The Storm….An Amazon Rainforest poem.

The Storm…an Amazon Rainforest Poem.

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My beloved rainforest in a storm is a force to behold. Lightening and thunder booms, crashes and shakes the earth. Trees sway and are denuded in the violent winds and torrential downpours.
The storm makes you feel small and powerless. It’s amazing, frightening and exhilarating.

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The Brazilian Amazon Rainforest-Dry Season. Return to the lodge..my home. Part one

The Brazilian Amazon Rainforest-Dry Season. Return to the Lodge..My home…Part One.

This is what I was always faced with on my return to the lodge in late September, early October, taken from my diaries.

I took a fast boat back to the lodge from the town of Manacapuru. The journey took an hour and a half. The boat usually stopped close to the harbour, but because the water was so low at this time of year, the dry season, the boat had to beach far away on the opposite shore.

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I walked along the pale sandy banks towards the logs that had been placed across the river, the only way to reach the now isolated lodge, passing as I did the pale shrunken, fetid, carcass of a caiman on the way.

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Tall skeletal trees close to the river bank held well fed vultures. This time of year being a food fest for the scavengers, who picked at the swollen or shrivelled bodies of dolphins and caiman, stranded on the sandy soil.

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The previous inhabitants of the forest had built a makeshift bridge across the river. The tree trunks were thick and with a helping hand I was able to keep my balance until two-thirds of the way across. My feet were bare because dips and slips into the water were frequent, so as wearing shoes was pointless, I had taken them off. Most of the logs were smooth, but some were rough and eroded, with needle sharp and brittle bark, making the walk over them very painful.
The walkway closer to the harbour consisted of nothing more than thin trunks or wide branches, a human foot width wide, or crooked planks of bleached, warped wood. Balancing on these and keeping out of the waiting mud was a challenge. The weight of each footstep caused the branches and planks to sink into the mud, which oozed between my toes making my feet and the wood slippery, but eventually with the help of long balancing poles and a helping hand from a friend I made it and with a big sigh of relief reached solid home shore.

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My feet were cut and bleeding and the next day the soles of my feet were covered in blisters, but I had got home safely. I almost knelt and kissed the ground. Almost…..instead we celebrated my arrival home with a cup of black coffee and manioc cake.
The boat driver returned the way we had come just as night fell. I heard his boat engine start in the distance and then fade away. I was alone in the Amazon Rainforest….again.

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Herons and Egrets of the Brazilian Amazon Rainforest.

Great Egrets ..White Herons (Ardea alba) Brazilian name; garça-branca-grande.
Striated Heron (Butorides striata).
Cocoi Heron ( Ardea cocoi aka White-necked Heron) Brazilian name: garça-moura
Capped Heron ( Pilherodius pileatus)

Fish and other aquatic life were easy pickings in the small, shallow pools left behind by the receding river during the dry season. To take advantage of this large flocks of herons would gather along the banks and beds of the river.

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Great Egrets and Snowy Herons were in abundance. The Great Egrets or Great White Heron can stand 1m tall. They have long, sharp, yellow bills which they use for stabbing prey of fish, frogs, insects and small mammals.
Occasionally a Great or Snowy Heron would stand quite motionless for ages on the warped planks of my river walkway and then suddenly stab into the water for a fish. If I sat very quietly it would do this very close to me and was quite a sight.
Striated and Tiger Herons and Cocoi Herons too walked the shores. Occasionally a beautiful Capped Heron, with its startling sky-blue face and legs, joined the throng.

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Capped Heron, a name that doesn’t do justice to this beautiful bird.

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The elegant Cocoi Heron

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A Tiger Heron, a very noisy heron. This one had attitude and protected his area with aggression.
Another Heron who didn’t mind my company was the Striated Heron. They were much smaller then the stately Great Egrets, with grey and white streaked plumage. They were every day visitors, settling on branches close to my harbour decking and fishing along with the kingfishers.

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When gathered together in great numbers the flocks of herons made a noise like a low snoring, grating or murmuring. It could be heard for miles and reached the lodge, which was up a low hill and in the forest.

Dry Season in the Amazon Rainforest, Brazil.

Dry Season in the Amazon Rain Forest.

There are two seasons in Amazonia, the wet or rainy season and the dry season.
The wet season begins late November to December and continues until early June. The dry season begins June or July and continues until early November. The rains in the dry season lighten and are mere showers compared to the heavy rains of the wet season.
As the dry season progresses the area close to Eden lodge, Manacapuru Lago, undergoes an extraordinary transformation. The fast flowing river recedes, leaving behind small isolated pools of water or narrow meandering streams, the banks are left exposed and they widen. The area around the lodge and as far as the river mouth, appears as richly green as an English meadow, thick with soft, waving grasses and small delicate flowers over which clouds of butterflies float and flocks of small birds fly.
The photos show the same view in the wet season and in the dry season.

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This idyllic vista, however, is deceptive. Underneath what looks like a lush field of grass is thick, grey, cloying mud. It is impossible to walk on. Feet sink in and are sucked down, so that within seconds mud has reached up to the knees in a quite frightening way.
The trip to and from the lodge, usually done by canoe, has to be taken on foot across river beds or makeshift tree trunk bridges, because there is no other option. Gritted teeth and determination are needed.

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There are benefits to the dry season though. It is easier to see many birds.
Kingfishers and Birds of Prey sit on fishing poles to pick off the few fish that haven’t made their way to the deep river and Vultures feed on carcasses of Caiman and Dolphin beached on the sandy river banks.

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The White and Blue herons and Snowy Egrets pick in tiny rivulets of water at the far edges of the river mouth, looking for any hapless fish left behind. When gathered together in great numbers as they do in this season, they make a snoring, murmuring noise. A sound that makes its way up the hill to the lodge.

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However, when the first heavy rains fall the forest and its people sigh a breath of relief. Fresh water and fish return in abundance and travelling becomes easier for water reliant canoes and boats. Plus the coolness of the air that a good downpour brings, if only temporary, is a welcome feature of the wet season.

Advice to Travellers to the Brazilian Amazon Rainforest. Trip essentials and tips.

Advice to Travellers to the Brazilian Amazon Rainforest. A brief description of trip essentials and tips, a personal view based on experience.

On my first couple of trips to the rainforest I wore day and night, long-legged combat trousers, long sleeved shirts, walking boots and caps with wide brims. I was hot and sweaty and uncomfortable..
On my last trips into the forest I wore as little as possible. Combats, yes always comfy, but worn with vest tops and flip flops, unless trekking deeply into the forest when I was more careful and covered up.
Certainly long sleeved cotton tops and shirts are needed in the evenings and early mornings, to discourage mosquitoes, ditto long legged cotton trousers or skirts, but I found during the day they weren’t so essential.
It does though depend on how attractive you are to mosquitoes. Some people attract them like sticky paper.
A light rain jacket is a good buy. It often rains, sometimes daily, as in the wet season and fast boat transfers to the Amazon lodges can be quite cold, windy and wet, so a raincoat is useful. Although the sun dries you out quickly, it’s best to avoid the drenching if you can.
Hats with brims, shading from the sometimes intense sun, are indispensable: cotton caps, straw hats, sun visors…plus a good pair of sunglasses.
People on tours will be advised to wear walking boots within the forest, or will be provided with a pair of Wellingtons. Wellies are perfect to protect against snake and scorpion bites, as they protect the whole leg. Make sure the guide has checked inside the boot. I have found a tiny, but poisonous, pink frog in the toe of an old boot.
Keep all bags: rucksacks, cases, make-up bags, closed and zipped up when not in use. Spiders, snakes and various insects are inclined to crawl in if they find an open bag. Shake and check clothes that have been hung up for the same reason.

Ladies will find that make-up rarely stays put in the high humidity. A touch of moisturiser day and night is all I used and sun protection, especially on nose, when in the open as in canoes and boats.
I gave up trying to straighten or fuss with my hair within days. A good brushing and tying it back, if longish, is all you can do to look good. Frizz is impossible to contend with in the heat, so I just shrugged my shoulders and got used to it.

Hotels usually have air conditioning, which cools the room and deters mosquitoes. It is often noisy, but necessary. Hammocks in hotels usually come with mosquito nets, an essential in the forest.
Some tributaries of the Amazon have no or few mosquitoes, so it depends on where you go. I rarely used insect repellant, as I didn’t seem to attract mosquitoes, but for most people Deet is the insect repellant of choice for short trips, although recent research has shown the mosquitoes have wizened up to it, so Malaria prevention is a must in the form of medication. I found the more expensive Malaria prevention had few side effects. The least expensive, left me in a deep depression every afternoon and I had to stop taking it.

Drinkable water always comes out of plastic bottles. Don’t ever drink water from a hotel tap or Amazon river. When my water supplies became short, I boiled clear stream water, something few visiting the Amazon would have to do.
Piping hot food is generally safe, free from bugs. Avoid ice-cream and ice-cubes. Peel fruit. Avoid salads which may have been washed in contaminated water.
Remember the heat multiplies the effects of alcohol and getting tipsy will be dangerous in the forest, where you need your wits about you, so don’t do it.

