Amazon Private Reserve, Nauta Canio & Pahuachiro Trail
The moon rises, and by 6 p.m. it is one of the most beautiful I have ever seen. Gray dolphins fish nearby, creatures that arrived to the Amazon only after the river finally cut through Obidos in Brazil, to reach the Atlantic, about five million years ago.
It’s a perfect setting, well, almost perfect, as mosquitoes have decided to pay us a visit as well.
Our day started with the exploration of “Amazon Private Reserve,” a place where we had the opportunity to walk closer to the canopy, which is the forest layer where 90% of the photosynthesis occurs. We passed by one of the most amazing trees, the strangler fig. Hard to believe, but this giant started its life as seed dropped by birds on branches of other trees, let’s call them “hosts,” or more precisely, “victims.” From the seedlings, shoots grew out and around the main trunk of the host. Ever tightening, these tendrils encircled the trunk, cutting into the bark, and blocking vital cellular water channels. Hopeless, the victim was eventually covered under tightly woven roots and stems.
It takes several years for the host tree to die and decay, leaving behind the shell of the living fig tree. This allows the fig to grow to the canopy layer much quicker than if it had to wait for the light and warmth created by a forest gap. Interesting! And I am not telling you the way its flowers are pollinated, as that’s another long and intricate story.
Bromeliads surprised us all with their beauty and capacity to hold water. It’s been proven that these “aerial aquariums” of the pineapple family can store as much as 8 liters. Being epiphytes they do not actually damage the host tree, but the weight of many plants can indirectly cause harm.
The afternoon found us in Nauta Canio, with perfect flat waters and a wonderful skiff ride, or kayak, in the company of birds of all sorts of colors and songs. We saw our first primates of the week, pretty active common squirrel monkeys.
As the moon rises, and we sing birthday songs for one of our guests, I am thinking about the night hike ahead. The activities of today aren’t over yet. We have a flooded forest to explore at night, and who knows what new marvelous relationships and interactions among species will amaze us again.