Category Archives: South America

Living it Up 1920s Style

The Gran Bolivar Hotel, Lima 4Flying over the Andes 1Flying over the Andes 2The Gran Bolivar Hotel, Lima 1The Gran Bolivar Hotel, Lima 2The Gran Bolivar Hotel, Lima 3The Gran Bolivar Hotel, Lima 5The Gran Bolivar Hotel, Lima 6The Gran Bolivar Hotel, Lima 7The Gran Bolivar Hotel, Lima 8The Gran Bolivar Hotel, Lima 9The Gran Bolivar Hotel, Lima 10Exploring the Plaza Del Armas 1Exploring the Plaza Del Armas 2Exploring the Plaza Del Armas 3Exploring the Plaza Del Armas 4Exploring the Plaza Del Armas 5The Gran Bolivar Hotel, Lima 11Plaza San Martin
It first hit me when I nestled down into my tiny window seat on LAN flight 072, bound for Lima – My time in the Amazon was over. I had conflicting emotions as the doors on the plane closed. I was definitely happy to be going home, but I was already missing the forest and all of the mysteries hidden beneath its canopy. The plane was filled to capacity with a mixture of foreign tourists and Peruvians. I was surrounded by a group of American high school students who were returning home from a weeklong educational trip to Cusco and the Amazon. The students were completely self-absorbed in their odd, popularity games and their chaperones had their hands full trying to prevent an international incident – The class clown was sitting directly in front of me and one of the adults in the group was right behind me, so I was forced to participate. I took out my book and a bag of fresh brazil nuts and I prepared for take off. I was lost in the lore of Tibet’s hidden lands in the Tsangpo Gorge when the plane left the ground. I spent another five minutes trying to read the same paragraph. My heart wasn’t into reading at the moment, so I put the book down and stared out the window instead. Continue reading »

The Rivers Ran East, But I Went West

At the Clay Lick 2The Rivers Ran EastA Family of Capybara Along the Tambopata River 1Colpa el ChunchoAlong the Tambopata River 2Along the Tambopata River 3Colpa Colorado, TRCBlue and Gold Macaws 1Macaws Flying Near the Clay LickA Blue-Headed Macaw at Colpa ColoradoBlue and Gold Macaws 2A Howler MonkeyA Forest BirdA Capuchin MonkeyLooking Towards The AndesThe Jungle StreamThree GuacamayerosExploring the Forest Around TRC 1Exploring the Forest Around TRC 2Exploring the Forest Around TRC 3Exploring the Forest Around TRC 4Feathers The ChicosGustavo and the ChicosExplorer Keith - The Jungle PirateSnake HeadsExploring the Forest Around TRC 5Jaguar!A Giant Beetle in the LodgeExploring the Forest Around TRC 6Exploring the Forest Around TRC 7Exploring the Forest Around TRC 7Exploring the Forest Around TRC 8At the Clay Lick 1Looking Down the TambopataExploring the Forest Around TRC 9Exploring the Forest Around TRC 10Chicos Raiding the Lodge 1A Tayra at TRCChicos Raiding the Lodge 2My Home in TRCExploring the Forest Around TRC 11Exploring the Forest Around TRC 12Sunset Over the TambopataCarlos and Gustavo in the Peki-PekiCarlos at the Clay LickExplorer Keith - GuacamayeroExploring the Forest Around TRC 13One Last Mussurana 1One Last Mussurana 2Tambopata Research Center 1Tambopata Research Center 2Me and My Friend Fernando
It started raining as I sat on the sofa in the lodge waiting for my group to leave. It wasn’t just any rain either, it was a torrential downpour reminiscent of the rainy season and I wasn’t really all that happy to see it. As I sat and talked to the three tourists that would be making the journey up river with me, my mind wandered to my lonely backpack, the one that I had left leaning up against a tree near the river. I thought of all of my dry clothes and my electronics and my extra books and I wondered if, after nearly five exciting years on the road, the pack’s ‘water resistance’ still functioned as it did when I first bought it. I didn’t linger too long on my belongings though. The mist-filled air flowed into the dry spaces under the lodge’s roof and shattered the sticky, morning heat and the calming roar of falling water soothed my tensions and brought a relaxed smile to my face. It was really an ideal way to start my new adventure in the rainforest.

