Monday, February 6, 2012

Ecuador - Day 5

Just like yesterday, we slept in a bit today and didn't climb into the canoe until around 7:30AM.  The plan today was to head down the main creek to a remote trail and hike that trail for a few hours looking for some of the rarer monkeys.  It was overcast and drizzling as we set out down the main creek.

The wildlife sightings were down a bit due to the weather but we did see a pair of Piping Guan. They were up high and back lit which didn't make for great pictures.

A little further down the creek we encountered the Giant Otters again.  The weather didn't seem to bother them as they swam along ahead of our canoe:
Giant River Otter

Instead of continuing to swim away, this time they all bolted for the shore and took off into the jungle.  We did get fleeting glimpses of all four out of the water which helped to see just how huge they really are.

Further down the creek, the rain stopped and the monkeys came out.  We got great looks at White-fronted Capuchin Monkeys:
White-fronted Capuchin Monkey

The break in the weather was short lived.  By the time the canoe pulled up to the river bank at the trail head the rain was coming down again.  But, we weren't going to let the rain get in our way so we headed out on the hike.  As it turns out, we got soaked on this three hour hike.  But, the experience was worth it.  How many people can say that they followed a machete wielding guide through the slippery and muddy Amazon jungle in search of animals with the rain pouring down around them...?

As it turns out, we did find one of the rarer monkeys on this hike.  It's called a Woolly Monkey and we got a couple fleeting glimpses of a small family.  This female with baby was the only one who posed for pictures though:
Woolly Monkey

One of the events that made this whole trip special happened on this hike.  After seeing the Woolly Monkeys, our guides picked up the trail of a pack of White-lipped peccaries.  They showed us the prints in the mud and said that we weren't far behind.  So, we set off tracking peccaries again.  From time to time we would notice our guide wiping his hand on the trunks of trees and smelling it to see how fresh the peccary scent was...these guys were incredible.

As we got closer, we could see movement through the undergrowth and see fast moving snouts and hind legs.  The alarm calls went out when our presence was discovered and the peccaries would stampede around but there were so many of them that we always were close to a few.  In fact, at one point they ran closer to us and we finally got clear looks at a few of them as they stared us down:
White-lipped Peccary

This moment only lasted about 30 seconds before the herd turned and moved away.  Our guides estimated that there were between 75 and 100 peccaries in total which is a huge herd.  In fact, at dinner that night Delfin confided in us that when the peccaries started to come closer to us he got worried.  There are stories of White-lipped Peccaries becoming aggressive and attacking people and even though he had never experienced it he was looking for nearby trees to climb just in case.  Luckily, our tree climbing skills were not needed.

The hike back to the canoe was at a quicker pace because the rain was still coming down and we were quite water logged.  Karen was smart and had brought a walking stick with her.  After enduring multiple major slips, I found a stick that would work for me as well.  I am proud to say that I didn't end up falling once during this challenging up and down muddy hike.  Karen however did fall on her butt once.  But, as fast as she went down, she was up again even faster with only a muddy left cheek as a reminder.  Once in the canoe the rain let up a bit but the wildlife was still in hiding.  We did manage to see our first Laughing Falcon taking shelter from the rain on the trip back.

As we approached the lodge, we saw people on the shore beneath our cabin.  It looked like there was a snake about.  So, we hustled out of the canoe and joined the crowd.  One of the gardeners had found a Green Anaconda by the lake.  It was a small one at only four feet long but it was still a thrill to see:
Green Anaconda

Green Anaconda

After a couple minutes, all of the other guests left and we knew the Anaconda would likely move back towards the water.  So, we decided to take some video since we love watching the way snakes move.

The wet flowers around our cabin also made for some nice pictures:
Rainforest Color

After drying off and spending a few hours around the lodge, we set out for our 2nd activity of the day which was a night canoe paddle.  The rain had stopped which made the trip much more enjoyable.  We started the trip out at dusk and ended it in the pitch dark.  We ended up having some pretty good luck:

Capped Heron:
Capped Heron

Black-skinned Parrot Snake (Our second of the trip)
Black-skinned Parrot Snake

Clown Tree Frog:
Clown Tree Frog

We also saw a few glowing eyes belonging to Black Caiman which is a pretty eerie sight since they just float there staring at you.

The day ended with a quick night hike around the lodge which didn't yield more than a millipede, a walking stick, and a frog.   But, the day itself was very memorable.

No comments: