The Heart of Darkness

Our arrival in the rainforest should have been no surprise, a flash of light and a clap of thunder heralded both ours’ and the rain’s arrival. We had deliberately come during the ‘dry season’, but in the rainforest that means little, and this dry season had been one of the wettest on records.

Our first venture out was delayed due to rain (how very British), but we entered our canoes and headed back in to the forest. We were treated to an arial display from the squirrel monkeys who fled our presence. We saw numerous birds flying high above, mainly parrots in vivid blue and birds nesting in black and yellow.

As the sun set, we headed back to base. In the coming days we made numerous excursions into the rainforest and down the river. We saw more wildlife than can be listed, we went out at dusk and fished for piranhas, spotted cayman’s red eyes glaring back at us in the boat. We saw pink river dolphins playing in the distance.

We trekked through the forest and learnt about some of the plants, including trying Jambu – a flower which when eaten makes ones tongue go numb. A native fruit called Caju, similar to a mango. We drank water from a Cipo D’Agua or water vine, which stores water in its vine (it’s in the name). Finally we painted our faces with red stripes with pollen from the Amapa flower, a tradition that indigenous people have done for millennia.

On our final day, after a refreshing kayak and swim in the river, we ventured once more into the forest and camped out overnight, hammock and mozzie net.

All in all it was an amazing experience, without doubt the highlight of our trip to date.

However, it was sad to see the deforestation. And sadder still that in the whole 4 days we never saw an indigenous person. Even when we visited what the trip organisers described as “a native family to see local traditions”. We met one man who moved to the Amazon from the city to make more money hearding cattle and saw the trophy teeth he had kept from a jaguar he shot.

Sadly I feel that this is the new face of the Amazon, certainly without journeying several hundred miles than we did. It was disheartening, but could never dampen the amazement of seeing the Amazon!

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