I have taken up the post of Deputy Chief Leader for the 2011 BSES Amazon Expedition…
Once in the reserve we rely on the local indigenous Cocama community for getting onto land, getting our canoes and beginning our expedition. The Cocama enjoy having us there; for many of the previous YEs staying over in this Cocama village was one of the most memorable things they did. The Cocama live in stilted thatch huts, they fish with spears and nets and can track a monkey or a aligator with ease. We will invite several of them to continue with the expedition as you head even deeper into the jungle, through the river systems where the scientific work is carried out.
You will undergo complete jungle training so you are familiar with machete use, fires, shelter building, identifying hazards in the jungle, crossing swamps etc.
The science research base camp is on a lagoon deep in the jungle, so your skills will be tested while you trek deep into the jungle, you will be an expert by the time you reach science base camp. Typically during your jungle trek you will encounter a range of primates, along with lizards, butterflies, and birds that will constantly keep you on the lookout. During this trekking phase you will carry out monitoring and survey work focused on parrots, dolphin, turtles, monkeys and alligators. These are all species that give us an important indication of biodiversity and threats to population stability in Pacaya Samiria reserve.
Your team will leave the science camp by canoe, tracing a network of lagoons and rivers toward the village of San Martin de Tipishca. We will use dug out wooden canoes made from a single piece of tree by the Cocama people to travel around the jungle; moving gracefully and quietly, it is possible to come upon Sloth, Caimen and massive birds of prey without scaring them off.
Once you have reached San Martin you will immerse yourself in the community and culture of the Cocama people; experiencing the daily way of life, which may include, maintenance of a Manoc plantation with an indigenous family, protecting turtle eggs with local school children or canoe maintenance to name but a few.
The community project started in 2010 and was unbelievably popular with the Yes. Some of the YEs had the opportunity to carve canoe paddles and learnt how to bake bread in clay ovens. Some also helped run lessons in the village school and organised games of football with the children of the village (and lost!!)
Location: Peruvian Amazon