A Mud Bath with my Viking Friends

It is was during the month of November that my ‘Viking friends’ as I like to fondly call them (they are from Northumbria, the northeast of England and quite possibly descendants of the vikings indeed), friends from my adolescent days in the UK very long ago, arrived for their holiday in Cusco. After seeing the main sites and staying with us at Andean Spirit Lodge I took them to the rainforest. We focused on two areas: the Chuncho Macaw Clay Lick and Lake Sandoval in the Tambopata Reserve.

We had arrived in Puerto Maldonado a day after an intense rain fall in both the Puno mountains and in the rainforest and as we arrived at our Lodge near the Tambopata Reserve we saw signs the river having swollen and sunk again about 30 feet. To get from the river to the Lodge we had to negotiate some quite muddy bits. On our forest walk we waded through a lot of puddles, too.

However, this was fairly harmless in comparison that they look after what was in store for us the next day when a journey of 1 ½ hours on the river brought to the Chuncho clay lick. We waded through knee-deep mud to get there and the usual walk of five minutes turned into about half an hour. Our plastic chairs sank with us into the mud as we sat and waited in suspension. At first there were only a few parrots and macaws shyly waiting on some of the nearby trees. It looked as if we were going to be disappointed. We returned to the boat for breakfast and then once more negotiated our way back through the mud and were delighted to see that first a lonesome Blue-and-Yellow Macaw and then both the Scarlet Macaws and the Red-and-Green Macaws were coming down to feed on the clay as the rain shower had cleared. What an amzaing sight, so well worth the long wait and mud-bath! On the way back downriver we saw a capibara on the riverbank almost posing for us amongst other animals (we saw some Sideneck Turtles and we had also fleetingly spotted a Red Brocket Deer coming out of the forest at our Lodge.

The second part of our journey took us to the beautiful Lake Sandoval, a former meander of the Madre de Dios River, flanked by Mauritia palm trees. Most of our time there we spent paddling in a boat looking for wildlife from the lake. We were blessed to see a family of Giant Otters, Black Caimans, Duski Titi Monkeys, Red Howler Monkeys, Brown Capuchin Monkeys, Squirrel Monkeys, and Agoutis.

We also saw a number of interesting birds, like the weird and wonderful Hoatzin, also known as the ‘stink bird’ and the ‘punk bird’ because of his red eyes and blue  face and striking hairdo.
Dawn and dusk were our favourite times to spend on the Lake as the pink light made the scenery very atmospheric.
What a great trip we had, sharing wildlife, adventures and laughter. I secretely hope that the lassies will return for another mud bath before long!

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