Today our group woke up for an early morning canoe trip. We saw three different types of monkeys hanging around! We saw spider monkeys swinging through the trees and even got to see a baby spider monkey. Then we saw a woolly monkey relaxing by the edge of the water. We also saw some tamarins high up in the trees. We were so excited that we got to see so many!
We then went to have breakfast before our next hike. We took canoes up the Napo river to an area where our guide knew that we would be able to hike to a waterfall that we could swim in. Before the hike we spotted a whiptail scorpion which looks like the scariest creature ever, not to mention that horrifying name… but our guide assured us that they are super friendly! I held it, and it was truly so nice and gentle. The hike to the waterfall was very muddy and slippery but we finally made it. When we got there we were able to hop in, and everyone couldn’t wait since we were sweating from the hike (it’s hot there, and you have to wear long sleeves and pants when parading through the jungle)! I have never swam in a waterfall before and I have always wanted to. It was a fantastic experience. Some of us swam close to the waterfall and climbed up on the rocks right next to it. It was surreal. After swimming for a while, we hiked back down to the river.
Next, we got to check something off our bucket list that we didn’t even know was on it… tubing down the Napo river surrounded by jungle on both sides! We didn’t even have to sign waivers or anything… they just tossed us a tube and a life jacket and we were on our way!
(waterfall picture left to right: Lauren Lairson, Eric Ostrander, Emily McCue, Brandon Pollard, Gabrielle Muntean, Nandini Mishra, Collin McManus, Isis Zhang) (tube: Lauren Lairson, Emily McCue)
Later that day we visited a tribe on the Napo river, the Napo Rumi. They showed us how they pan for gold in the river, make the classic alcoholic drink chicha de yuca, and craft pottery. We also got to try using a blowgun! Visiting the tribe was an interesting experience. It almost felt weird to visit them– like we were intruding on their lives. However, the tribe only shows you what they want to, and tourists help bring them money and appreciation of their culture. It did seem like they enjoyed sharing the traditions of their people with us. At this site, we were lucky to spot an amazing occurrence! We saw a tarantula hawk– a giant wasp– attack and paralyze a tarantula before literally dragging the huge spider off to it’s burrow. The wasp will lay its egg on the tarantula, and the larva will eat the tarantula from the inside out. Turns out there are scarier things than tarantulas in the Amazon!!
That night, we caught bats with the help of a bat researcher studying bioacoustics. We got to touch them– they are super soft! One of the bats we caught was pregnant which was really cool.