South America

Deep in the Amazon

Deep in the Amazon in Itaituba (map) as a massive deluge is now falling on this place.  Earlier in this trip, I was up in the Amazonian canopy. About 2 1/2 hours north of Manaus is the small town of Presidente Figuereido.  We left at 0330 in the morning to arrive at the INAP tower, 12 kms from the main road on a disused forest access road. We carried flashlights in the pre-dawn darkness along a flat but slippery trail that led to the tower. The tower was built in the 1970s, and is used mainly for scientific research. The metal tower has ten stories that you climb to get up to, and then slightly above, the canopy.

  At the very earliest break of dawn, we heard what sounded like jet engines in the distance. Only shortly later did we realize that this was the guteral sound of howler monkeys in the distance. Later parrots and other birds started to fly overhead as the rainforest canopy came alive. This was one of the primeval experiences of life on earth – equivalent to seeing the coral reef for the first time, or the intense light in a high altitude desert, or the first experience in the Arctic or Antarctic.

  It was an indelible memory of an unforgettable trip.