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Alone in the Forest

December 16, 2010

Madre de Dios River


Today was the first day that I have been alone in the forest since visiting the Los Amigos Conservation Concession. I was fortunate enough to have an assistant and friends with me until three days ago. Since then I have managed to walk with park rangers and station volunteers during my forays on the trails. It’s not that I don’t like being alone in the forest, I am just aware of the safety risks of being out by myself. Last year Rick and I were walking along a trail here and a wasp stung him. That single wasp sting was debilitating; he was unable to walk and had to be evacuated by eight men from the station. In a forest with so many species, it’s hard to know what could be dangerous.

For the last three days I have found excuses to stay inside – checking email, writing blog entries, and catching up on some project reading. I have been hesitant to venture out on my own. But, since today is my second to last day here in the concession, I decided to swallow my fear. I picked three short trails that are very close to the station. I strapped on my snake boots, packed my medical kit, and set out at a slow pace.

Being alone in the forest is one of the most magical experiences. I had forgotten what the silence is like. Without the crunch of other footsteps or the din of attempted conversations, you can hear beetles buzz by and the chatter of birds in the canopy. One of my favorite subtle sounds is the weevils and beetles dropping off the leaves. At the sound of my approach, the weevils tuck in their long snouts and nosedive into the leaf litter to escape detection. I don’t know if I find more when I am alone, but I feel less inhibition about expressing my excitement over tiny leaf beetles and iridescent cockroaches. Today I found two beautiful groups of caterpillars on the underside of tree trunks.

Tomorrow I’ll go out alone again. I’ll stay close to the station, just far enough to escape the noise of people, but close enough that I feel safe. It’ll be my last day in this beautiful forest.



If you’ve liked the images you’ve seen of Los Amigos Conservation Concession, I’d like you to know that it is open to tourists. The station is rustic and really lovely. The trail system is outstanding. There are private cabins and dormitories with private bathrooms. Please email me if you have any questions.

Social Caterpillars

Titi Monkey

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