Tuesday 4 May 2010

Amazon rainforest - I

Cabañas Shangrila
After 7 hours of driving, most of that time in rain, we climbed the Andes to an altitude of 4100m before descending on the east side to a mere 550m above sea level and arrived at our lodge, Shangrila, overlooking the Amazon rainforest and 100m above the Rio Anzu, a tributary of the River Napo that is itself a tributary of the River Amazon.

On our first evening a local guides takes us on a walk into the rainforest to learn a little about it at first hand. We didn't see much in the way of fauna but lots of interesting examples of flora. As it was getting dark we arrived at the canyon that we were to spend the next hour climbing. The only canyoning I had come across before was going down, this time we were to climb up. About half of us had head torches, a couple had hand torches and a couple no torch of any description. In practice there were only a couple of tricky places but that is a statement in hindsight. We all got very wet and very dirty as we squeezed, and in place it really was a squeeze, our way upwards. It was quite an introduction to the rainforest!

There were several activities that could be undertaken in our days at Shangrila including more canyoning, floating down the river and a visit down the River Napo to the amaZOOnico animal sanctuary. The sanctuary took in native birds and animals that were either injured or had been pets. A quarter of the animals die, a quarter are returned to the wild and the remaining half live out their lives in large cages in the rainforest. A german student volunteer was our guide but we were also accompanied by a bird that thought it was a human.

Some group bonding took place back at the lodge over dinner which was followed by some drinking games. I've no particular desire to be drunk ever again so stuck to drinking beer but the consumption of rum and some unidentified drinks found on the truck left some folks feeling a little the worse for wear. On the plus side we did get to know more about each other :-)

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