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Come with me to Peru, Part 2

A belated continuation of my travels to Manu National Park in Peru.

Me posing with a wild tagua palm. I was so, so thrilled to be able to see tagua in its native habitat and to get the chance to learn so much more about it.

A raw tagua nut – still in liquid state. And my blue dyed avatar hands. The dye was from a native fruit - a really interesting material. The fruit juices were clear when we put them on - in a few hours the dyes reacted with our skin and turned us deep indigo blue. Everywhere. It was supposed to last 2-3 days but instead lingered over a week - making going through customs/security to get back into the U.S. quite entertaining.

This is what the pod that holds a single tagua nut looks like.

Many of those pods are together in a big grouping - hard and strong like a mace. In rich soils, like along the river, these pods can grow to massive sizes, holding hundreds of nuts.

Obligatory rainforest explorer photo - tagua palm!

Yes, I'm a dork, and proud of it! The dye deepened in color with time. It was quite striking when we made it back to the city - many people in Cuzco were quite amused. Most people (even locals) did not know what the dye was - not many people venture into Manu and very few know of this particular fruit. Only a handful of the guides are familiar with it - so it was quite a unique experience! After about two weeks it had faded enough to make me look like I was a leprous bruise-covered crazy, again quite avoided at the gym. One really nice thing about the dye is that it is a natural mosquito repellent - really useful indeed!

Coca tea - great for waking up in the morning. Fox approved.

This was a tree which was being eaten from the inside out by some sort of fungus(hollow so you could walk through it) which smelled strongly of garlic. The whole tree inside (you could see up almost to the top) was hollowed out, though it was still alive.

Wild macaw trio.

The trees are just all so... massive and impressive!

The night walks were probably my favorite adventure in the forest - though our group was amazingly unenthusiastic and most people stayed back at the huts. I have no idea why! Mbala, EK, and myself took advantage of the time to go out with our guide. Here is a poison dart frog we spotted almost as soon as we left our camp.

Gorgeous giant moth.

Everything is bigger in the rainforest. :>

Sleeping bird we stumbled upon.

I was so happy that I spotted this guy (myself!) - it's actually easier to see wildlife at night - you can scan the forest with a flashlight near your line of vision and look for eyeshine, then follow and investigate. The forest is alive with spider eyes, it's crazy.

I was the only one excited to see tarantulas - it was amazing to see them in the wild.

They were actually incredibly shy - they would dart back into their holes as soon as we found them. Our guide was able to tempt them out of their holes with a small stick, pretending to be a floundering bug at the entrance of their hideouts.

My kind of rose!

These guys were quite huge - they were called 'night spiders' - they worked in the evening putting up a web and then took it down each morning. It was fascinating watching them work.

Hard at work.

Really cool vine.


There were three of these guys that I could see, chilling out at the edge of the river.

All the foliage is so well worn. Things really have to work to survive the competition of the rainforest - it's such a drastically different place than the manicured gardens favored by most people.

Scale for just how huge these root systems were. They towered over us!

Tiny snake! We saw lots of different colubrids walking around at night.

Next up : Andean mountain hike to Machu Pichu


( 38 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 21st, 2010 02:07 am (UTC)
Awesome pics!!! What an amazing trip to go on. Your very lucky!! :D I'd love to do something like that someday!!
Jul. 21st, 2010 02:08 am (UTC)
Yes we would :3
Jul. 21st, 2010 02:21 am (UTC)
I highly recommend it - Peru is an incredible place!
Jul. 21st, 2010 02:08 am (UTC)
Amazing pictures~!!! glad to see you had a fantastic time :)
Jul. 21st, 2010 02:13 am (UTC)
Elegant trogon! Amazing!
Jul. 21st, 2010 02:25 am (UTC)
I should have known that! Thank you for the I.D. We saw a log of trogons on the trip - in the cloud forest on the way down there was a male and female masked trogon - I was super excited when I first saw the green (was thinking quetzel) but wasn't dissapointed at the find. :) I am sure there were a zillion birds that we missed - they can be so hard to spot in the canopy. Hummingbirds galore (including a long-tailed slyph!) and tons of birds of prey. Mostly familiar - I forget that there are ospreys, turkey vultures, etc. all over the place since they move about. For some reason I expected just to see exotic raptors. I know a lot of people go to Peru just for the birding - Manu national park is supposed to have the highest avian biodiversity in the world - and from just the small snippet we saw I believe it!
Jul. 21st, 2010 07:27 am (UTC)
I was wondering which trogon specie it was! I wish I had more overly complete bird books :P It reminded me of a Pavonine Quetzal but those don't have a white stripe on their chest.

I love these photos, thanks for sharing :)
Jul. 21st, 2010 01:46 pm (UTC)
I'm amazed!
Could it be blue-crowned trogon? Identifying birds from right under them is a strange experience. :)
Jul. 21st, 2010 05:57 pm (UTC)
The barring on the tail looks more like a collared torgon (http://www.amigosdesiankaan.org/eng/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/collared-trogon-trogon-collaris.jpg) to me. A little too broad for an elegant trogon you think?
Jul. 21st, 2010 06:09 pm (UTC)
Yeah. Just checked the elegant trogon range and they don't range further south than Costa Rica and aren't found in Peru. I'm also inclined to think collared over blue-crowned because of the very obvious white stripe on the breast.
Jul. 21st, 2010 11:38 pm (UTC)
Yeah, you're right on that!
Jul. 21st, 2010 02:15 am (UTC)
Wow.. so jealous
Jul. 21st, 2010 02:19 am (UTC)
Awesome pictures, that really was quite an adventure!
Jul. 21st, 2010 02:51 am (UTC)
You're making me so want to got to Peru!!! Love all the bug pictures:)
Jul. 21st, 2010 02:52 am (UTC)
looks like a fantastic and very fun time :D
Jul. 21st, 2010 02:52 am (UTC)
Wow Fox! Amazing photos. I'm pretty envious. :)

