|Yacutinga is the triangular section of land at the centre of the map.|
6am wake-up call. It’s still dark and it’s already very warm. The bite I picked up at Iguazu on sunday has turned nasty. I’ve got a big rash round half my ankle and a blister the size of my thumbnail. It’s yellow and hard. Micki strapped it up for me so that I’d be OK to walk (it burst on the way to the lodge). It doesn’t itch but it definitely isn’t right.
Our day started at the visitors centre with Charlie talking through vines, snake skins, cicadas, snakes, foot prints, bees and their hives, and how the vines spread their seeds. On to the nursery where they have a collection of orchid plants. Orchids need a host tree to survive and they wrap their roots around the host. Yacutinga have a collection of orchids saved from trees that had to be felled during construction. They are also propagating trees to replant in the forest. We get to plant a tree before we go. The palm trees are in danger of extinction so they are running an experiment to see how best to replant these trees. For each month they plant seeds in three different sections:
1. plant three seeds in a row
2. mimic nature by dropping fifty seeds into an area
3. plant fifty seeds
Not surprisingly the natural way is winning at the moment.
There are hummingbirds here too, partly attracted by bottles of sugared water. They are so small and move incredibly fast and are the only birds that can fly backwards.
We then set off to walk to one of the big trees in the forest along one of Yacutinga’s nine trails. It’s a continual nature tour with Charlie and Marito stopping at the sound or sight of a particular bird. Yacutinga has 50%? 80%? of all bird species in Argentina. Saw some toucans at last!
By this time it was 9am and it was already starting to warm up. The going was slow as we were all still getting used to the heat and humidity so Charlie changed the plan. Marito went back for the truck and we drove the 2km along Yacutinga’s main road back to the swamp.
Marito must have eyes like a hawk. He spotted a bird in the distance and trained the binoculars on it so we could all have a look. The birds of the lower layer of jungle are well camouflaged and even through the binoculars it was nearly impossible to see the bird (62cm long) that Marito had seen with his naked eye.
As well as a range of birds (Charlie has a list hopefully) we also saw an alligator about 1.6m long. It came to rest with its head just above water so it could see what was going on. You could easily mistake it for a log if it stayed so still.
Approaching 11am it was extremely and uncomfortably hot and we headed back to the lodge for more cooling and refreshing lemonade.
My blister had well and truly drained by this time but fortunately the skin is not broken. The anti-allergy tablet Charlie gave me seems to be doing the trick and at least the redness is going away.
|The old Merc by the lagoon|
Lunch, as with dinner last night, was large and good. Gazpacho soup, which tasted lemony and of tomatoes and beans, followed by beef, sweet potatoes, carrots and beetroot. Fresh fruit salad rounded it off. I hope diner tonight is small or we’ll be waddling all the way from tomorrow.
Desperate to find a way to cool off we headed back to the room for a siesta knowing that the second trip of our day starts at 4.30pm.
During siesta a deceptively cool breeze began to blow. It was a foretaste of rain and with the rain came mosquitos, swarms of them.
In the afternoon we did the short “timba” trail which took us to a large rosewood tree. We had hoped to see monkeys along the way but this wasn’t to be.
We then did the start of the “Iguazu” trail. This trail hadn’t been used for a couple of weeks and we (i.e. Charlie) had to continually clear away the webs of, and with, large spiders.
We were heading back towards the swamp and made quick time as the mozzies were having a feast on our behalf. At the swamp we saw woodpeckers, great Arani, herons and more. We stayed until nightfall, refreshed by cold lemonade, in the hope of seeing the alligator in the swamp. At night its eyes light up red. Unfortunately this wasn’t to be and we had to make do with fireflies.
Back at the lodge we had another meal. Fried manioc potatoes and mini squash, followed by rolled beef stuffed with vegetables, baked onion, tomato and sweet pepper. Pudding was sweet caramelised papaya and cheese. OK if eaten together but not so good separately. A cup of mate [Note: what we thought was mate tea before we had the real thing] washed it all down.
Stef got into full swing with Marito. About what I’m not sure but with Marito’s few words of English and Stef’s basic Spanish they got on fine.
We have a late start tomorrow, 6.30!
Unfortunately because of the rain, this afternoon was not good for spotting anything other than mosquitos!
We had come prepared to wear shorts and t-shirts at Yacutinga and hadn’t planned for long trousers and shirts. Even though the heat is unbearable you have to cover up. In the afternoon I could cope with my own long sleeve tops and borrowed one of Stef’s shirts. Apart from 9” of superfluous length it was much better.
Everything here feels damp, clothes, paper, your skin. After the rain at lunchtime we got well and truly soggy on the afternoon trails. Only when the sun went down at the swamp did we start to dry out.
The stars come out then too, another clear night sky. We had planned to eat al fresco and stargaze back at the lodge but the clouds came in again. Hopefully it’ll stay clear for tomorrow night.
[Note: Charlie’s list of birds spotted at Yacutinga – in diary, need to copy it out]