Jungle Life: Part Three

*this is the third in a four part series, detailing my time volunteering in Manu National Park in Peru in January this year. A new chapter will be posted every Monday*

 Part Three: Conservation Work

By Morgan Pettersson

Today started early with a seven am hike to the big waterfall.

It took about an hour and a half to get there and most of the volunteers came along.

The big waterfall

It was in ways easier than the first trek we did, it started with a steep uphill climb but then went downhill and hit a river and walked through/followed the river the rest of the way.

This trek was also easier in many ways as there was no awkward jungle vine incident.

Although in saying that just before we reached the waterfall we came across two sheer rock faces that needed to be climbed.

The first had a rope attached all the way down that we used to climb/pull ourselves up.

The second was back to basics rock climbing up the cliff face, which was much easier on the way up than on the way down.

The journey to get there was worth it in the end as the waterfall was so beautiful.

Double the size of the smaller waterfall the power and majestic nature of the water cascading down the rock face was a reminder that nothing we humans can create can beat what nature already has.

We hung out at the waterfall for a little while, with some of the volunteers showering under the waterfall.

I decided that there would be nothing worse than walking back through a humid jungle soaking wet so decided not to participate in running around under the waterfall.

The trek back was horrible.

Having skipped breakfast I felt weak and off balance and kept slipping and falling over.

The more I did the angrier I became with myself for being so weak.

Finally we returned to camp, not before I took a bad step and ended up neck deep in the river.

Upon returning we received our first volunteer task, to re path some of the rock walkway to the dorms.

The existing rocks had sunk into the mud and it was now hard to walk down the path.

Jungle skills lacking

We were really excited about starting to volunteer finally.

That was until the sun burst through the clouds for the first time on the trip making the day ten degrees hotter.

But that was what we were there for so we soldiered on.

In order to collect the rocks for the path we had to walk down the rivers edge, collect rocks from the river bed and carry them back up to the camp.

This took us about two hours of work, and everyone is feeling the pain today.

A negative about being in the jungle is that all of your clothes end up damp and wet and dirty, and its almost impossible to keep things dry.

I also appear to be a mosquito destination, with hundreds of bites all over me.

It doesn’t matter what kind of repellent I apply they still attack me constantly.

Welcome to the Jungle!

Next day:

Waking up this morning was magical, at 7am the mist from the over night rains still hadn’t cleared and hung low over the tree tops, creating a mystical illusion which took me back to my childhood in a strange way.

Today we were planting trees along the butterfly trail and monitoring wildlife.

The reason for planting the native trees is to try to regenerate the forest.

Alvaro was leading the expedition and as we were trekking we came upon a big, old tree on the side of the path.

He then proceeded to inform us that trees have energy, and that they need to have our energy transferred to them to stop them being struck by lighting in a storm.

Or something like that.

We were not allowed to pass until we had hugged the tree, and he had taken a photo of us doing so to remember the occasion.

The tree planting was great, as we felt once again that we were actually doing something, although as so many of us went on the trek it didn’t take us too long to plant them all.

The animal monitoring was also a great success, as we spotted three monkeys in the wild.

Big black shaggy monkeys, I am still not sure what species they were but I found a note in my journal that says Wolly Monkeys, were sitting high in the tree tops.

It was an unforgettable moment to witness them in the wild completely oblivious to your presence.

That was until we realised Chiko, the young male monkey who lives at the camp, had followed us on the trek, eager to not be left behind.

Welcome to the Jungle

Chiko became a little over excited by the other monkeys, and we were in risk of them being scared away, or having them attack us/Chiko.

Since he was bred in captivity, Chiko had never really developed his jungle skills.

It is quite normal to walk around the camp to find Chiko attempting to climb a tree or tree branch, that is not strong enough to hold him and to watch it slowly bend and him swinging around in mid air with a confused look on his face waiting for someone to rescue him.

Chicko has become extremely attached to my friend Felicity who has a similar hair colour to Chiko.

We tried trekking to the little waterfall the other day and he came with us and basically attacked felicity, so we had to leave and try to avoid him on the way back.

He would ambush her as she was passing by a tree and attach himself to her head with his tail, when she tried to get him off he bit her.

It seems the love story between them has soured.

Such a shame.

Later at five we are heading to the big rock trail where Alvaro found Jaguar tracks yesterday.

The big, deep prints indicate an old male, which is worrying as it is just down stream from the camp.

Apparently if being chased by a jaguar you should take off your shirt and throw it behind you to distract it.

This would also give the Jaguar your scent, and would therefore make it easier for it to locate you after the shirt delayed it.

Alvaro finished his great Jaguar advice but proclaiming that I should have no problems remembering the shirt part.

*next week: The final chapter in the jungle life story, swimming in the river, a walk into the nearest town and saying goodbye to the jungle*

2 Responses to “Jungle Life: Part Three”
  1. Rich Travels says:

    The last line cracked me up having read your previous post about the Tarzan vine swing 🙂

    Here is my latest entry for you to read. If you like it, let me know.
    Trekking Through Rice and Mountains in Northern Laos

    Looking forward to reading your last entry!

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