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The Life of a Guacamayero

An Angry Bullet AntA Capybara on the TambopataAlong the Tambopata RiverRio Gatos ColpaThe False Fer de Lance Exploring the Jungle Around Refugio Amazonas 1Going to the Rio GatosExploring the Jungle Around Refugio Amazonas 2Exploring the Jungle Around Refugio Amazonas 3Sunrise Over the AmazonExploring the Jungle Around Refugio Amazonas 4In the TowerExploring the Jungle Around Refugio Amazonas 5Exploring the Jungle Around Refugio Amazonas 6Exploring the Jungle Around Refugio Amazonas 7A Giant ToadA Pink-Toed Tarantula Exploring the Jungle Around Refugio Amazonas 8Exploring the Jungle Around Refugio Amazonas 9Exploring the Jungle Around Refugio Amazonas 10MothraExploring the Jungle Around Refugio Amazonas 11Exploring the Jungle Around Refugio Amazonas 12Exploring the Jungle Around Refugio Amazonas 13A Coati in the ShadowsA Wandering SpiderExploring the Jungle Around Refugio Amazonas 14Exploring the Jungle Around Refugio Amazonas 15The Devils GardenExploring the Jungle Around Refugio Amazonas 16Exploring the Jungle Around Refugio Amazonas 17Exploring the Jungle Around Refugio Amazonas 18Exploring the Jungle Around Refugio Amazonas 19A Leaf FrogExploring the Jungle Around Refugio Amazonas 20Exploring the Jungle Around Refugio Amazonas 21A Giant MussuranaExploring the Jungle Around Refugio Amazonas 22Exploring the Jungle Around Refugio Amazonas 23Exploring the Jungle Around Refugio Amazonas 24Exploring the Jungle Around Refugio Amazonas 25Exploring the Jungle Around Refugio Amazonas 26Leaf Cutter AntsThe Bartender Exploring the Jungle Around Refugio Amazonas 27The Amazonian Tree BoaWhite Caiman Casa Tio TomRefugio Amazonas 1Refugio Amazonas 2Refugio Amazonas 3Exploring the Jungle Around Refugio Amazonas 28Exploring the Jungle Around Refugio Amazonas 29Army AntsExploring the Jungle Around Refugio Amazonas 30Exploring the Jungle Around Refugio Amazonas 31
By my fifth week living at Posada Amazonas I was ready for a break. The eight to ten hours I was spending on the trail every day, while immensely enjoyable, were taking their toll on my body. To make things worse, the lumpy, sagging mattress I had been sleeping on had resurrected an old pelvis injury, which I had earned in a fit of stupidity during a mountaineering trip in Yosemite many years before. I spent a few days resting in my bed, hoping to prevent a total flare up that would eventually spread to my lower back, rendering me useless to the project. After my second day in bed it became clear that I was not going to recover sleeping on the same moldy mattress that had caused the flare up in the first place, so I packed a small bag and took a seat on one of the boats bound for Puerto Maldonado. The ride down river was uneventful, though the scenery along the river had changed dramatically in the week or so since the rains had ended. Where there had been muddy orange water running right up into the trees there was now a long series of muddy banks and wide, sandy beaches. There were also more obstacles in the river for the driver to avoid. Some of the obstacles were very obvious, such as the huge rock-like islands and large grounded trees, but some were hidden beneath the water giving little or no hint to their presence – Luckily, we only had a few minor collisions. We arrived at the port near Infierno and finished the trip in the small tourist van. Continue reading »

