23 June 2014

Peru: Day 12: Lake Sandoval and more!

Wake up was supposed to be at 5am, but most of the lodges woke up at 4.30 to a woman's voice screaming 'Oh my God!' The screaming was not followed by the sounds of growling or ripping flesh, so I didn't get too worried. I got out of bed, put on my clothes in the dark, and made my way to the dining lodge for breakfast. Sleepy-eyed people trickled in, but none admitted to being the one who screamed. Which makes sense, I guess. If I were the one who screamed, I'd deny it too.

At 6am, we met at the Eco lodge, swapped out our shoes for rubber boots, and hopped in the boat for a short trip downstream to the Lake Sandoval trailhead. Our lodge sits in a buffer zone between 'regular use' areas of the jungle and 'research only' areas of the jungle, and the lake sits just inside the 'research only' area. It was a muddy 3km hike from the river bank to the lake, but we took our time. Dino was our guide, and he showed us lots of wildlife along the way:

Our muddy trail

Once we reached the lake, we hopped in a rowboat to tool along the bank, spying turtles, cayman, birds, butterflies, bats, and river otters!

After the hike, we returned to the lodges, and I took a shower before lunch. After lunch and a siesta, we boarded the boats again to go a little further downstream to a canopy walk that our resort put together with an NGO and some academic institutions. We climbed about 150 feet in the air and walked through the treetops on a series of swinging canopies. Most of the life and energy in the rain forest happens high above the ground, and we got a chance to see it first hand. Despite being up high and in the thick of foliage, we didn't see many animals. D explained later that this was because there are so many noisy groups of tourists (including lots of school groups) coming through, the animals have learned to steer clear.

After the canopy walk, we had a short break, just enough time to get a Pisco Sour at the hotel bar. Then, as soon as the sun set, we gathered again for our finals excursion of the day, a night hike for critters and insects. Dino took S, Jim, Linda, and I on a walk of the grounds, stopping on occasion to see tiger spiders, tarantulas, and other insects.

Tomorrow, J and L are leaving, so we have D all to ourselves. S and I met with him to make a plan for tomorrow, and when that was done, we headed to the lodge for dinner.

At dinner, we dined with Julie and Grace, two women from the Bay Area in CA, who had hiked the Inca Trail and were now having a few days of r&r before returning home. G went to Drake U, and two of her cousins went to Grinnell. We had a good time sharing Peru stories and talking about life back in the states. Dinner tonight was tasty - I had a kale quiche and a baked fish (complemented by two Pisco sours, complements of our waiter from last night, who felt bad about some poor service). Another nice meal!

All of our new friends here are leaving tomorrow, so S and I are headed to sleep to get some rest before our day with D. Hasta mañana!



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