Living the Fitzcarraldo dream …
Flanked on both sides by rainforest and occasional Cocama Indian settlements, we sailed for 3 days down the Amazon river and several smaller tributaries to conduct biodiversity research in Pithecia, a remote area in the heart of the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve, Peru.
Due to the unusually high water levels, we were able to sail much deeper into the rainforest than had been possible on previous expeditions, which offered some unique research opportunities, although it didn’t come without its challenges!
There are two main types of rainforest in Peru; Terra Firma (or upload rainforest) and Varzea (or flooded rainforest). Pithecia is located in the latter and during high water season, heavy rainfall in the Andes outside of the river basin means that river levels are around 8 metres higher than during low season; a situation which gives rise to a unique and strangely mystical flooded forest environment. A mosaic of greens and alive with all manner of brightly coloured birds, low lying trees and branches overhang endless channels and pools of water; their roots submerged deep below. Higher up in the canopy, monkeys chatter to one another as they gather fruits, whilst the air is alive with the screech of macaws and the haunting call of the howler monkey.
The Samiria is a black-water river system, so the water is naturally dark brown in colour; providing ideal cover for the Piraña and Caimen which lurk below. Indeed one of my favourite research activities was paddling through low hanging flooded forest at night, alive with the sound of 1000 insects, in an effort to catch Caimen to weigh and sex them.
Charlotte Gale, Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve, Peruvian Amazon
About me: I am a geography graduate with a passion for travel and photography. My constant desire to discover new places and cultures and to get off the beaten track has lead me to explore large parts of Africa, Asia, Australasia & New Zealand, South America, Europe and the Middle East. Following a 6 year career in internet marketing, I now run a successful photography business, whilst also continuing to do a small amount of eMarketing consultancy work.
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