across the canopy, and jumping from branch to branch as we watched in silence while sidestepping falling debris. 
It was funny to see the occasional monkey have its tail caught in the branches as it leapt from tree to tree. I'm not sure if this was intentional or not, yet it was nevertheless fun to watch a monkey untangle itself.  To an untrained photographer, such as myself, with a camera on the fritz, getting good photographs of the constantly moving monkeys was impossible so sometimes, you just have to savour the moment without worrying about taking that perfect shot.

After at least a good 10-15 minutes of monkey watching, we continued with our hike during which we encountered more monkeys making their way through the jungle.
Yes, it's that humid in the Amazon rainforest!  We made our way back to the canoe and continued on to another shoreline and hiked until we reached the oxbow-lake called Cocha Salvador.  We then jumped onto a catamaran paddled by our two boatmen and started our search for Giant River Otters (Pteronura brasiliensis), Caimans, Hoatzins and monkeys.  It was almost mid-day so the likelihood of us seeing the otters was slim so we headed back to the dock.  As we approached, another tour group arrived and provided our first real glimpse into how other Manu Reserve tour operators worked.  The first noticeable thing was the size of their group.  It was at least double our group of five.  And the second thing was they weren't wearing rubber boots.  In fact, one of them mentioned it to the others, "Oh look, they're smart! They're wearing rubber boots!" so I responded by saying that we should actually thank Amazon Trails Peru for providing us with the unadvertised rubber boots.  At that moment, I think the other group wished they went with our company... lol

After lunch, we hiked some more trails through the forest where we encountered this massive tree (which another tour group inexplicably missed on their way to the lake).
After snapping some photos, we continued with our hike and climbed the 18m observation tower at Cocha Otorongo.  Boating is not permitted on this lake so the observation platform was built to provide viewing opportunities of the jungle and lake while creating minimal disturbance to the wildlife.
We saw some birds including the Amazon Kingfisher.

Yes, it's the Amazon Kingfisher.  When in doubt about the name of a somewhat familiar animal, just put "Amazon" in front of it, and 9 times out of 10, you're probably right.  Case in point, when we pointed out to our guide that we have kingfishers in Canada as well, Edouard was curious to know what they were called.  We said, "Kingfishers".  Edouard was like "No, no, what are they called?"  We said again, "Kingfishers." Again, Edouard refused to accept our response. This went on a few more times before we responded, "Canadian Kingfisher!" and finally Edouard acknowledged, "Ahh, Canadian Kingfisher".  LOL

Later that afternoon, we went back to Cocha Otorongo to see if we would have better luck in spotting the otters but to no avail.  But to compensate, we did see some caimans lurking in the water.

We spent our final night in the Amazon once again at the rustic Albergue Matsiguenka.

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