Into the Amazon

The Giant Kapok Tree 2On the Tambopata RiverThe Hide at the ColpaStrange Insects Around Posada Amazonas 1Posada Amazonas 1Water Droplets An Inquisitive MacawThe Approaching Storm on the TambopataMonkeyExploring the Jungle Around Posada 1Exploring the Jungle Around Posada 2Strange Insects Around Posada Amazonas 2The Giant Mussurana Strange Insects Around Posada Amazonas 3Exploring the Jungle Around Posada 3Exploring the Jungle Around Posada 4The Giant Kapok Tree 1Exploring the Jungle Around Posada 5Exploring the Jungle Around Posada 6Piranha!Lago Tres ChimbadasA Hidden BirdStrange Insects Around Posada Amazonas 4Strange Insects Around Posada Amazonas 5In the Hide at the Small ColpaCobalt Winged Parakeets 1Cobalt Winged Parakeets 2Exploring the Jungle Around Posada 6Macaws at the Colpa 1Macaws at the Colpa 2Exploring the Jungle Around Posada 7Exploring the Jungle Around Posada 8Brazil Nut Coconuts The Tambopata RiverExploring the Jungle Around Posada 9Exploring the Jungle Around Posada 10Exploring the Jungle Around Posada 11Macaws at the Colpa 3A Collared Peccary Exploring the Jungle Around Posada 12The Amazon Tree Boa in the HideExploring the Jungle Around Posada 13Exploring the Jungle Around Posada 14Strange Insects Around Posada Amazonas 6Exploring the Jungle Around Posada 15Spiders 1The Tower of Posada Amazonas Exploring the Jungle Around Posada 16A Bullet AntExploring the Jungle Around Posada 17A Frog in the Bathroom of Posada Amazonas Exploring the Jungle Around Posada 18A Giant ToadExploring the Jungle Around Posada 19A Flying MonkeyExploring the Jungle Around Posada 20Mushrooms 1Exploring the Jungle Around Posada 21A Whip SnakeA Bird SpiderStrange Insects Around Posada Amazonas 7A Fruit Eating BatA Tree FrogSpiders 2A Blue Morpho ButterflyExploring the Jungle Around Posada 22Strange Insects Around Posada Amazonas 8Strange Insects Around Posada Amazonas 9Attack of the Army AntsStrange Insects Around Posada Amazonas 10Exploring the Jungle Around Posada 23A Giant SnailMushrooms 2My Home at Posada AmazonasStrange Insects Around Posada Amazonas 11
A quick glance through the window revealed a seemingly endless blanket of green where, a few minutes before, there had been huge, snow-capped peaks. Just below us a wide ribbon of muddy orange water sliced through the green in a winding, haphazard manner. I knew the river well, though I had only seen it on maps – It was the Tambopata, one of Peru’s last wild rivers. As we got closer to the ground individual trees became distinguishable in the blanket of green and it hit me for the first time just how massive the forest was! The pilot’s voice crackled on the intercom as he asked the flight attendants to take their seats and then the forest ended abruptly. Huge farms took the place of the seemingly endless canopy and then the runway appeared below us. The wheels hit the ground with a screeching jolt and then we taxied for a few moments and came to a stop on the tarmac near the terminal building. I was greeted with a blast of hot, humid air as I stepped out of the plane and walked down the stairs to the sun-scorched pavement. A sign in the terminal welcomed me to Puerto Maldonado. Continue reading »

To the Strait of Magellan and Beyond

Torres del Paine Cave of the Milodón 1Cave of the Milodón 2Cave of the Milodón - A FoxCave of the Milodón - Patagonian Sierra FinchCave of the Milodón 3Explorer Keith and the MilodónPuerto Natales Trekking Torres del Paine - Cuernos del PaineTrekking Torres del Paine 1Trekking Torres del Paine 2Trekking Torres del Paine - Looking Toward Glacier GreyTrekking Torres del Paine 3Trekking Torres del Paine 4Trekking Torres del Paine 5Trekking Torres del Paine - Glacier GreyTrekking Torres del Paine 6Trekking Torres del Paine 7Trekking Torres del Paine 8Trekking Torres del Paine - Lago Pehoé Trekking Torres del Paine - Looking Toward the Cuernos del PaineTrekking Torres del Paine 9Trekking Torres del Paine 10Trekking Torres del Paine - French ValleyTrekking Torres del Paine 11Trekking Torres del Paine 12Trekking Torres del Paine 13Trekking Torres del Paine Punta Arenas - The Imaginary StreetPunta Arenas - The Lord LunsdalePunta Arenas - The Shackleton BarPunta Arenas - A Tour Guide in the CemeteryPunta Arenas - The Magellan MonumentPunta Arenas - Braun HousePunta Arenas - Milward Castle The Ferry Across the Strait of MagellanCrossing the Strait of MagellanAround Ushuaia 1The Bark EuropaTierra del Fuego National Park - Shell Middens Tierra del Fuego National Park - Flocks of Birds of PreyTierra del Fuego National Park 1Tierra del Fuego National Park 2Tierra del Fuego National Park 3The End of the RoadAround Ushuaia 2Around Ushuaia 3
The Magallanes region of extreme southern Chile is cut off from the rest of the country by the vast southern ice sheet and the miles of broken coastline of Chile’s southern fjords. Because of its isolation, the people in the Magallanes region like to think of themselves as a separate entity from the northern part of the country, they even have their own flag. I learned all of this because of one question I asked while sitting in a cafe in Puerto Natales, Chile – The beautiful flag of blue and yellow separated by a jagged, mountain-like line that left a wide field of blue at the top, which contained the five stars of the southern cross at its left side, was all over town and flew next to the Chilean flag at government facilities, so I had asked the lady working at the cafe what it stood for. Though isolated, the Magallanes region of Chile contains some of the most magnificent scenery in the world and, though a bit faded, and important and somewhat opulent history. I had come for both. Continue reading »