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Manu – The Jungle

September 23, 2012

In the morning we woke to discover what the Sajino Safari Campsite was actually like. There is no power here at all, unlike the previous two lodges which had two hours of power in the evening but having been warned of this we had charged our camera batteries in advance.

The rooms were very small in basic huts which were insect screened. Unfortunately the insect screening was old and had a few holes in it. This made it essential that the Mosquito nets were in good shape and fortunately this was the case.

There was a canteen hut with a small kitchen in which the cook produced some really nice food with very limited resources. Despite having no refrigeration or indeed power she managed to produce 3 tasty meals each day and use meat right up until the end of the trip.

The first thing we did in the jungle was head off for a walk looking for any wildlife we could see. This is something that we would do several times in the two days that we were at the Manu campsite.

As soon as we stepped out of the relative cool of the camp and under the canopy the humidity shot up and the light dropped. Although the temperature wasn’t that high (28c) the humidity meant that every time we came back from under the canopy we were drenched – not helped by wearing long sleeves and trousers to protect from insects.

The jungle is almost synonymous with mosquitos but we were pleasantly surprised that there were very few while we were there. Probably as a result of the dry spell that had lasted the whole time we were there – it usually rains most days. There were however a lot of sand flies at the edge of the river and these were really a pain.

The Sajino lodge is situated only 15 minutes walk from Salvador lake which is one of the highlights of the Manu Rainforest Reserved Area. It is famous for its population of Giant Otters. In Manu there are actually 5 Jaguars for each Giant Otter but Salvador Lake has a resident population which tourists have a very good chance of seeing.

There is a large catamaran raft at Salvador Lake and we went out on this twice during our time in the Rainforest. Once in the early evening and once in the morning. Around the lake it is very easy to spot Monkeys and birds. On our morning paddle we saw the Giant Otters devouring fish after fish and playing amongst some fallen trees in the lake.

At one point they even swam around the catamaran and came quite close, checking us out.  On the evening paddle we spotted Caimans by their eyes reflected in torchlight.

A 30 minute boat ride downriver is another famous lake, Otorongo, which we visited.

Unfortunately this area seemed devoid of wildlife. There is an observation tower overlooking the lake which we climbed but didn’t really see anything while we were up there. This area housed a couple of other companies lodges but the area around Salvador Lake seemed much more heavily populated with animals.

What we did see in the Otorongo area is the biggest tree in the tourist area. This was a massive Ceiba and was truly enormous.

During the course of our trip we saw the lodges of several other companies and although they seemed in slightly better repair they were all broadly similar and certainly didn’t justify the price differential. In fact it seems that the other companies trips are very similar so it is difficult to see what the extra money buys you.

One of my favourite parts of our rainforest experience were the night walks. This was all about the smaller things and we saw lots of different insects, spiders toads and frogs.

After three nights in the jungle it was time to leave and although we loved seeing the various denizens of the rainforest the relentless heat and humidity made us quite content to leave !

While in the Rainforest we were lucky to see ten different types of monkey (of the 13 in the region):

Red Howler Monkey
Brown Capuchin
White Fronted Capuchin
Spider Monkey
Squirrel Monkey
Saddleback Tamarin
Imperial Tamarin
Wooly Monkey
Dusky Titi
Night Monkey (Sarah only)
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