After a tasty lunch of fish, rice and pineapple at Iwokrama, we hopped into the 4×4 for our journey to Atta. I opted to sit in the front as was convinced that it was the previous bumpy ride that made me feel nauseous.
Our driver was very chatty and we swapped stories of cooking and food. He entertained us with his tales of cooking cassava (a root vegetable used to make bread, pone, tapioca); making cassareep (the caramelised juice of cassava) and Pepperpot (a national dish in Guyana) a kind of stew…all of which are Amerindian in origin.
The afternoon sun was hot and was glad for the cool air conditioned vehicle. Secretly, I was hoping that we would spot a jaguar as most of the sightings seem to be on the road. On route, we spotted a family of Howler monkeys – mum, dad and baby high up in the trees.
Caiman could be seen basking in the nearby creeks, their eyes protruding above the water. We also spotted a turkey vulture – which looked remarkably like a turkey!
The word ‘atta’ means hammock and it was initially a camp with hammocks before huts were erected for sleeping it. Atta Lodge was about half a mile off the main road and is literally a clearing in the forest. We were greeted by Leon, our guide and 2 ladies who were the cooks and looked after the Lodge. We tucked into freshly baked cookies and passion fruit juice before exploring the site.
A 5pm equipped with torches including a UV one, we set off for our walk along the main road to see which creatures were getting ready for bed and which were getting up! Must admit to feeling rather apprehensive about walking in the middle of the forest at night armed only with torches!
This is the only picture that we have of the entire journey with all 4 of us together
Leon was an excellent and very knowledgeable guide, telling us about the wildlife, flora and fauna. He spotted a 3 toed sloth high up in the tree who was bedding down for the night. It was a most peculiar sight, this bundle of stillness hanging in the tree. A fascinating fact is that they only descend to go to the toilet!
Further along a pair of macaws were already in their nest with just their heads poking out – it was a wonderful sight. We saw several macaws, parrots and parakeets coming home to roost. Mr W was keen to see an anaconda and we explored the swamps and creeks with no luck. The night jars were up and looking for insects. As it got darker, the twinkling lights of the fireflies between the trees were very pretty to look at. They somehow reminded me of fairies!
As the light faded the entire place was plunged into darkness. You could not even see the person standing next to you. I now know what ‘pitch black’ means. I marvelled at Leon’s sense of direction in making our way back to camp. Along the way, we used the UV torches to search out tree scorpions and were rewarded by several sightings.
We waited until Leon switched the generator on before looking through his collection of photographs whilst dinner was being prepared. Leon is a keen photographer and several of his pictures have made it into wildlife magazines. We tucked into dinner consisting of macaroni cheese and peas, mash potatoes, bora (like a green bean) okra (a vegetable) chicken and rice before heading off to bed.
There are no lights in the huts so we used the torches and were greeted by an intrusion of cockroaches! Mr.W had left his tooth paste out with the lid off and they were having a feast! Showering outdoors with cold water in the moonlight was an experience. By 9.30 we were all tucked up in bed. By this time the forest was alive with music. The noise was constant throughout the night and at around 4 am, the Howler monkeys started their ‘howling’ which lasted for several minutes and were repeated at regular intervals.
By 5.30, it starting to get light and I could hear drilling. It was a lineated woodpecker searching for his breakfast in a tree outside the hut. A humming bird was also having an early morning drink from a hibiscus flower.
15 minutes later we set off for the canopy walk.
About 500m in, we ‘set upon’ by a troop of black spider monkeys who began to throw branches and twigs at us. Running for covering, Leon explained that it is their way of communicating to the others that there are predators about.
Leon recounted tales of snakes and jaguars on the canopy walk, unfortunately today wasn’t one of those days. We saw an army of bullet ants, 1.5 cm long and with a painful bite, several species of toucans, watched a puff bird tuck into a cricket and just soaked up the experience of being in the middle of the forest.
Next stop: On the Rupununi River
We travelled with Wilderness Explorers
This blog is a series of blogs capturing my adventures in the Rainforest: