An excursion in Purushottama’s company.
After descending from the Andean plateau down into the Ecuadorean Amazon. On Sunday we travelled for two hours by motorized canoe down the Rio Napo. The Rio Napo is the largest tributary of the Amazon and in fact supplies 30% of its water. We were fortunate in that we had some beautiful sky almost the entire journey.
At the end of the river journey, we transferred to a waiting vehicle which took us the short distance to the entrance to the Limoncocha Biological Reserve. We arrived mid to late afternoon which meant that the light was optimum for our viewing of the many birds that are found there.
We spent hours around the edges of the lagoon with our guide pointing out the multitude of species. Apparently, Limoncocha regularly registers the second highest total in the annual Christmas bird count; Mindo in Ecuador usually taking the first place. As we were moving our eyes from one bird to another, bands of Spider Monkeys were moving from tree to tree.
One of the activities scheduled for our tour was piranha fishing. Not knowing what this was going to entail, we were happy to learn that we would be fishing for piranha rather than the piranha fishing for us. We didn’t catch any, they seemed to be quite familiar with this game and were adept at removing the bait as we did get a few tugs here and there. Being vegetarians, if we had caught any they would have been put back into the water. I’m not sure that they played by the same rules.
To thoroughly enjoy the sunset, our canoe stopped in the middle of the lagoon where we watched the red orb sink into the Earth and then as night began to descend, we headed back up into the lagoon where the pond cover, mostly water lettuce, was the densest. This was because the lagoon had a very special show in store for us.
As the darkness grew, all the surface plants and even the ground around the rim of the lagoon began to be lit up by tiny firefly larvae. These larvae remain stationary and light up their tiny lights. Then the male fireflies come out with much larger luminescent bodies and fly around. The combination of the ground alight with tiny firefly lights and the sky thick with flying male fireflies is truly unique. I’m not at all sure what is going on here biologically, but – wow!
After a good amount of viewing, we were ready to head back to the dock but with one last mission, to spot caiman in the water in the dark. Our guide wanted to be sure that we had the full experience. We’ve lived in Florida and have seen many alligators but there is something exciting to spot those eyes floating on the surface in the dark waiting for their prey.
Thank you, Limoncocha Biological Reserve, for all that you shared with us.