Boots, Birds, and Binocs... Peru 2011
If you have to be sitting all day, one of the best places to do so is on a boat that is traveling down the Rio Madre de Dios, a river so grand and important that it is literally named after the mother of God.

We woke up (yet again) at o'dark-thirty, ate breakfast, and lugged our bags to the boat in the dark.  The sunrise over the river was breathtaking as we settled in for an 11 hour ride.  Although we were sad to leave the paradise that is Pantiacolla Lodge, we were anxious to get to Cocha Cashu and experience what we were coming to understand as one of the most wild places on earth.

The boat ride took us through Manu National Park, the most biodiverse park in the world.  The park spans from the top of the Eastern Andes to the lowland plains, protecting an array of different ecosystems.  It's size is so large that it contains the entire watershed of the Manu River as well as its tributaries, making it an invaluable conservation area.

On the ride we got some much needed relaxation/nap/reading time, an amazing meal provided by Orlando, and a front row seat to seeing wildlife in their natural habitat.  We saw countless birds, caiman, and even a jaguar! Although we were not expecting to arrive at Cocha Cashu until the next day, high waters and an expert driver got us there in a record 11 hours, allowing us to see both sunrise and sunset on the boat.

We arrived at Cocha Cashu in the dark and walked up the trail to the research station.  We struggled to set up our tents (Audrey and I only succeded with Alex's help), had dinner, and went to bed.  It was strange to arrive in the dark, not knowing what to expect in the morning.  We fell asleep to an endless chorus of unknown creatures, protected only by our little tents. 

-Emily Bachman


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