There was a knock on the door. I could still hear it even though I had earplugs. I rolled over and looked at my iPhone and with my middle-aged vision barely made out the time: 4:30 a.m.
It was our wake-up call. Someone goes around knocking on doors when it’s time to get up. There are no phones, you see, at Sacha Lodge in the Amazon.
I took out the ear plugs and as I sat up in the bed the chorus of frogs and cicadas were still trying to “out sing” each other just as they did six hours before when I had shoved the earplugs in my ears with the hope of a good night’s sleep. I put my hand to my head and felt my thick, curly hair, which seemed to have grown bigger and more unruly during my sleep. (It’s what happens in humidity.)
I wiped my eyes and then said to Steve, “Babe, I feel like I’m at camp.”
“We are,” he said with his groggy voice. “We’re at bird camp.” And then he smiled that smile he gets when he knows he’s going to go birding.
A birder’s “vacation”
This is day two at Sacha Lodge in Ecuador where we’re vacationing.
Yes, the kind of vacationing where you get up at 4:30 in the freaking morning.
But it’s what birders do. I know that now. (I should have been more specific when questioning this before I married the birder.)
We showered quickly, brushed our teeth using bottled water, lathered up with bug spray, put on our birding uniforms (cargo pants, long-sleeved breathable shirts, hiking boots), grabbed binoculars and camera batteries, hurled bags and gear over our shoulders, and made our way down the long, wooden staircase in the dark to the main lodge for our breakfast.
Breakfast was short, but very filling. There’s no shortage of food at Sacha Lodge. Yet as soon as we put the last bite in our mouths, our guide, Marcelo got us on our way. You don’t dilly dally around as a birder. Birds don’t wait for you and your guide knows that. We got into our a canoe and Marcelo and his assistant, Wilmer, paddled us down one of the creeks—the Amazon’s highways and paths are really waterways—where we met the trail that would take us to the great Kapok Tower.
There’s a theme here: STAIRS
The Kapok Tower is a wooden tower constructed around a giant Kapok Tree, reaching 135 feet high. We had magnificent views around the area, much like we did at the Canopy Walkway the day before. Boy, I feel out of shape climbing these towers, but I was also glad for the challenging exercise. It at least made me feel like I earned my big meals back at the lodge.
A few of the highlights
For some reason, I spent more time taking photos of the tower than I did birds. It was, indeed, very active at this tower, but I spent more time looking than I did shooting photos. We saw the Ornate Hawk Eagle, Laughing Falcon, the Golden-collard Toucanet and we were visited by the Many-banded Araçari right above our heads in the branches of the Kapok tree. That’s just a small sampling of what we saw up there in the big Kapok tree.
Time for a dip with the anaconda, piranha and caiman
The Amazon is hot. Did I mention that before? I mean REALLY hot. So hot that after our morning at the Kapok Tower I didn’t hesitate to go for a dip in Lake Pilchicoacha—the lake just outside Sacha Lodge. The same lake where there are anaconda, piranha and caiman.
I didn’t care that reptiles of the alligator family were hanging around to cool off. Or big ass snakes like anaconda were lurking near the shore (which is why the sign says to not swim near the shoreline and why I obeyed that—we just jumped off the deck into the lake). And the piranha? Well, I had previously read from a reviewer on TripAdvisor that the piranha are asleep during the day and so as long as we didn’t wake them we’d be okay. And everyone knows that everything on the Internet is true, right?
So, shhhhhhh. Don’t wake the piranha.
The dip was so worth it as it cooled our bodies in the Amazonian heat, though we didn’t stay in the water too long. If we had one of those floating styrofoam noodles, that would have been awesome and I would have hung out there longer, but we didn’t and dog paddling around wasn’t much fun. Plus, I was worried we’d wake the piranha. (Shhhhhh!)
We made our way back to our room to notice that the leaf cutter ants were busily collecting their leaves and we noticed prickly tree trunks and big ass fruit that looked about the size of a bowling ball.
This is just another day at bird camp in the Amazon.
Other posts about this trip
- Birds of Ecuador: The showstoppers!
- NO ONE misses the Birds of Paz de las Aves in Ecuador. Well, except me.
- BIrding Antisana feels a lot like Scotland. Yes, really.
- Tips for birders joining an organized tour
- Pressures of Ecuador
- See, taste and experience Otavalo Market (from my other blog, Baby Aspirin Years)
- Picturing Quito (from my other blog, Baby Aspirin Years)
- Angry Hummingbirds
- Come hell or high water: In search of the Torrent Duck
- Birding high atop the canopy at Sacha Lodge
- It’s elementary my dear Hoatzin
- I held a hummingbird in my hand today
- The tree tomato welcomed me to Ecuador (from my other blog, Baby Aspirin Years)
- The Amazon and Sacha Lodge: Getting there is half the fun (from my other blog, Baby Aspirin Years)