The End of an Era

After over 6 years of intensive research and community development work in and around the Yachana Reserve, GVI Amazon is coming to a close. We have finished our final research project (look forward to our Road Effects paper, coming soon!) and are handing over the project to our partner, The Yachana Foundation. They will continue to maintain and monitor the reserve, using it as an hands-on science education center for students -- we're very excited to see what fabulous things this next generation of scientists find! For more detail on GVI Amazon's closure, and our accomplishments over the years, please read on...
GVI Amazon Closure Statement

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Yasuni part I

At 3.45am on Thursday an intrepid group of three staff and ten volunteers set out down Access A, heavily laden, to catch the early bus to Coca. On arrival, 3 hours later, it was quite a revelation having breakfast in a hotel. After their feed, volunteers dispersed to send emails, phone loved ones and frequent the shops, all a bit of a novelty after such a long time in the rainforest. Everyone re-convened after lunch down at the port and met Hector, our guide for the long weekend, with his canoe. All loaded up they set off downstream for the three hour journey on the Napo to get to Yasuní. The rainy weather made the journey a bit chilly, an unusual sensation for the Amazon. However, the rainforest scenery was spectacular and the river stretched almost to the horizon on either side at some points.

Our camp for the next 3 days was to be perched on the shores of the Napo courtesy of a local family. On arrival bags were left under a raised dry thatched area and a scramble ensued to get the best spots to hang the jungle hammocks. The staff rapidly produced a slap up meal in a make-shift kitchen that consisted of a tarpaulin overhead and a few planks of woods balanced on more wood and a basic couple of gas rings. After dinner Hector briefed the group on the plan for the following day, which would involve a visit to two different clay licks and a walk in the Yasuní park.

Friday was an early start to catch parrots and parakeets at a couple of spots where they congregate to lick minerals from clay. There was little action in the way of parrots at the first clay lick, although several amazing tanagers appeared and several people had to be peeled away by Hector. At the second clay lick it wasn’t long before a huge flock of Cobalt-winged parakeets appeared and skittishly made its way down to partake of the mineral rich muddy water. Hector took the group on a rainforest walk which included amongst other things, a huge Kapok tree with buttress rots taller than your average person, as well as an amazing pair of Crested Forest Owls who stared back at the group with much less amazement and curiosity than with which they were viewed.

On their way back to the canoe, the volunteers were lucky enough to witness a pair of scarlet macaws squawking and flapping their way down for their turn to chomp on the murky mineral water – amazing! Such huge birds, one came down straight away and the other took it’s time, cautiously flying closer and closer before deciding it was safe. The afternoon was spent chilling out and bathing in the Napo (whilst getting bitten by a lot of sand flies).