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Bushwhacking for Camera Traps in Manu Park

by Jason on July 22, 2012

Before coming to Manu Park, I was wondering what bushwhacking through the Amazon Jungle would be like, especially in its most pristine untouched areas. I knew there were jaguars, pumas, peccaries, caimans, sting rays, electric eels, poisonous snakes, spiders, ants and more. We only had GPS to guide us. If we got lost, a search party would have a difficult time finding us. Let’s just say I felt quite nervous going in.

What I’ve experienced is that bushwhacking in the Amazon isn’t too different from bushwhacking in a forest in North America. Sure, all the plant species are different, but I sure didn’t feel any more at danger. The truth is, I haven’t seen anything out bushwhacking. We were barreling through the jungle, so we pretty much scared anything away before we arrived. Seeing a jaguar in the thick of the jungle is about as difficult as seeing a cougar in North America. Or a cougar here too. Encountering a poisonous snake or a boa is about as common as encountering a rattlesnake in Arizona. Not that common.

The most annoying thing so far has been all the trees and plants that have thorns. I have extracted at least 10 thorns, needles and other sharp objects from my hands. What I have learned is that if you trip in the jungle, don’t grab the nearest tree! Most trees don’t have thorns, but the ones that were nearby when I fell most certainly did.

The bugs aren’t all that bad either. Yes, there are mosquitos, flies and such. But it’s not worse than anything I’ve experienced in North America or more specifically, Vancouver. We do have to watch out for the tangarana tree. The tangarana tree is home to a certain species of incredibly aggressive and poisonous ants. You do not want to mess with them. So I don’t.

The jungle we’ve traversed hasn’t been too incredibly thick either. I was expecting areas to be nearly impassable, but that hasn’t been the case. Yes, there is tons of foliage, but many areas we can get by just fine.

That being said, next week we go to Pakeetza, where there is said to be interminable bamboo and swamps fully of mud up to the thigh. So we’ll see how my experience is next week.

We’ve bushwhacked about seven hours per day for three days straight, and we’ve retrieved nine camera traps so far. Today there was a picture of a jaguar in one of the traps. We also saw a deer today. Went thru a small swamp. Crossed a creek and had water enter my boots. The trees today were so amazing. Buttresses extending in all directions as much as 15 feet. Some buttresses were as high as my waist. I felt like I was in Jurassic Park.

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