Travels with V
Peru & Ecuador
A day in the jungle
La Selva part three
There’s a couple of monkeys living in the jungle surrounding La Selva. We’ve always had a soft spot for our ancestors, and there are five different species here. We spot four of them, one of the cutest actually right by the Lodge, a family of white-tailed titis.
The fully grown white-tailed titi is about half a metre tall not counting the tail. Their backs are grey but the front has a nice rusty colour, and there’s a white stripe across the forehead. We see them at different times, always two parents and a cub.
A larger monkey is the red howler monkey, a bit smaller than the black one, and very elusive. We only see them from a long distance, at night they’re just like a lump up in some tree far away.
And once we see the tiny pygmy marmoset running like a rat up a tree trunk. And not far away from that encounter we discover a wolly monkey hiding high up in the canopy. The largest animal we spot in the jungle.
Bird life in the La Selva jungle is abundant, and many of the names of the different species are impossible to remember. But some stand out. Hoatzis live where the little river meets the lake. The hoatzi is a big colourful floppy bird, but a bad flyer, so it doesn’t move around much.
We see a large kingfisher, the largest in the world says our guide. And a woodpecker with a punky hairdo. A kind of tucans are quite common, as is the black vulture, but that one we saw often in Peru.
And one day when it rains, the bush in front of our balcony is filled with black birds sitting close together, probably to keep warm. They look at us and seem to be begging: -Can we please come in? When the rain stops they all fly in different directions. They are ani, a kind of cuckoo.
It’s our last day in La Selva, and we do a final canoe excursion by the shores of the lake, with a detour into the little river. In the night stillness there are lots of sounds from birds and insects, but far far away we hear a hollow sound like strong wind through trees. After a while it’s more like the howls of unsavory spirits. The red howler monkeys are starting up their night concert.
When the last of the daylight has gone we see flashes in the riverbanks, the reflections of our torches in the eyes of a caiman hiding in the reeds. We approach paddling slowly, cameras clicking. But when we’re almost right by it, the caiman suddenly dives and is gone.
To stay in the jungle like this, with birds and monkeys, caimans and pirañas as next door neighbours, is unbeatable. We want to stay, but have to embark on what we guess will probably be the most dangerous part of our journey.
Next chapter: We’re trapped in bus limbo! But are temporarily released to discover the secret behind the Panama hat.
Coming soon to this space!