Monday, 23 June 2014

Amazon Wildlife

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Thursday, 15 May 2014

Amazon Floodplain Adventure

Butterfly, Johnny, Kai, Eileen and Bryan heading into the floods

Buff-necked Ibis

Pink Dolphin
Cayman
Yellow-headed Caracara

Friday, 9 May 2014

What a day!

Iguana
Green Oropendola

Black-headed Araçari

Black vulture


Red-caped Cardinal


Lesser-yellow-headed Vulture

All pictures by me china Bryan Hutchings

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Iguanas


IGUANAS are supreme animals. 
They good looking (well, photogenic! Let's put in that way). 
They were worshipped by many native tribes. 
People say that when they were created god was in a good mood. 
I would like to be able to dive, swim, be wise, run,walk of course too; Climb tree, jump...On the next day God was not in a good mood anymore and the Iguanas asked for two more things: One was to be able to fly and the other was having that thing big. The wise iguana was happy to have included in the first list wisdom.





Thursday, 1 May 2014

Great Latin American journeys ( I'm here too)

2. An Amazon boat trip







By Alex Bellos
Of all the colourful fiestas in South America, a particular favourite of mine is the tropical fish festival of Barcelos. The town splits down the middle - one half paints itself black and yellow, the colours of a local angelfish, and the other half dresses up in red and blue, the colour of the neon cardinal. Both sides clash in an all-night extravaganza of music, dance and debauchery.
But Barcelos is difficult to get to. It is in the middle of the Brazilian Amazon, not connected by road to anywhere nor served by any airline a European traveller would trust. The only way to get there was to sail for 200 miles up the Rio Negro from Manaus.
A few travel agencies in Manaus rent boats for bespoke trips. They cater for scientists wanting to explore flora and fauna and adventurous tourists. The boats offered are mostly wooden craft made in the local style, looking much like riverboats of 100 years ago. I would be travelling with a handful of friends and we decided on a small one - the Iguana slept six passengers and came with a crew of four. The price was very reasonable - about £300 per night all-in, working out at £50 per person.
We arrived one evening at Manaus docks and loaded up the Iguana with ice, drink and food. We set off upriver, watching the lights of the city disappear behind us. When I woke up I looked out of the cabin window. It was one of the most mysteriously beautiful sights I have seen. We were in the middle of a flooded forest, surrounded by the silvery tips of hundreds of trees. The water was still and reflective and there was almost total silence.
Fears that the Amazon would be unbearably hot or irritatingly mosquito-infested were unfounded. The Rio Negro is the colour of Coca-Cola because of sediment that also deprives the water of oxygen - meaning no insects.
The trip was unforgettable. At sunrise we would take small canoes and go birdwatching. In the afternoon we would stop at huge sandbanks, barbecue fish we had caught and play Frisbee. Every day we passed maybe a village or two, some days we saw nobody. Our cook, Doña Graça, had a kitchen so small she barely fitted in it. Yet she made extravagant breakfasts of exotic fruits, three-course meals and kept us supplied with a steady stream of caipirinhas. Our guide, Gil Serique, spoke fluent English. One night we went out with a 14-year-old boy who held a torch in his mouth and speared fish from his canoe. After about a week we reached Barcelos. The tropical fish festival was noisy and chaotic and life-affirming. Yet somehow it didn't live up to the boat journey that got us there.
· To book a bespoke boat trip with guide Gil Serique visit www.gilserique.com Prices depend on length of trip and number of people. Alex Bellos is a former South America correspondent for The Observer and The Guardian

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Another great time in the Amazon: Ecology, History and Wildlife




















