It is currently December 15th, 2017, 1:40 pm

All times are UTC - 8 hours




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 14 posts ] 
Author Message
 Post subject: Amazonia (Peru) July 2013 – (1) herp-free intro
PostPosted: August 20th, 2013, 5:58 am 
User avatar

Joined: June 29th, 2011, 12:56 am
Posts: 777
Location: Belgium
! Warning : this post is annoyingly long, and contains no (real) herp shots.

This is part 1 of the report and features the description of the trip (including the story of an unfortunate snake bite). Hopefully you will appreciate it the way it is meant - as a sizeable teaser for part 2 which will be online soon and which will show the herpetofauna.

[edit - here is the second part = herps]

The Amazon rainforest!

After 15 years dedicated to seeing the entire European herpetofauna, I wanted more. Two great trips to the USA (CA, AZ) made me a regular visitor of FHF. The Peruvian posts by Matt Cage provided the spark. The large and colourful diversity in his posts & the possibility to search for some of the most charismatic herp species in the planet’s most iconic ecosystem, convinced me to travel to the same place. Devon Graham from http://amazon-ecotours.com (Margarita Tours) and http://www.projectamazonas.org/ (Project Amazonas) was kind enough to organise a customised and dedicated fieldherping trip for us.

A precise list of observed species will most likely never be achieved, but our species count totals at around 120 species. This was a spectacular trip which we will all remember for the rest of our lives. There is nothing quite like it. It’s fantastic.

Image
me, Gilberto (cook), Peter, Frank, Bobby, Edwin (outstanding(!) herping guide) & Luis (general guide & translator) - © anonymous local man

Image

Image

Image

The starting point for our travels is the jungle city of Iquitos, situated in the northeast of Peru, along the Amazon river. Getting there from Europe takes a while (= 30hrs).

Image
approaching Iquitos (see ‘Genaro Herrera, Peru’ in Google Earth) – © Bobby Bok

With about half a million inhabitants, the city is labelled as the largest city in the world which cannot be reached by any road. This city is a busy and sometimes smelly place which I found especially agreeable in the evening. Local transportation happens mainly by moto-taxi, which is fun. Coming in from Brussels over Madrid and Lima, we landed in Iquitos a little after noon on July 6th, after which we were taken straight to the Amazon river and started off to our first stay at the Santa Cruz station. To get there, we first had a speedboat take us to Baradero along the Amazon (about 1h), from where we had mototaxi taking us across a land bridge to the town of Mazán (about 45’), and finally a slower boat ride on the Río Mazán to Santa Cruz (1h). By the time we had taken all the stuff from the boat, it was dark so we only took the most necessary things on foot through the forest to our camp (45’).

Image

Image
on the road to Mazán


© Peter Engelen

CAMP 1: Santa Cruz
We spent 4 nights at this camp. The accommodation (wooden cabins with mosquito-netted beds, a kitchen, showers, toilet) fitted our needs perfectly and is illustrated in the pictures. The camp allows for plenty of hikes in primary rainforest and has a dam and pond right next to it. This pond proved to be a very interesting habitat, especially after dark, with numerous frog species calling and showing themselves. Special mention has to be made of my first ever crocodilian observations, the variable and colourful clown treefrogs (Dendropsophus leucophyllatus and D. triangulum) and the monkey frogs, with the main attraction being the friendly giant, called giant monkey frog (Phyllomedusa bicolour). The highlight of the first night was a striped forest tree viper (Bothriopsis bilineata) which was also found right in camp, at just ten or twenty meters from our beds. We hiked day and (mainly) night and after 4 or so days we were already at more than 50 species. It was also already during our third night that we found what is likely thé highlight of the trip and most likely one of the major highlights of all our herping careers – like nature’s little landmine, a calm and quiet Bushmaster (Lachesis muta) was lying all curled up right on the trail. The joy of that moment cannot (ever?) be beaten.

