Thursday, October 31, 2013

Amazon Dreams - The Last of the Adventure

Hey all,

This is the last of the blogs about our trip into the Amazon.  I could take weeks to really tell you everything we did, but I figure you all can just take so many home movie type blogs before you start pulling your hair out and run screaming into the street.

Anyway, this blog is to show pictures of all the animals, reptiles, birds and insects we saw on our trip, but while my camera takes pretty good scenery pics, anything moving is a challenge.  I did get a few though, so I'll share them, then, add a few pics from the internet of critters I saw.

Looking for fauna (the fancy name for critters and such) was one of the high points of our trip.  We each had our binoculars, and by the time the journey was over, I felt like they were a part of me, I'd worn them around my neck so much.  In fact, when we got back to "civilization" I kept reaching for them whenever I saw a bird fly by.  I felt naked when I realized they weren't there.  LOL  As you can see in the picture above, I'm totally stylin'!  *snort*

From day one we saw things.  We hadn't been on the boat an hour when we saw our first pink dolphins breach next to the boat.  Sixteen people rushed to the side of the boat excited to see the famous denizen of the river.  (I almost freaked, thinking the boat was going to tip over.)

But it was only one of dozens of sightings.  A day didn't go by when the beautiful animals didn't show themselves.  One morning we even saw a mother and baby playing around the canoes.  Awesome!  And when we traversed the meeting of the waters--where the sand-colored Amazon and the dark tea-colored Rio Negro run side by side and do not mix--we were joined by several grey dolphins leaping at the bow of the ship.  What an experience!

We also saw birds by the hundreds.  Parrots of all kinds, scarlet macaws, toucans, herons--including the tiger rufescent (an absolutely beautiful bird), hummingbirds, woodpeckers and creepers, hawks and kingfishers just to name a few.  (See below for some of those pics)

A Flock of Hoatzin, one of the prettiest birds we saw in the jungle.
Whenever we saw a scarlet macaw they were always flying.

These are Rufescent Tiger Heron.  Another gorgeous bird.

A bird we saw many, many times.  The Amazon Kingfisher.

Another bird we saw several times a day.  The festive parrot.  We always knew when they were around.  You could hear them for miles!

I loved the canoe rides and birds were everywhere.  I got whiplash most days just looking at them.  We were even fortunate to see the endangered Harpy eagle sitting in a tree over one of the smaller rivers.  So majestic and lofty.

We saw our share of reptiles, too.  Both black and speckled cayman (kinda like alligators), a beautiful tree boa (or anaconda) curled up in the branches of a low hanging tree over the water, and also a Northern cayman lizard, which is similar to an iguana, but blends in well amongst the green and brown of the trees.

This was a small speckled cayman, one of about a dozen we saw during our trip.

This beautiful snake just hung in the tree as we drifted by.  A remarkable sight.

The Northern cayman lizard.  It may look like an iguana, but once you get close you can see the differences.  It looks even more like a dinosaur.

Insects were also everywhere.  Beautiful butterflies, dragonflies, ants--bullet, soldier, and leaf cutters, tarantulas, moths (some that were as lovely as butterflies), and some insects I still am not sure exactly what they were.

The Morpho butterfly, one of many we saw over the week.  The vibrant color is beyond amazing.

These leaf cutter ants are one of my favorite insects.  They carry bits of leaves, flower, and fruit sometimes five times bigger than themselves.

This insect showed up on the boat one night.  According to our insect book, it was a grasshopper, but a different order called Pyrgomorph.

The guides even had a "pet" tarantula who'd lived in the same hole for years.  They'd tap at the entrance and he'd come out to play. *shudder*  I DID NOT get a good pic of him.  This is courtesy of a friend who was NOT afraid.  LOL

We saw monkeys swinging through the trees, whole troops of them.  They'd stop and stare at us, before disappearing into the leaves again.  Every morning as we headed out in canoes, we were greeted by the howler monkeys hooting and hollering to wake the jungle up.  The noise they make is amazing.  Totally freaky and worthy of every zombie movie written.

