Sunday, 2 September 2012

The Journey Continues

It has been a while since I last posted anything and it has not been uneventful here in the Amazon.
Altough there have been a few low points there have been an equal number of high points.
The biggest news  would have to be that we have built a maloca.  A maloca is a traditional indigenous home.  We took a few liberties with the design so it does not strictly follow the design of any one tribe but the basic concept is there.  It definitely was an element that was missing at the lodge.  It is a perfect spot to relax or take a nap in a hammock after a trek through the forest or a good meal. It is also great for sending those of your group who snore a bit too loudly.

Also inside the maloca we have also begun to create a mini museum with both natural and cultural items from the region.  This includes a collection of animal skulls, some fossils and a blow dart gun.
The animal skulls have been acquired by finding them in the forest or asking the natives to donate them instead of throwing them away after a successful hunt.  The fossils we have found in the river during the dry season. We make an effort to collect all of them because they will all be washed out into the Amazon and then out into the Atlantic if we don't pick them up. The hunting weapons have been purchased from the local community.

 For me at least the most interesting item we have is a fossilized tooth which looks very much like it could be of a giant alligator or crocodile. The tooth is approximately 10 centimetres long and about 5 wide. Hopefully sometime soon we can confirm exactly which species this belongs to.

We have also added a few other details around the lodge such as the sign which is visible above.  Although we will always be making small changes around the lodge, at least for the time being the facilities won't be changing much until our visitor volume increases.

Aside from construction there are always a million things that keep you occupied when your run a business on your own but it has been worth all the effort.  It has been a very satisfying journey and there is still a lot to come and I invite everyone to come down to Colombia and share it with us. 

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Sunday, 11 March 2012

The Rise and Fall of the Amazon River

I have been here in the Amazon since July of last year and have had the chance to see the various moods and manifestations of the incredible river of the same name.  Even though this river moves more water that any other on the planet it is not an unchanging body of water.  The river and surrounding forests generally know 2 seasons, the wet and dry.  However because of its immense length there are parts of the river that my experiencing one season and along another stretch of river you may find the opposite season in full force.   Don't be mistaken by the term dry season, it is used relatively, it rains during this time of year as well.  On average the Amazon rainforest gets showered with between 1.5 and 3 meters of rain.  Here near Leticia a large portion of that rain is concentrated from November to May with  the other half of the year receiving noticeably less rain.  As the rainy season progresses the Amazon river changes drastically.  Tiny streams 2 meters wide and 2 meter deep become rivers  50 meters wide and 17 meters deep.  (First series of photos)

   In some areas the river encroaches considerably flooding a few kilometres into to rainforest.  The only way to really  appreciate this is by showing you lovely people some before and after photos.  I realize that the extent of the change may not be entirely apparent in all the comparisons.  This mostly comes from the fact that now that the river is grown I couldn't take the photo from the same spot I did when the river was dry because that spot is now underwater.  In any case I hope the striking change still comes across in the images.

The first was taken in the port in Leticia.  The arrows indicate a point of reference so that you can get a better idea of how the river changes.

Taken in September

Taken in October

Taken in November

Taken in February

The next couple photos were taken from the community of San Martin. I am missing a photo to show how high the river is now but  I will hopefully be able to upload one by next week.
Here the river in some spots is less than a meter deep.

The river here is starting to rise and now is over a couple meters deep.

These last 2 were taken in front of the Yoi EcoLodge.

Taken in August

Taken in February
Not every year is exactly the same in terms of how high the river is at certain times and nor when the river is at its highest and lowest points.  Some times the river will rise and then drop drastically only to rise to the same level a couple of weeks later.  Its unlikely that climate change is helping the variability of  the river.  Unfortunately it may be challenging for those of you who do not live here to have the opportunity to see all the faces of this incredible river.  I hope that you will come and see at least one. 

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Monday, 6 February 2012

So you hate bugs….. Part 2

So I intentionally started off with some insects that may not be so popular but I will continue with some that are a lot more liked.  Just as with the grasshoppers the moths and butterflies (order Lepidoptera) are another order that come in a variety of shapes  sizes and colors.  Before I get critiqued by any of our more nerdy readers I should mention that moths are a group within the order of butterflies so technically they are butterflies but here we will use the two terms as they are popularly used.

For those of you who have no idea how to distinguish between moths and butterflies here are some general rules to separate them.
  •  Moths are generally nocturnal and butterflies are generally diurnal.
  •  Moths usually have feathery antennae and butterflies have thin antennae ending in a larger   bulb.
  •  At rest butterflies will fold the wings together while moths will have the wings folded down.
  •  The least reliable indicator is that moths may look a little more furry than butterflies.

 Here is a photo of a moth that typifies these characteristics

And here is a butterfly that shows off their common trademarks


Swallow Tail Moth  -Urania leilus
Of course as with most things there are exceptions to the rules.  A good example of this is  the Swallow Tail Moth (Urania leilus).  This flashy moth demonstrates almost all the trademarks of the butterflies. It is diurnal, has thin antenna and is not that furry.  This moth is also easily confused because it looks similar to many swallow tail butterflies.

Most people have the idea that moths are fairly drab colored, either grey white or maybe black. Although there are some that follow that color scheme there are many that are just as brightly colored as any butter fly. Here are a few examples

The moth below deserves special mention only because of how strangely it folds its wings. Normally it will appear as most moths do but for some reason it will at times curl up its wings and assume  the pose seen below.

 Butterflies on the other hand are well known for their bright colors which sometimes indicate that they are poisonous and they rarely disappoint in this regard. Here are a few examples
Passion vine butterfly -
Philaethria dido

But there are also some that are more subdued, such as the owl butterflies which flash the spots on their wings to startle and misdirect would be predators.
Owl Butterfly - genus Caligo

For those of you that already know a little about the wildlife found in the amazon you may have noticed the absence of the Morphos with their shiny metallic blue wings.  This is only because I have yet to take a photo of one that I am happy with. They are common but also very active and you generally only see them as they are flying by.

In the Amazon almost no matter where you go, day or night, you will find active members of the order Lepidoptera. So named because in latin lepid = scale and in greek pteron = wing, and anyone who has ever looked closely at or held a butterfly can attest to the very fine scales that make up there wings. These beautiful scaly winged creatures are just another element that make the Amazon rainforest the gorgeous spectacle that it is.

You are warmly invited to visit the Yoi EcoLodge  and share the beauty that is the Amazon.

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