Image
arrival at Santa Cruz

Image

Image
kids in the kitchen

Image
and so it begins… - Frank and Bobby grabbing some critter during our first night hike

Image
Santa Cruz pond - excellent herp habitat

Image
primary rainforest – dark, even at noon

Image
© Frank Deschandol

Image
© Frank Deschandol

Image
Heliconia - © Frank Deschandol

Image
trying to recover a snake the kids spotted

Image

Image
Phyllomedusa bicolor and me - © Bobby Bok

Image
the most memorable moment of the trip – © Nina from NY

A very scary incident & an unscheduled stop in Iquitos
While I clearly want to stress that our guide Edwin was a tremendous help in finding and catching animals, his slight lack of more professional herpetological knowledge did have a nasty effect during what involuntarily became our final night in Santa Cruz. A snake very much resembling the Black-headed Calico Snake (Oxyrhopus (melanogenys) vanidicus) I had caught two nights earlier was found, while Bobby and I were again at the pond (frog boys vs. snake boys). As the snake was passed on, it bit Frank in the finger. The animal’s jumpy behaviour then made Peter realize that they had all failed to identify this snake as the dangerous coral snake it truly was – a beautiful but highly venomous Micrurus hemprichii. Frank soon experienced a lot of pain and passed out for a while. Edwin and Luis tried to arrange for a boat to take Frank as soon as possible to an Iquitos hospital. Before reaching the city, Frank’s situation had deteriorated dramatically, up to the point where he could hardly breathe. The rest of us were forced to stay in Santa Cruz, helplessly waiting in terror. The next day, we felt huge relieve to hear that Frank’s situation had stabilised and that he was going to make it. We all went back to Iquitos. Paying the hospital bills and related costs was quite a mess, but in the end & only one night later, we were reunited and able to leave for Sabalillo all together. Lessons learned the hard way: if you go herping in a new area, learn as much as you can about the local snake fauna, never handle snakes barehanded in an area where you are insufficiently familiar with the local species (but use the common snake-handling tools), always be sceptical towards any identification, ... Needless to say, this was a close call and we are very, very, very happy it ended so well.

Image
carrying Frank to the boat – © Peter Engelen

Image
still alive! – © Peter Engelen

CAMP 2: Sabalillo
Still somewhat shocked by the bite incident, we were really tired when arriving after dark at Sabalillo along the Río Apayacu, a rather small northern tributary of the Amazon river. This was the most primitive of our stays (e.g., bathroom = river, toilet = hole in the ground), but I loved it for its tranquillity. We stayed here for 4 nights. Here, we found our first Amazon Tree Boa (Corallus hortulanus, but could not catch it), two species of tiny but much appreciated poison-dart frogs (Ranitomeya spp.) and plenty of other species including the much desired Surinam Toad (Pipa pipa). The way we finally 'found' a gladiator treefrog (Hypsiboas boans) is also both funny and memorable. After several days of herping, swimming, a nice visit to a local town and a memorable frisbee match with the children of the lodge’s keeper, we decided we’d like to move on to the final, more accommodating camp, Madre Selva.