This common spider monkey was a hoot to watch.  They are really amazing acrobats.  Cirque people could learn a lot by watching them!

Listen to the howler monkeys.  You'll see why I think the sounds are perfect for a horror movie.

And of course there were the sloths, so cute and sleepy looking, but they can move pretty quickly when they wanted to.  We saw quite a few of them on different days, but it was the last day where we got the really good look.  The one we saw the most of was the three toed, brown throated variety.  Both male and female.  I was so jazzed to see them in the wild.

But, as I promised, it's time to share the animal I was most excited to see.  I was so completely tickled about it, I wanted to dance.  (Not good when you're in a tiny little canoe!) It happened one morning as we were sliding quietly up a small channel.  We always try to be silent, waiting for anything that might appear.  When suddenly we heard this small yip.  Almost a bark.  Then, out of nowhere up popped the head of a giant Amazon river otter.   He saw us and stopped dead in the water, staring.  All around us we heard more otters as they chattered and barked and yipped at each other.  Then the otter sank back into the water and disappeared.

As you can imagine, we were all really jazzed.  But it still wasn't over.  We sat for about ten minutes in dead silence.  And it paid off when the rest of the otters made their way across the river in front of us.  I don't remember how many there were, but once they saw us, most of them dropped out of sight.  Just a few kept watch, rising almost to their back legs out of the water.  That was pretty cool.  When the rest of the family had gotten safely across, the larger otters took one last look at us, flipped us a tail and sank out of sight.
The one critter I'd really wanted to see, and I saw it!  A real dream come true.

I could go on and on.  I could tell you about the bats that came to visit each evening, and the invasion of the flying ants that attacked us our second night out and literally blanketed the whole deck of the boat. *creepy*  Or Rocket, the pet frog that lived in our bathroom.

Then there was the cane toad that was as big as a grapefruit and sounded like Lou Rawls with a head cold.  Add the screeching of the Amazon Bamboo Rat and the squealing vocalization of Peckeries, and we had quite an orchestra!

And go to these links for the last two...

Bamboo Rat -
Peckeries -

If you're into reptiles I could tell you about the Jesus Christ lizard who waved as he sprinted across the water next to our canoe.  Or the skipping fish, who--you guessed it--skipped instead of swam around the boat. 
Or, if you like adventure stories, I could tell you about one of our boatmen who, for a treat, decided to go catch a speckled cayman for us. 

In the swamp.


True story!!!!!

As you can see, if you love nature and all it's possibilities, this is a once in a lifetime trip.  We'd go back in a heartbeat, even stay upriver in one of the villages for awhile.  I'd never run out of inspiration, that I can promise you!

Anyway, I'll be back next Thursday with a fun blog about toilet seats, or the lack thereof.  

Have an awesome rest of your week!


CJ England

Follow Your Dreams


Phylis said...

Wow CJ! The movies do not do the howlers justice! Very creepy! Thanks for sharing the pictures and the videos! I really enjoyed seeing the Amazon through your eyes!

HEX said...

cool! wish can be there too..

CJ England said...

I know, Phylis, right? Can't you see yourself walking along a trail, then you hear this noise... Your blood freezes and you look around in disbelief. And then it happens. Howler monkey zombies.... The last adventure you'll ever hear!!!! LOL

CJ England said...

Thanks, FreakVector! Glad you stopped by!

Ray said...

Thanks CJ. I just love dolphins. I used to watch them for hours while the ships we were refueling/resupplying were alongside. They love to play between the ships.

That translation of concordar to agree makes sense. Agree - concur. The same works for me in Spanish. The words may not translate to a popular English word, but there is almost always something that makes word understandable.

CJ England said...

I agree, Ray. I've found that I do most of my translating not just by the words I've learned, say in Portuguese, but other root words in Latin, Italian or French. Some is guesswork, but it's amazing how much I get right, just by know other languages.