Monday, 28 April 2014

Tapajos National, Forest, Belterra, Alter do chao special for cruiser


Alter do Chao, Tapajos National Forest, Beltera
After reading numerous reviews of famous Amazon guide Gil Serique on Trip Advisor, we booked a Meeting of the Waters (Santarem) and Tapajos National Forest (Alter do Chao) excursions with him during our cruise to Brazil in February and March 2014. Our Amazon guide, Gil Serique, is one of those people that truly live up to their reputation and actually deliver more than what they promise. He is the real deal, and a trip with him is a destination in itself. Although this excursion is shown at Santarem on Trip Advisor, we did this tour during our stop at Alter do Chao, where our guide Gil Serique lives. Gil met us at the tender dock with a clean, well maintained, air conditioned multi-passenger van, driven by a very safe and conscientious driver. As soon as we had our group together, we were on our way to the Tapajos National Forest. From the first introduction you know that you are in for a real treat. Gil has an immensely charming, open, enthusiastic and friendly personality that is captivating from the first handshake. He has a very good command of English, is easy to understand, and very approachable for questions. Gil also has a never ending supply of interesting and humorous stories about the Amazon, his family's exploits in the region, and everything you want to know about the history, culture, and nature in the Amazon. Gil told us by email that because of the short time available to us, and the many things he wanted to show us, we would not have time to stop for lunch, but instead he would provide some nuts, fruit, and beverages. What an understatement! When we arrived at the Tapajos National Forest, large platters of pineapple, Brazil nuts, watermelon and many other unfamiliar, but delicious tropical fruits were waiting for us to snack on before heading into the rainforest and a trip to his family's ancestral property, which is now part of the national forest. Gil showed us how rubber is extracted from the trees, and gave us an excellent history of the Brazilian rubber industry, including Henry Ford's failed Fordlandia and Belle Terra rubber plantations. Gil took us to Belle Terra on the way back to Alter do Chao after our rainforest adventure . Gil suggested reading the book "Thief at the End of the World", a novel by Joe Jackson which is a historical account of the theft of Brazilian rubber seeds which had a devastating impact on Brazil's rubber economy. It was good advice. Gil timed our trip so we had time to visit his house on the shore in Alter do Chao, where he treated us to a magnificent platter of fried fish, rice, and vegetables accompanied by wonderful Caipirinhas. If you have the opportunity to do this excursion with Gil Serique, do whatever it takes to make it happen. I also posted a review of our other excursion with Gil Serique, Meeting of the Waters, at Santarem..

Visited March 2014




Maria and Guy at home at Alter do chao as I sign Joe's The Thief




Belterra

Tapajos National Forest

A soy field and a cemitery


"low-impact" logging

from the tower

A brief narrative of a great time in the Amazon


Santarem, Meeting of the Waters
After reading numerous reviews of famous Amazon guide Gil Serique on Trip Advisor, we booked a meeting of the waters (Santarem) and Tapajos National Forest (Alter do Chao) excursions with him in March 2014.  Our Amazon guide, Gil Serique, is one of those people that truly live up to their reputation and actually deliver more than what they promise.  He is the real deal, and a trip with him is a destination in itself.  A trip with Gil should be a "must do" when visiting Santarem or Alter do Chao.  At Santarem, Gil met us at the dock with his chartered boat, and was ready to lead us on our expedition as soon as we got off the cruise ship.  From the first introduction you know that you are in for a real treat. He has an immensely charming, open, enthusiastic and friendly personality that is captivating from the first handshake.  He has a very good command of English, is easy to understand, and very approachable for questions.  Gil also has a never ending supply of interesting and humorous stories about the Amazon, his family's exploits in the region, and everything you want to know about the history, culture, and nature in the Amazon.  The boat he chartered for us far exceeded our expectations, being about the same size as the one used by the ship's excursion, but we only had 14 people plus a very friendly crew on board.  After a stop to see the pink dolphins, we headed into the Amazon flood plain for a full day of seeing the magnificence of this small part of the Amazon basin, meeting to the waters, and a 45 minute canoe trip into the flooded rainforest.  Gil told us by email that because of the short time available to us and the many things he wanted to show us, we would not have time to stop for lunch, but instead he would provide some nuts, fruit, fish bits, and beverages.  What an understatement!  Picture a large platters of cashews and Brazil nuts, pineapple, olives, and perfectly  fried fresh fish nuggets with limes and hot sauce all prepared by his mother-in-law-to-be on the boat.  Beverages were soda, water, beer, and the best Caipirinhas we had in Brazil.  We certainly did not go away hungry.  If you have the opportunity to do this excursion with Gil Serique, do whatever it takes to make it happen.  I will post a review on our excursion with him to the Tapajos National Forest in the Alter do Chao destination.



Maria

a three-toed sloth

leaving to the  flooded forest

Guy and a Sapucaya shell

Pink Dolphin

A kapok tree i used toplay hide and seek