May, 2016 — Amazon Jungle Experiences
A visit to the Amazon is like no other. Standing under the tree canopy that envelopes the sky like still birds in flight, a hike through the Amazon jungle is an experience that will be remembered for a lifetime.
Looking up at the jungle sky, the immensity of nature’s prowess and our place in it reminds us that we are quite humble in the beauty of it all. Only our tiny footprints on the leafy ground can reflect back to us the true immensity of where we are amid the vast forest landscape, as the sky traces its memory in our vision with the rays of sunlight through the forest canopy.
Our hike continues as sharp, swift swooshes of a machete echo through the deep Amazon jungle, as an overgrown path is cleared from ever-encroaching plants. Beads of perspiration roll from the face of our guide who pauses with an accustomed ear to a series of bird calls that echo past the horizon like a distant song long forgotten, and only remembered in the moment.
Visiting this majestic region offers amazing experiences while on a wellness adventure including hanging with the locals on guided tours and hikes or relaxing in savasana to breathe in the diverse sounds and rhythms of nature’s largest playground.
The Amazon seasons are divided into the dry and wet season. The dry season runs from July to December and features intense heat and humidity but relatively limited precipitation. Water levels in lakes and rivers recede during these months, exposing trails and beaches while reducing the number of mosquitoes.
The wet season spans January to June when heavy rains contribute to high water levels and flooded forests. Intermittent showers occur nearly every day, so expect to get a bit wet on a regular basis. On the positive side, the rainy season provides better boat access to wetlands and temporarily flooded forests. This makes it easier to cover greater distances on boat tours and see more wildlife in otherwise inaccessible areas.
Hot and humid, the wet season is on its way, so we wake with the birds to make the best of the cool mornings on a typical Amazon journey. We are on a morning hike and the approach of dawn is signaled by the loud clatter of parrots and an increasing crescendo of bird song. So loud is the sound created by the cries of birds, even thought seems to become difficult.
Transfixed, we watch as macaws and toucans fly overhead and smaller brightly colored birds dart in every direction as the jungle takes over and is full of movement. Suddenly, silence falls and as if the birds have gotten over the excitement of the new day, and have off to do their regular jungle business.
Shapes, sound and movements
In the morning twilight, it appears that shapes become more apparent with creatures emerging from the foliage in their unique camouflage among the leaves. An abundance of fungi overwhelm our senses with their perfection and shaped like glassware to take a sip of the morning dew or like bridal flowers, marrying the trees with the ground.
Once the eye becomes adjusted, huge insects, camouflaged into the foliage emerge like primordial beasts and tiptoe through the leaves like kingdom guardians. We learned quickly that crashing noises high the jungle canopy signalled “monkey!” as orange coloured capuchins with dark faces and forearms gaze at us curiously before bounding away.
Tiny black and white Saddle Backed Tamarin, no bigger than cats, jump through the tree tops in family groups. They scamper up trees only to leap like trapeze artists to a neighbouring tree. Amazed and entranced by their performance of acrobatics, we follow them through the jungle like kids at the playground seeing a butterfly for the first time.
Brazil Nut Trees
We approach the edge of the Reserve Zone of the Tambopata National Park, seeing the river edges are farmed as the buffer zones of the national park are constantly under social pressure and struggles of how to use this land. We continue along the path as the paths criss-cross through the forest and bring us side by side of the tall Brazil Nut trees.
Every Brazil nut we eat, is harvested from the wild – as it is not possible to grow the species in plantations. Brazil nuts bring income for many families who harvest the nuts in the wild. Reaching up to fifty metres tall, and living up to 1000 years, the Brazil nut tree is one of the longest living Amazon trees, and certainly one of the most majestic.
The Agouti is an attractive and rodent like animal that furtively visits us along the trails. It has alot of character and a special relationship with the Brazil Nut tree. The agouti gnaws through the hard coconut like shells of the Brazil Nut, for the delicacy of the nut within and by freeing the Brazil nut from the hard casing it allows many new seeds to germinate and bury stores of nuts for the dry season which sometimes grow into trees. They rely on one another for survival in the connective way that nature amazingly operates.
Content to swing in our hammocks after daily yoga classes and resting after hikes, boat rides, optional massages and wellnes therapies and adventures in the region, we truly do remember the immensity of the biodiversity of the Amazon and our experience within it. A chance to leave our urban lives and trample in the jungles and rivers of the Amazon is a great way to get a new perspective.
On our last evening, during the yoga class before we depart, we signal to the trees in our warrior pose stance in grace and gratitude of the beauty and abundance that is before us and reflect on the connectedness of our experience with each other and nature in one of the most dynamic, colorful and musical places on the planet.