transfer to Hotel
Breakfast at the hotel. Transfer back to the airport. Fly to Iquitos. Transfer from the airport to the port of Iquitos.
After lunch we travel by boat up the Amazon and then take an eastern tributary, known as the Tahuayo River. The Tahuayo leads into the heart of the ACRCTT. Only Amazonia Expeditions has tourist facilities with access to this magnificent reserve, Peru's first state reserve. The ACRCTT includes 1.1 million acres (1600 square miles) of precious, ecologically diverse western Amazon rainforest. The ACRCTT was originally designated a reserve by the Peruvian government in 1991 to protect the range of the red uakari monkey, an orangutan-looking monkey with a bright red face. Subsequent scientific research has found one of the world's richest variety of plants, amphibians, mammals (including 16 species of primates--the greatest diversity found in any reserve in the world), reptiles and birds. In 2003, Chicago's Field Museum's Rapid Biology Inventory #11 found more species of mammals and trees in the ACRCTT than any other documented natural area in the entire world fieldmuseum.org esp.pdf.
We arrive at the jungle lodge by dinner. Orientation to the lodge, includes assigning cabin bungalows and introduction to the dining hall, reading rooms, hammock room, library and other facilities. The lodge was rated as one of the "ten best wilderness lodges in the world" by Outside Magazine.
Evening excursion by boat to see caiman crocodiles and tree boas.
An orientation to the ACRCTT, ecological and species diversity.Before breakfast birdwatching along restinga ecosystems. Many birds get cold during the jungle's 12 hour night. So at dawn many species will perch on tree limbs along the banks of the rivers, to catch the sun's rays and warm up. On a typical short morning excursion by boat we can spot dozens of different species of birds.
After breakfast visit to our canopy zipline system. To reach the canopy system we hike through varzea ecosystem, noting such species as wire-tailed manakins and pygmy marmosets. Ascend into the canopy onto platforms and use ziplines to travel to various canopy platforms. This is the longest canopy zipline in the Amazon. It is not like the canopy ziplines of Central America, which are more like amusement park rides, but rather an immersion in nature as you slowly wend your way through the Amazon canopy, 100 feet above the forest floor, without the visual obstruction of a walkway. For your safety you are supported by two stainless steel cables; the only double cable canopy system in the world. From the canopy system we can view the makeup of a neotropical forest at the height of biodiversity, witnessing more than a hundred different species of trees from one viewpoint.
After lunch visit Huasi Lake to learn about the formation of cocha lake ecosystems and to swim with pink dolphins. This lake is high in phenyolic chemicals leached from trees.
These antimicrobial compounds make the lake safe for swimming. It was here that Sy Montgomery studied the pink dolphins to write her two books about these fascinating freshwater mammals. After supper evening excursion to see nocturnal birds such as paraques, potoos, nightjars, night herons and owls.
Day 4-???? (can be as short as 1 day or as long as 14 days)
Travel upriver 15 km to the Research Center Lodge. It has classification as a research facility and has a formal relationship with Yale University School of Forestry (Amity Doolittle, Ph.D., advisor). En route we will have an opportunity to see toucans, sloths, bats and monkeys.
The main attraction at the Research Center lodge is the trail grid behind the lodge, which covers 52 miles spread over 1000 acres. The trail grid is the largest trail system in the Amazon, and the only one laid out in a fashion to facilitate transect sampling. The trail grid consists of 52 miles of trails covering over 1000 acres, laid out in 100 square meter quadrants. The trail system is laid out in grid fashion to facilitate transect sampling, allowing participants to participate in collecting data that will address the fundamental scientific question posed by the biodiversity of the Amazon. Nearly every book written about Amazonian ecology and biodiversity mention the problem of why is there so many species, filling essentially the same niches, and why so many are rare or uncommon species. It is a phenomenon that is not well understood or predicted by modern application of evolutionary/ecological theory. For a long time it was thought that Jurgen Haffner's speculation that the Amazon was broken up into many forested islands surrounded by a savanna during the recent Pleistocene might account for this, but cored pollen data by Paul Collinvaux, which showed that the Amazon remained well forested during the Pleistocene as well as studies on molecular genetics which show that the origins of Amazonian biodiversity predate the Pleistocene have revealed Haffner's thesis to be untenable. What we lack to get a real handle on this problem, though, is sufficient raw data on population dynamics, simply collected by walking transect lines and noting the species seen.
The data collected from this grid will help to address this basic scientific problem. Besides groups of students to work the grid there are also native workers on the grid. These are former hunters and loggers from the Tahuayo village communities who agreed to cease logging and hunting in the reserve in exchange for training and employment as conservation assistants. Students will be able to interact with the natives and assess how a conservation program can offer a sustainable economic alternative to logging/hunting.
The trail grid is also the best opportunity in the Amazon for viewing primates in their natural environment. Over 40 troops of monkeys, representing 13 species, live on the grid, as well as many other mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates. The effect of students working on the grid also has the effect of habituating the primates, which makes research on their sociobiology and conservation managment possible. For students or teachers who wish a Jane Goodall or Dyan Fossey like experience of habituated wild primates, this is the foremost opportunity offered in the Amazon.
Jaguars are occasionally seen on the trail grid. In the summer of 2011 a network of motion activated cameras will be installed to monitor the movements of this important key species. Students can participate in downloading and analysis of this data.
Next to last day
After lunch return to the main lodge, stopping en route for boat excursion into tahuampa and renacal ecosystems to see forest dominated by strangler figs as well as resident hoatzins and hormed screamers.
After supper farewell fiesta.
Before breakfast, fishing for piranha.
After breakfast hike to see giant kapok trees. Monkeys may be seen along the way.
Afternoon return to Iquitos by boat. Brief tour of Iquitos city and markets, such as the "witches" marketplace of potions made wih native plants. Transfer to airport. Fly Iquitos-Lima-USA.
All photos by Alfredo Dosantos
Biological Research Coordinato
Tahuayo River Amazon Research Center