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My Amazon Jungle Adventure in Manu Park in Peru

by Jason on June 27, 2012

The Amazon Jungle had been calling me for years. One place in particular had me mystified and in awe for years — Manu Park in Peru. But there was only one problem. You can’t go there. No one can. Not to the restricted area, which just happens to encompass almost the entire park.

The park is restricted for a reason — to protect the virgin ecosystem inside of the park. Manu is one of the last unscathed regions on the earth. This area has never been raped or pillaged or impacted by humans — which is significant. What this means is that this area is a biodiversity and wildlife hotspot — for the entire world. Manu has more species of animals, plants and heaven knows what else than anywhere else in the world. 1,000 species of birds. Tens of thousands of species of plants. Undiscovered species. Jaguars. Anacondas. Peccaries. Capybaras. Sloths. Emperor capuchin monkeys.

The only problem was I couldn’t get there. I wasn’t allowed. No one was. And for good reason. Except for a few dozen scientific researchers each year that are permitted to study that region. For years, it hadn’t occurred to me that perhaps I could visit this area. I wasn’t a scientific researcher. As far as I knew, Manu was off limits.

Then one day last year a harebrained idea popped into my mind. My Google search began shortly thereafter. I found the name of the research station in Manu — Cocha Cashu. I found the contact information for the station. I sent them email.

I asked one of the researchers if she needed help with one of her scientific projects. I didn’t expect her to say yes. Not so quickly. But she did!! Her response didn’t register with me at first. I didn’t believe what I was hearing. She said she needed help with a project and that she could use me. Really?!!

Could it really be that easy?

For years, I thought this place was off limits to me. No tourists. No people. No nothing. And all I had to do was hop online, perform a Google search and send an email that took me all of 15 minutes to write. That’s all it took?! Really?!!

She said she needed help on a project for six weeks in July 2012. She needed help setting up camera traps deep in the jungle. Camera traps use motion sensors to take photographs of wildlife like jaguars, peccaries, the short-eared dog, and many other elusive species. This is National Geographic territory. And she needed assistants to help set up these camera traps.

What an incredible opportunity!!!!

And luckily, I had a business and a supportive wife that would allow me to go and realize this dream!! I would be going to a place where only a few hundred people in the world have ever been on this planet! I would get to help out on a research project that has significant impact for the Amazon Rainforest. And I would get to experience a whole array of wildlife that I didn’t even know existed. Wow!!!

She told me that from the end of the road, we would have to take a boat two days upstream. Just on the boat ride there, she said that it’s very common to see jaguars along the side of the river banks. She said the rainforest is loud with monkeys, giant river otters and macaws screeching consistently.

She told me that we would be bushwhacking 13 km, 8 miles, a day for 10 days setting up these camera traps. We would need machetes, and we would be traversing up and down hills and wading through swamps.

Wading through swamps? I thought I might ask her how you wade through a swamp safely. She responded as if it was no big deal, like just walking down a street. “Oh,” she said, “first you make sure you have sturdy snake proof rubber boots.” Right, I thought. I’ll just go down to the local store to purchase those!

Then you place a stick in the mud to know how deep the swamp is. Then you scare the water and shake it up a bit to let any animals know you are there. This scares off any unsuspecting wildlife. I asked her what kind of wildlife we might encounter. She listed off the following: caimans (which are like alligators, but smaller,) fresh water sting rays and electric eels. I asked about anacondas. She said anacondas are shy and they stay away from humans. Good to know!!

As I am writing this, I am six days away from my journey. I now have everything prepared. Solar backpack, solar flashlight, DC battery chargers, snake proof rubber boots and a list of other essential gear.

I have learned there are a few rules in the jungle at Cocha Cashu. First, don’t venture into the jungle alone. Second, don’t handle any snakes. Third, wear your snake proof boots at all times, even in the camp area as poisonous snakes do sometimes wander through camp. For me, that sounds like important need-to-know information. I’m glad they didn’t skip over that one!

Anyway, I’m looking forward to the adventure of a lifetime. I will keep everyone updated of my journey as I go along.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Jack Austin June 30, 2012 at 12:01 am

Hey Jason,

Great article. Really excited for you on your adventure. I’m sure the stories will be amazing.

Jack

Reply

Jason June 30, 2012 at 12:09 am

Thank you, Jack!!

Reply

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