Sunday, August 14, 2011

August 14 - Day 9

This morning wake up call again at – quick breakfast and by 545AM we were back in the canoe traveling to the Observation Tower.   Again, I did not do this but…..It was a short, ten minute walk through the forest to the 30m (100ft) tree tower, built around a giant, emergent Kapok tree.  Looking out across the rainforest canopy at this level, gives you a unique perspective, opening up a whole new world of Amazon biodiversity that is often difficult, if not impossible to see.  The group did see the White-throated Toucan, some Red Howler Monkeys as well as a Harpy Eagle at quite the distance.  We returned to the lodge to pick up our lunch and we set off for Panacocha in search for Pink Dolphin.  Panacocha is a protected forest reserve, (56,000 has) and is central to a biological corridor linking Yasuní National Park and the Cuyabeno Wildlife Refuge.  Panacocha is classified as a Humid Tropical Forest.  The canoe ride was about 2 – 2 ½ hours on the Napo River, just as we started to travel into the lagoon the rain started.  We all got our ponchos on and by the time we got into the lagoon it was really coming down good.  This was our 1st rain during the day that we have had on the entire trip.  But this is the less rainy season for the Amazon. . . . The rain was started to let up and we saw them – two pink dolphins, a mama and her baby!  We were all very excited to see this.  We traveled into the lagoon a bit more, for another 30 minutes or so, the rain had stopped so we ate our lunch.  By now the sun was shining and Beth, Kate, Eric & Fredy decided to dive into to lagoon for a swim – they swam a bit and the rain started coming down again and hard.  They loaded back into the canoe and off we went back to the lodge.  I believe it rained until we got back to where we had to pay to go into Panacocha; we were all wet and cold it was a long journey back to Sani on the Napo River!  We got back to the area where we have the 20 minute walk to the canal and they rain had stopped, finally.  We all boarded our canoe and as our guide Fredy got in, he said he tripped on a nail but….he fell out of the canoe and into the canal!  Needless to say all we could do at this point was to laugh.  His face was priceless!  Got back to the lodge and changed clothes and a cup of coffee was in order as we were cold – followed closely by a beer or two as today was Kate’s 30th birthday.  We had a cake made for her and surprised her at dinner – a little special birthday present in the Amazon!  After dinner we met with the general manager of Sani Lodge, Freddy.  He explained how he taught himself to speak English and how he started out as a guide at the lodge.  The community assists all the children with school as well as any medical issues.  They have two schools one on each side of the river for the kids.  There are about 130 students near Sani Lodge and about 20 students on the other side of the river.  Here we did not have enough time to visit the community as we did at Kapawi or Huaorani or even Napo.  There are over 400 members of the comuna who make their living by subsistence agriculture and hunting as well as working for Sani Lodge and other lodges in the area.  They lived for many years in the Amazon Jungle an along the banks of the Rio Napo, accumulating experience and knowledge in forest living.  They have an incredible knowledge of medicine plants, trees and lianas as well as wild life in the forest.   Finished up about 1030PM and bed time!

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