Tamborapa to Bagua Chica to Chiriaco to El Paraiso (Sep 25 - 27)

After some good morning birding and butterflying near Tamborapa, we headed on to Bagua Chica and then took the road leading Northeast down into the lowland tropical jungle of the upper Amazon basin. These next few days were really our only "tropical jungle/rainforest" birding of the trip as most of the rest of the trip was in the Andes or at the coast. The elevation at these locations was between 500-600m.

Jeff hanging by the vehicle in Bagua Chica.

The road to Oracuza and El Paraiso was one of the roughest, slowest roads that we traveled. We drove for hours averaging less than 10mph. However, the jungle views (like the morning fog over the jungle here) were amazing.

leaf-cutter ants

Here are some leaf-cutter ants we found along the road.

Our lunch stop in the small village of Chiriaco.

No electricity here, but the refrigerator ran on kerosene! Note also the wall decorations. In most of the restaurants we ate, wall decorations consisted of posters supplied by cola, beer, and other companies (usually with bikini-clad or topless women), the Virgin Mary and/or the Last Supper, and miscellaneous Peruvian scenes.

I'm sitting next to Goyo (Blan's back is to the camera.) At the table on the right sit Lucho and the restaurant owners.

Urania leilus (Thanks James Adams!)

Urania Moths look and act like Swallowtail butterflies, but they are actually day-flying moths.

Several of us remarked that this was the best "butterflying" road we've ever been on. Check out some of the butterfly photos here.

Here's another incredible moth in the genus Xanthyris (family, Geometridae). (Thanks James Adams)

Even though it looks like a butterfly, note the small head & small eyes and "fleshy" non-clubbed antenna.

Along the road to El Paraiso, ca. 600m
26 Sep 2003

An incredible grasshopper with snow-white wings that it would "flash" occasionally while sitting on leaves

Along the road to El Paraiso, ca. 600m
26 Sep 2003

At last we reached El Paraiso, the gateway to the land of the Amazonian Indian Tribe of the Aguarunas, and the gateway to the rare Orange-throated Tanager.

It was en route to this place when we learned that we're the first birding group to come here since two British birders came a year ago and birded the land without permission from the Aguarunas Chief. They were put to death. Needless to say, we were a tad anxious when we found this out . . . (Get me to tell you the rest of the story sometime!!)

El Paraiso is a small jungle village with no electricity and no plumbing. A river behind the village does, however, supply a source of water for drinking and washing. Since the jungle supplies ample wood, the houses are made more of boards than of adobe. Several houses are in the background of this photo.

We Gringos were the center of attention in town. Here I'm standing with some new friends.

These kind folks let us come into their home for a place to eat. They are standing in the back of their kitchen.

Note that along with a dog and some chickens, they had a group of Guinea Pigs (locally called "Cuy"). A couple can be seen on the ground under the shelves.

Along the adjacent wall of the kitchen, Sr. Juan, Julio, and Goyo chowed down. (Sr. Juan, our chef, had supplied the food and our dishes and had fixed us a fine feast.)

Check out more Cuy under the shelves awaiting crumbs that fall.

Here we sit at the table in the front part of the kitchen. From Left to Right: Blan, Harry, Jeff, Dan, Derb.

After we got to El Paraiso, Goyo and Lucho drove over the bridge and up the road to the land of the Aguarunas to meet with the tribe chief. (El Paraiso is just outside the Aguarunas territory.) Unfortunately, they were unable to negotiate permission for us to bird the land, so Goyo found a guide in El Paraiso who could lead us to a birding spot safely OFF the land of the Aguarunas.

The next morning we followed the guide for some jungle birding. No Orange-throated Tanager, but we still saw some good birds and butterflies once we negotiated the "trail"!

Left to right:
Goyo, our local guide, JP

A cool damselfly along the river. According to Sid Dunkle, this is one of the "Dancers" in the genus, Argia.

Goyo crossing the river.

Cool caterpillar with stinging hairs

For us chocolate lovers (and I'm the biggest one!), these next four pics show where our beloved chocolate comes from!

Here's a Cacao Tree. Note the three large fruits growing from the trunk.

Inside the fruit are the seeds (the source of chocolate). The coin, about the size of a nickel, provides a size reference.

This is what the inside of the seed looks like. (Not too appetizing at this point.)

When the fruits are ripe, they're harvested and the seeds ("cocoa beans") are dried in the sun.

Peru has a fairly large chocolate industry with Nestle Peru leading the way.

Once I discovered that most of the little corner tiendas in the villages sold Nestle Sublime chocolate bars, life in Peru became much, much better!

Continue Tour: Nuevo Salem to Imacita to Bagua Grande to Pomocochas (Sep 27-29)

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Created on ... October 28, 2003 | jeffpippen9@gmail.com