Sunday, March 22, 2009

PERU: IN THE LEAFY TREETOPS (It's a Jungle Out There, Part Two)

On our last day in the jungle, we took a canopy walk. We climbed a humongous wooden tower (more than 200 steps) to a platform that was connected by rope and board suspension bridges to observation platforms built 102 feet above the ground. Altogether there were seven bridges with a total length of 1,135 feet. The system was built by Inkaterra Ecological Reserve (our hosts) in partnership with National Geographic and World Bank.
On the observation platforms, we were on level with the tops of the trees. The Inkaterra literature says: "Inkaterra Canopy is considered to be one of the most modern and sophisticated in the world, both due to its camouflage design and because the specialists who built it used ecological materials to prevent negative impact on the environment. The canopy walk enables visitors to enjoy an in-depth look at one of the most productive ecosystems in the rainforest: an enormous food factory where key events for the development of life come together."

One of the preconceptions I had before this trip was that the Amazon jungle was teeming with visible life, that a visitor would be surrounded by birds, monkeys, and all kinds of other animals. After all, millions of species are found there, and many of the new species discoveries are made in the Amazon. Nowhere would this seem to be more true than in the canopy, where 35% of Peru's bird species are supposed to live. Strangely enough, we saw very few, possibly because we were there in the heat of the afternoon. In fact, we see more birds in our backyard in Redlands than we saw on this jaunt!

But while the lack of animal sightings disappointed, the experience as a whole did not. Again, we had the little-kid feeling. It was like Disneyland's Swiss Family Robinson Tree House (now replaced by Tarzan), only a hundred times better.
The bridges varied in length, from quite short (50 yards?) to very long. Only two of us at a time were allowed on a bridge. We heard another group who was also in the canopy while we were there, but the bridge system is so large that we only caught glimpses of them.
Pretty darn fun. Some day I'd like to be there at 5:00 a.m., or maybe even at midnight.
We returned to our cabanas for a rest, then went on one final excursion, a night cruise along the riverbank of the Madre de Dios River. Our expectations were high since the group that went out the previous night had seen a sloth, a capybara, a caiman, and some monkeys. However, the only thing we saw was near the end of the trip--a caiman hidden in the reeds. Still, the ride was refreshing with a cool breeze created by the motion of the boat and a wonderful view of a gorgeous night sky unimpeded by city lights.
We caught a plane to Lima via Cusco the next morning in the bustling Puerto Maldonado Airport, and from Lima we flew home to LAX.


STILL TO COME:

When You Travel with Bob You Eat Interesting Things
Bugs and Birds and Bats, Oh My!

1 comment:

  1. I would love to experience those bridges--how cool!

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