top of page

Expedition V: In the Amazon you see first with your ears.

Tamndua at Rio Tombopata Reserve, Madre De Dios region of Southern Peru
The Tamandua racing up the tree

Explorers Inn, Rio Tambopata Reserve, Madre de Dios Region of Peru: One day, I was creeping along a trail in my silent kung fu mode, when I heard something moving about in the trees. Whatever made the noise was quite large, but it would not be scary like a Jaguar, for they move so silently that I would never know it was there.

I was excited and wanted to see what it was, but it was dense vegetation; if I went looking for the creature it would go silent. I also had to be careful not to get lost – in a jungle, it's easy to lose the trail – which could be a death sentence. So I stood perfectly still, hoping that whatever it was would come my way.

After a few minutes, a beige-colored animal about a metre long came down a tree. It had sharp claws, a long snout and furry ears that gave it the look of a long-nosed koala bear. I've seen many documentaries on the Amazon rainforests but have never seen anything like this.

Silently I watched as the creature came down the tree and walked towards me hunched rather comically until it climbed another tree. Up and down trees it would go, busting into giant termite nests in search of food, getting closer and closer to me. As it climbed a tree no more than a few feet away I reached for my camera and took a photograph. Startled by the click of the camera's shutter it raced up the tree, dug its back claws into the trunk and swung upside down sniffing and tasting the air.

I realised that it couldn't see very well as it was using its other senses to find what made the noise. "Wouldn’t it be nice if it came out of the tree and walked right in front of me?" I thought, "Then I’d know I belonged here."

This became so important to me that I would have stood there all day if necessary, but fortunately, I did not have to wait that long. After five or ten minutes of sniffing and tasting the air, the cuddly-looking creature came down the tree and walked so close to my feet that I could have bent down and touched it. As I watched the cartoonish character wander off, my heart soared. It either hadn't noticed I was there or felt so comfortable with my presence that it felt no threat. Either way, I felt like I belonged there.

The Amazon was as magical as I dreamed it would be.

From the residential scientists, I learned that the animal I saw was a Tamandua and that I was the first person to get a photograph of one at the reserve. What a thrill!

The Amazon was as magical as I dreamed it would be.

My friend, an Amazonin tribal leader, told me that it was a good job that I didn't touch the animal as it passed by, as it would have stood up, given me a big hug, and ripped me apart with its claws.

A little information on the Rio Tambopata Reserve...

The Tambopata National Reserve protects 274,690 hectares of rainforest in the Madre de Dios province of eastern Peru. It encompasses the former Tambopata Reserved Zone (TRZ), 5,500 hectares of undisturbed subtropical moist forest within which the Explorer’s Inn was built. Research over the last four decades has concluded that this area of forest has the greatest diversity of wildlife of any single locality on Earth. It has more species of birds (600 spp.), butterflies (over 1200 spp.) and many other animal groups than any other location of its size.



bottom of page