Never, ever, think you can walk into the forest alone. Even locals can get lost. Always take an experienced guide.
Swimming in rivers is safe only when the guide says so. Remember there are venomous Sting-rays, Anacondas, Caiman and fish with fierce reputations to contend with. With that in mind, do not urinate in the water. A tiny fish known for travelling upstream and into urinary tracts, is one you don’t want to encourage!
Do not touch or pet, dogs or cats. They may have rabies and many have ticks. In fact, unless your guide gives you the nod, do not touch any animal, insect or frog. Many use poison as protection and can cause fevers, swellings and even death.

Take a torch. Electricity often fails at inconvenient times and is sometimes turned off in the middle of the night in lodges.

Finally prepare before you leave home with all the necessary vaccinations and ensure you have a good first aid kit, including sterile needles, painkillers, antiseptic cream and wipes, insect bite cream, plasters, bandages, sterile dressings and tummy upset powders. A first-aid kit like this, should be taken on all journeys, not just to the Amazon. I can’t remember the amount of times I have had to use the contents of my kit for myself and others on my travels.

These are my personal tips based on years of experience, but please ask your doctor for further advice, especially about vaccinations like Yellow Fever and possibly Rabies, and definitely Malaria protection. Read the advice given by travel companies and in good travel books.

And then relax……the Rainforest is a marvellous place, the experience will be one you will never forget. It will remain in your heart forever.

The photos show a frog on my T-shirt, a rather large spider on my combat trousers and the tiny pink, poisonous frog found in an old boot.

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Amazon Rainforest Climate. Wet Season in the Brazilian Amazon Rainforest.

The Wet Season (from diary)

The wet season starts at the end of November and continues until May. Rain usually falls in the morning, light showers that cool the air, but quite often a great storm will rage through the forest, lasting for hours.
During the storms, walls of heavy rain move across the forest, saturating everything in their path. Thunder crashes above with such force the ground trembles. The noise must be the loudest natural sound on earth. Despite being warned by lightening of the impending boom and rumble, it always made me jump.
High winds bend and shake the trees and leaves, twigs and branches are thrown through the air. The lodge verandah, when finally the storm ends, is covered with broken twigs, leaves, battered insects and other bits of natures debris. The wooden boards shone as if freshly varnished. The grass roof, rearranged by the storm, let in rays of sunlight………
The rains change the views from the lodge dramatically. Gone are the vast meadows of grasses and wild flowers. Instead stretching to the river mouth is now gleaming, deep water. Deep enough for the dolphins to swim and breed in, deep enough for the caiman and deep enough for the return of lunch. No longer do we have to eat dried up, smelly carcasses, instead the dish is plump and tasty. Yes!
Osprey return to winter in the heat of the forest and sit high on tree tops. Herons and kingfishers return to fish closer to shore on fallen branches.
The rain is welcome, bringing with it fresh water, food and enough water to row the canoes from shore to shore, so much nicer than slurping through the thick, clinging, river bed, mud.
The wet season is back, all is well in the forest.
The first photo shows view from lodge in wet season. The next two photos show same view in dry season. The last photo is of an Osprey and a Heron, happily fishing together.

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Why is the rainforest wet? Why does it rain in the rainforest? The Rain/Water Cycle.

Why is the rainforest wet? Why does it rain in the rainforest?

Visitors to my blog have reached me with the questions, ‘Why is the rainforest wet?’ Or ‘Why does it rain in the rainforest?’ The answer can be found in the Rain/Water Cycle.

The beginning of the rain cycle can be clearly seen early in the mornings in the Amazon Rainforest. It shows up in photos as a fine mist which covers the forest canopy.
The moisture filled air heats up as the sun rises causing the water caught in the tree canopies and the land and rivers to evaporate into the atmosphere.
As the air filled with water vapour rises it cools and forms clouds. The clouds hold and produce rain. The rain falls back on the land and rivers and trees. And the cycle continues.
The Rainforest is very humid. The air is saturated with moisture and because it is close to the Equator and therefore the sun, it is hot.
There is about 250cm per year of rainfall in a tropical rainforest.

Three photos show the forest very early in the morning, just as the sun begins to lighten the sky. They were taken at the end of the dry season, before the coming rains had filled the river. A moisture clad mist hangs over the forest. The fourth photo shows a view over the forest from the air, filled with moisture laden clouds.

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New:Now scientific evidence that deforestation interrupts the rain cycle… No trees-No water..http://t.co/HDp8EX9oIk