Image
on the mighty Amazon once more

Image

Image
late arrival

Image

Image

Image

Image
© Peter Engelen

Image
Frank, Bobby and Anolis transversalis

Image
© Frank Deschandol

Image
in reticulata habitat

Image

Image
© Peter Engelen

Image
dishes and laundry

Image
a good education is worth a lot

Image

Image

Image
Hypsiboas boans and me - © Bobby Bok



CAMP 3: Madre Selva
Because this site’s list of known species is the longest (surely biased by observer effects), we decided to spend most of our time here. We spend 8 nights of our time here. This is the largest, most developed, site. During the 4 first nights, we shared the large camp with a group of American students and their mentors (including Devon Graham). The 4 final days were much more calmer, as we had the site all to ourselves – just the 7 of us (4 Euro boys and 3 Peruvian helpers). Herpwise, our high expectations were perhaps not entirely met, but we sure also had some fantastic herp encounter here. Highlights include the extremely cute Bolitoglossas, the Common Harlequin Toad (Atelopus spumarius), a lot more beautiful Hypsiboas frogs, numerous tree boas, Aquatic Coral Snakes (Micrurus surinamensis), a big fer-de-lance (Bothrops atrox), the cutest turtle in the world (matamata (Chelus fimbriatus), and Peter finally managing to catch a huge Spectacled Caiman (Caiman crocodilus). Both before and after our time here, we had the pleasure of seeing a Green Iguana (Iguana iguana) along the larger rivers.

Image

Image

Image

Image
Casa Bob & Jer

Image
“Bushmeister”

Image

Image
© Bobby Bok

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image
© Peter Engelen

Image
Bobby loves Bolito

Image
Bob & smoky jungle frog

Image

Image


Image

Image
© Frank Deschandol

A final night in Iquitos and back home
Because of a rather early flight to Lima, we had to spend our final night in Iquitos. A copious dinner and a crazy night out with our Peruvian friends Edwin and Luis made for the perfect end to an unforgettable trip.

Image
garden of Hospedaje La Pascana with some frogs and geckoes

Image


Top
 Profile WWW 
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: Amazonia (Peru) July 2013 – (1) herp-free intro
PostPosted: August 20th, 2013, 9:47 am 
User avatar

Joined: November 25th, 2010, 2:00 pm
Posts: 405
Location: Long Beach, CA
Jeroen,
I really can't wait for the next post and the herp photos to come. Looks like an exciting and eventful trip so far. I'm always so weary of touching anything when I'm out like that. Even when I'm 99% sure of grabbing something, I hesitate just in case. Tough lesson learned but stoked that your boy made it through that. Any ill effects afterwards?


Top
 Profile WWW 
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: Amazonia (Peru) July 2013 – (1) herp-free intro
PostPosted: August 20th, 2013, 9:57 am 
User avatar

Joined: January 8th, 2011, 5:51 am
Posts: 380
Location: NY
Great teaser post Jeroen! I'm excited to see the herp shots (especially the corals and more of the bushmaster)!

Unfortunate incident with the bite... SA has many species that are very difficult to identify and, unlike the US, the tropical corals can be extremely varied in coloration and pattern. The mis-id and bite reminds me of what had happened to Dr. Joe Slowinski. Lucky he [Frank] fully recovered... did he end up with any nerve damage at all?

Overall the post is pretty great! I love seeing some of the "travel" aspects... it all brings back fond memories. I love the walking palm and ceiba pics.

And if it's of any interest, your primate is a Brown-mantled Tamarin (Saguinus fucicollis) and your clearwing appears to be a satyr (Cithaerias sp.).


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: Amazonia (Peru) July 2013 – (1) herp-free intro
PostPosted: August 20th, 2013, 12:05 pm 
User avatar

Joined: June 12th, 2010, 9:28 am
Posts: 572
Location: Monterey Peninsula, CA
Yow, that snake bite incident sounds terrifying. I'm really glad that it ended well, and that you all got to enjoy the rest of your trip. This overview of your trip was very fun to read and brought back lots of memories, of course. Looking forward to the herps!

John


Top
 Profile WWW 
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: Amazonia (Peru) July 2013 – (1) herp-free intro
PostPosted: August 20th, 2013, 12:20 pm 
User avatar

Joined: June 12th, 2010, 9:28 am
Posts: 572
Location: Monterey Peninsula, CA
Now wait just a minute... "Wear nothing but underwear day"?

I think this needs further explanation.

John


Top
 Profile WWW 
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: Amazonia (Peru) July 2013 – (1) herp-free intro
PostPosted: August 20th, 2013, 12:26 pm 
User avatar

Joined: June 9th, 2010, 6:38 am
Posts: 201
Location: Canada
Great into! Can't wait to see the rest, and I'm thinking about an Amazon trip at this very moment thanks to you!!! I'm really looking forward to the Bothriopsis photo.

