Traveling down the Alto Madre de Dios River through the Manu Valley jungle, thunder rolling in the distance, we stopped to trek along the perimeter of an Oxbow lake, sighting the pre-historic looking Hoatzin (aka Stink Bird), with small claws on the bend of each wing, spiky yellow and red head crested punkish-looking feathers that overshadow its small head, a blue face, maroon eyes, a couple of feet in length, with a hoarse and unmelodic call, some of them engaging in suggestive activity atop tree branches across the lake. We encountered Bullet ants, one inch long, whose bites can induce a 24 hour fever and were were followed by a caiman, whose head barely broke the lake’s surface, eyes on us, his broad menacing head staring at us, gliding alongside us.
At 4:15 a.m. one morning. we boated downriver to the Trocha Gaucamayo Macaw Lick and its blind, allowing for viewing of the squawking Scarlet Macaws and the more cheerful, but still loud, chirping of the green feathered Orange-Cheeked Parakeets and the brilliant green Mealy Amazon Parrots, all of them digging their bills into the clay to gather sodium not available in their normal diet. A later visit at night to a tapir lick proved unsuccessful due to a torrential downpour, dissuading the tapirs from showing up.
The highlight of another Oxbow lake was Piranha fishing from a simple, open, wooden raft afloat with pontoons, sporting benches for our benefit and oared by two locals. Several of us caught and released a number of these sharp-toothed fish. However, we failed to see the elusive Giant Otter, only 250 left in all of Peru, down from 40,000 60 years ago. A grand time in all!