Friday, 29 September 2006

la Selva

Just returned from a week in the forest. Picaflor Reserach Centre is basically a family home complete with a two year old called Picitto. As the only volunteer for most of the week I had to help out with building a new chicken house, pumping water etc. I also spent a lot of time out in the forest mostly in the 1km square that Picaflor own, including tuesday night at the Cassita, a small hut they built in the middle of the forest.

The main house is three stilthouses linked by walkways a central area with kitchen, bathrooms and library, a family wing and a guest bungalow. it is a nice mix of the traditional style for the area (thatched roof, wooden walls) and new ideas ( electric lights from solar power cells just outside).

On monday I went out with Laurel the director of the centre to the boundary of the Concesion Conservacion which they manage. It took about 9 hours in total including a visit to an illegal logging camp at the far edge of the concesion. slightly disapointed to learn that the Cusco road was only another 3 hours further so this isn´t deep forest but apparently the national park proper is completely closed to people, except possibly some uncontacted tribes. On tuesday I got a short visit to an oxbow lake but didn´t see any giant otters.

The forest is quite different to those I have seen in Asia being almost totally flat and with well marked trails at least within the private land.

I haven´t seen quite as much wildlife as I´d hoped but did see Capybara, brown capuchin monkeys and agouti and paca near the house.

I was able to get free lifts in and out with the boat from the neighbouring tourist lodge so didn´t take the local taxi boat which apparently takes a full day for the journey we did in a few hours.

Amazon Wildlife

On returning to Puerto I decided to treat myself to one night at a high price hotel 36 USD!! for which I get a very clean private cabin with hot water, cable tv and a minibar and breakfast and airport transfer included. It´s a surreal experience to step form a hotel that could be in Europe onto the mud street outside and dodge the feral dogs and even more feral motorbike drivers. Tommorrow I fly to Cusco and get back to roughing it.

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