Jon


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: Amazonia (Peru) July 2013 – (1) herp-free intro
PostPosted: August 21st, 2013, 4:05 pm 
User avatar

Joined: June 7th, 2010, 6:28 am
Posts: 1855
Location: FL Keys
Best Amazon post ever! (I don't even care if I see the animals...this was a perfect, perfect account.)

Tim


Top
 Profile WWW 
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: Amazonia (Peru) July 2013 – (1) herp-free intro
PostPosted: August 22nd, 2013, 2:04 am 
User avatar

Joined: June 29th, 2011, 12:56 am
Posts: 777
Location: Belgium
Thanks for all the kind comments!

Frank did not suffer any further consequences. As soon as we hit the jungle again, he was herping as avidly as always :). After a couple of days, he even caught a largish Bothrops.

In the mean time, however, I have been told that it was not very wise of the hospital to let him leave so soon, as coral snake bites can cause collapse after 3 days or so... :?: . I was also told that it has been suggested that hemprichii venom might not be as potent as that of some other species. I intend to find out more.

Ribbit wrote:
Now wait just a minute... "Wear nothing but underwear day"?

The nonsensical left side of that board was mainly abused by a tall Dutchman who coped with the tropical heat and humidity by a complex method to keep his clothes dry, more commonly known as: not wearing them. Please don't make me explain more, it's just to embarrassing ;) :lol:


Top
 Profile WWW 
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: Amazonia (Peru) July 2013 – (1) herp-free intro
PostPosted: August 22nd, 2013, 4:51 am 
User avatar

Joined: June 7th, 2010, 4:26 am
Posts: 3420
Location: Illinois
Ok you have me hooked don't delay on getting more of this trip up here.


Top
 Profile WWW 
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: Amazonia (Peru) July 2013 – (1) herp-free intro
PostPosted: August 22nd, 2013, 7:13 am 
User avatar

Joined: June 29th, 2011, 12:56 am
Posts: 777
Location: Belgium
justinm wrote:
Ok you have me hooked don't delay on getting more of this trip up here.


As you wish, here it is.


Top
 Profile WWW 
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: Amazonia (Peru) July 2013 – (1) herp-free intro
PostPosted: August 22nd, 2013, 10:36 am 

Joined: June 7th, 2010, 12:04 pm
Posts: 127
Location: Denver, CO
Jeroen

Wow, great account! It appears that you had a great time! I'm glad it all came together well. Also glad Frank was able to recover quickly and enjoy the rest of his vacation.

I'm about to start part 2 now!

Matt


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: Amazonia (Peru) July 2013 – (1) herp-free intro
PostPosted: August 25th, 2013, 1:47 pm 
User avatar

Joined: June 7th, 2010, 6:14 pm
Posts: 1018
Location: Pacific Northwest
Wow, how did I miss this... As others have said, glad to hear that your buddy recovered fully from the bite. This post is an awesome introduction post, and I like the scenery and stories with just a hint of what we can expect in the 2nd part, thanks for sharing.


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: Amazonia (Peru) July 2013 – (1) herp-free intro
PostPosted: August 26th, 2013, 6:15 am 
User avatar

Joined: August 16th, 2010, 6:02 am
Posts: 93
Location: Massachusetts
Excellent post, thank you! Brings me back to when I was there almost 10 years ago now.

So glad to hear the bite incident turned out ok.
Now onto the next post...


Top
 Profile WWW 
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: Amazonia (Peru) July 2013 – (1) herp-free intro
PostPosted: August 26th, 2013, 6:19 am 
User avatar

Joined: June 29th, 2011, 12:56 am
Posts: 777
Location: Belgium
chrisr wrote:
Now onto the next post...

It's already here ;)


Top
 Profile WWW 
Reply with quote  
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 14 posts ] 

All times are UTC - 8 hours


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot] and 20 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
cron