Manu National Park, Amazonia Rainforest Lodge
July 31, 2015
It was an early morning today – breakfast at 5 AM and then leaving at 5:30. We gathered all our day gear and walked through the lodge grounds to the river then boarded the same boats that dropped us off yesterday – they will stay with us for a few days. We retraced our route back up the Alto Madre del Dios River for about a half-hour, past the same roiling shallow water. As we boated the sunrise painted the sky a beautiful orange and red. We soon found our destination – a macaw clay lick high on the side of a cliff on the opposite side of the river. There were already many people hunkered on benches under the palms at the viewing area watching the Blue-headed, Chestnut-fronted, and Yellow-crowned and other macaws and parrots so we opted for standing nearby. The clay lick was quite far – about 150 yards, but we got a decent look at the birds with the scope. The macaws come here to eat clay to get calcium and other minerals that are not supplied by their diet of palm nuts and fruits. After about a half-hour of watching the macaw flocks noisily coming and going we left in the boat again.
Heading back downriver, we stopped along the bank and all piled out again. We walked through the rocky-bottomed forest – you could tell that at one time the river meandered here washing away the topsoil and exposing the cobbles. First we walked through another very tall bamboo forest with shoots about twenty-feet tall. Then we continued through a forest full of interesting things to look at. It was now 8 AM and hot and muggy. After about 45 minutes we arrived at a small oxbow lake. The river travels a very small gradient in these parts and as the river swells during the high water season it changes course to find the path of least resistance. Oxbow lakes are formed as the water recedes and some of the curves are isolated from the main river trapping the water into a lake. This is a very common occurrence throughout the Amazon Basin. Our group spread out between four home-made balsa wood rafts with log benches. Steve, Doug, and I tried to board several rafts but each one we tried didn’t support us, sinking enough so water poured up between the logs not giving us a dry footing. Always enterprising, Satu tied two rafts together with his shoelace and an old piece of wire to make a double-wide raft. It was quite comical, but successful! Each raft was propelled via pole held by a navigator/pole-man. We found many Hoatzin, a chicken-sized bird in a very nice color scheme of various browns with a rust crown and blue eye-ring, making it one of my favorites. They were roosting in a tight row, like they prefer, on railings set out for that purpose. We also found Horned Screamers high in the top of a tree that treated us to their loud call. After our lagoon tour, we retraced our track out of the forest back to the river, and boated back to the lodge, arriving about 11:30 AM.
We ate lunch at noon and had the afternoon off to do as we pleased. It was nice to have some time to relax and catch up on chores. Steve and I managed a nap – the bed was very uncomfortable and I slept terrible the night before. Afterwards, we ate dinner and packed up our luggage.