Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Serching for the Woollies - A 5 day Trek in the Colombian Amazon - Day1


  Recently I had the pleasure of joining the Maikuchiga team on one of their research expeditions.  Over the last few years they have been heading out into the forest once a month in search of the endangered woolly monkey troops. In an effort to begin collecting baseline data, 4 to 7 days are spent walking through the forest looking for any signs of these beautiful primates. Population dynamics are a focus with data on the number of individuals, sexes and relative ages being collected. As their role as seed dispersers is also of interest, even when the monkeys themselves are not spotted, the team takes notes on the leavings of meals and any other signs that the woollies have been present.  Because information on most wild life is scarce, data collection is not just limited to the woollies as any large mammal sightings are recorded.

Karol, a 3 year old woolly monkey
It was thanks to Mike and Brian, a couple of American tourists that I finally had the excuse to join one of these excursions.  They wrote me requesting a 4 night trek through the Amazon and I immediately proposed heading out to look for the woollies. They agreed and a few months later we found ourselves on the Amazon river at sunrise heading towards the native community of Mocagua to meet up with the other half of the expedition.  A couple of hours were spent at the Maikuchiga monkey sanctuary while we made final preparations. Mike and Ben took advantage of this time to get familiar with some of the resident non-human primates. Mostly orphaned babies or juveniles they form a makeshift troop as the gain strength and experience so that they can eventually rejoin the wild populations. For more info on how the sanctuary works you can check out our blog post describing the work they do.  

Brian with a baby red howler monkey


Gonzalo, Julian, Mike, Brian, Freddy, Henry
 Joining us on the trek were Freddy and Henry, 2 indigenous members of the Tikuna tribe who had worked with the foundation for a number of years and Gonzalo an apprentice guide who works with us at Yoi EcoTours.  We set out around 9 in the morning each carrying around 30 pound packs.  I will not sugar coat it, the first day was hard. Trekking through the amazon rainforest is a slow difficult process. The heat, humidity and uneven terrain combine to challenge even seasoned trekkers.  Regular breaks are needed for rest but more importantly for hydration.  On average we would consume a liter an hour, so any streams crossed were exploited to refill our ever emptying water bottles.

These were not our only stops however as we were rewarded with a few wild life sightings on the way including squirrel monkeys as well as my first look at a white hawk.

 Acclimatizing to the environment takes a bit of time and despite being surrounded by beautiful forest our main focus was getting to our destination, a camp located approximately 9 kilometers from the sanctuary.  After 5 hours of hiking as we entered a small clearing, where we were met by a small slightly raised platform with a roof made of palms. This would be home for the next 4 nights. Sleeping in hammocks, bathing in the nearby stream and meals cooked over a wood fire would make up the domestic aspect of the next few days.  The rest of the time would be spent searching for and admiring the amazing wild life and nature that surrounded us.  Despite 5 years of living here and heading out on many treks into the forest, each outing would reveal new and sometimes surprising things to marvel at. So that night I slept well knowing that the day’s tough hike was a worthwhile investment and that we would be well rewarded in the days to come.

Launching from Leticia we offer immersive, personalized  amazon tours and treks.
If you are interested in maybe joining us on a trek or on a tour of the Amazon you can find more information on our website :
or you can write us at :
or give us a call at : +57 3102688026