Thank you for sharing.
Jul. 21st, 2010 02:57 am (UTC)

Looks like a Brazilian black tarantula at a glance (The first two anyway), you lucky lady.
Jul. 22nd, 2010 02:11 am (UTC)
I was the only one who was genuinely excited about the spiders - I had the luck to spend some time really watching a big female wolf spider go about her business for about a half an hour, it was absolutely fascinating. It was a treat to see them all, they were absolutely everywhere in every shape and size!
Jul. 21st, 2010 03:09 am (UTC)
Thank you so much for sharing these!
Jul. 21st, 2010 04:41 am (UTC)
You look great in indigo face-dye!

It's funny... I look at these pictures and I feel like I ought to miss the tropics, but I don't. North is better (for some :).
Jul. 22nd, 2010 02:12 am (UTC)
I am much more a cold weather person myself - if I could live up near the treeline, I would! I admit I loved Peru (there were a lot of very cold areas because of the altitude and snow/glaciers up in the high Andes) - much moreso than I had expected to, but I agree the north is better for some!
Jul. 21st, 2010 05:47 am (UTC)
All those animals, wow, it's awesome. The trogon, the snakes, the poison dart frog (!!!), the tarantulas. And wow, the plantlife there is freaking amazing! Those trees, and leaves and and and!!!

Thank you so much for sharing these. :D
Jul. 21st, 2010 07:31 am (UTC)
It really seems to be a marvelous adventure and looks like so much of fun. How long did you stay there? I would have probably dyed my entire body blue as a guarantee I won't get eaten by swarms of mozzies. ;)
Jul. 22nd, 2010 02:13 am (UTC)
We were there two weeks - one spent in the rainforest and the other hiking in the Andes. :) We did end up dyeing ourselves pretty much completely blue - it was quite an effective repellent against the mosquitos but unfortunately did not work against the horseflies! Those guys were almost worse - they hurt like heck and left little bleeding wounds everywhere. At least I didn't get a botfly!!
Jul. 22nd, 2010 08:04 am (UTC)
Horseflies can be definitely a big pain. There are different types of them and the largest I have every seen was at a place near mine. The flies would have fit in my palm just perfectly. Luckily I didn't have any contact with them as I once got chased by hprseflies and I really now how much a bite hurts. *___*

lol I would rather get eaten by horseflies than finding one botfly sitting on my arm!
Jul. 21st, 2010 10:41 am (UTC)
Wow!!! Looks really awesome ... I wish I could visit a place like that, but I think I'd get too worried about all those arachnids! XD (I love moths however ;)
Jul. 22nd, 2010 02:14 am (UTC)
We did have quite a few arachnaphobes with us, but they kind of got used to them after awhile - at a respectable distance of course! It helps that the spiders are super shy, they just try to run away from people.
Jul. 22nd, 2010 10:30 am (UTC)
Right, right ... well, I don't think I could define myself 'arachnophobe', since I used to capture spiders and scorpions here (but many European species are harmless, that's why); Those exotic species scare me because I don't know their reaction and their poisonous effects: bright colours are clear warnings to me. :P XD

BTW, Here they say that spiders bring good luck ... that's why I respect them so much! ;D
Jul. 21st, 2010 11:50 am (UTC)
Wow! Looks like an awesome trip!
Jul. 21st, 2010 12:02 pm (UTC)
wow, thanks for sharing!
Jul. 21st, 2010 05:08 pm (UTC)
So amazing! I can't believe how huge the trees are.
Jul. 21st, 2010 05:53 pm (UTC)
Ehehe, capybara's always looks so aloof XD

Yay trogon! (Looks like a Collared Trogon.) I'd love to see one in the wild!!

So much awesome wildlife!
Jul. 22nd, 2010 02:17 am (UTC)
Capybaras know they are so superior! Manu was a mecca for wildlife - as soon as we entered the protected area the difference was incredible. Most tourists don't go that far and the traffic is very minimal - strictly enforced anti-poaching and the secluded/difficult to reach areas help a lot - I highly recommend it if you're looking to ever visit the rainforest again!
Jul. 21st, 2010 06:49 pm (UTC)
You should have brought the Capybara back for me. I would have named him Steve and kept him forever! <3
Jul. 22nd, 2010 02:15 am (UTC)
It would be awesome to have a capbybara for a butler - just tie a tray to its back and let it wander the house carrying drinks. I can see one mingling with Claire and Ada in your home. ;)
Jul. 21st, 2010 11:38 pm (UTC)
The colours are so fantastic in these! It always amazes me the scale of height that is reached in rainforests - it must be a very magnificent feeling indeed to be able to be standing next to such giants!

Thanks for sharing your great photos!
Jul. 22nd, 2010 09:38 am (UTC)
I love that dye. :D That's awesomely amusing (plus it would be pretty cool at a howl or something).

Spider eyeshine...That's mind-blowing.
Jul. 22nd, 2010 01:53 pm (UTC)
Amazing stuff!
And mosquito repellent is definitely good.
( 38 comments — Leave a comment )