In search of sloths and anacondas...
30/01/10 - The Amazon Rainforest, Amazonas State, Brazil
I'm not being sexist or nothing ("how can I be sexist? my mum's a woman") but if you're going to the Amazon jungle there's probably gonna be mosquitos and bugs, and heat and humidity. It kind of comes with the territory. And yet some of the women on our tour were constantly whining about this as if it came as great surprise. If you don't like bugs DON'T GO INTO THE BLOODY JUNGLE. Anyway...
On day three there's more trekking, this time through swampy forests looking for the elusive sloth.
Sloths are incredibly hard to spot because they hang upside-down very high up and basically resemble a blob. But our obsessive guide Elso is determined to find one even if it kills us. We trek for over five hours looking for one of these creatures and by the end I am so knackered I could'nt give a squirrel monkeys ass if we find one or not. Luckily we do find one otherwise we'd still probably be looking for one. Elso tells us a little about sloths. Sloths are among the most somnolent animals, sleeping from 15 to 18 hours each day. They go to the ground to urinate and defecate about once a week, digging a hole and covering it afterwards. So a lot like humans then...
Believe it or not, the jungle can be hot. It can be 38 degrees celsius or a bit more above the canopy where the sun is shining but 93 degress celsius below. However, less than 10 percent of the sunlight filters down to the forest floor and it rarely rises above about 28 degrees.
The next thing that hits you is the sheer immensity of the trees and the incredible amount of different types of vegetation that surrounds you. Literally everything around you is in flux - in some state of living, breathing, growing, decaying and dying. Trees the size of skyscrapers, leaves the size of umbrellas and vines with incredible sizes and shapes seemingly knitting everything together. Plants growing out vines which are growing up on trees covered with other plants.... it can be overwhelming to take it all in. I was totally caught off guard by the amazing diversity of different plants in a rainforest.
In the afternoon, we take a canoe looking for anacondas. And even though we don't see one (it was highly unlikely anyway - nobody really believed we were going to find one), paddling through tree-covered swamps is incredibly thrilling. I take hundreds of pictures but it really is a futile exercise as it's impossible to capture the experience of being there. A really good diverse forest has about 12-15 different species of trees in an acre. In the Amazon Rainforest, a single acre of jungle will have about 300 different species of trees and another 300 to 400 species of higher plants, everywhere you look - you see something new, different and amazing. I think the main problem in trying to capture this on film is perspective. How do you take a picture of a 12 story tree? Especially one that is surrounded by hundreds of other 12 story trees intermingled with literally hundreds of other species of trees, vines, shrubs and bushes? But I did my best anyway.
Believe it or not that is a sloth
Wait! I think I saw something...no, no it's another tree
Sloth bones - cleaned out compltetely