March 27, 2012

Recipes from Tambopata: Peruvian Pumpkin Cream Soup

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How to prepare our "cremita de zapallo":

Ingredients:

  • ½ Medium Pumpkin, zapallo, or one whole Butternut squash
  • 1 Finely sliced medium onion
  • 1 Clove crushed garlic
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed fresh ginger or ground ginger
  • 1 Tablespoon Flour
  • 1 Cup Whole Milk (for a heavier soup substitute with cream)
  • 3 Tablespoons Butter
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Preparation:

  • 1.     Peel and slice zapallo and boil in water until soft.
  • 2.     Melt butter and fry onion, garlic, and ginger until onion is clear and soft.
  • 3.     In a large saucepan, simmer zapallo, milk, and onion mixture for 5 minutes.
  • 4.     Add the flour and stir until well dissolved. 
  • 5.     For a puree texture, put the mixture in a blender and blend on high until desired texture is achieved. 
  • 6.     Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • 7.     Serve warm.

Tip:
Garnish with croutons fried in butter, chopped green onions or a small sprig of fresh parsley.


Note: 
In Peru we generally use Zapallo Loche (Cucurbita moschata), relative of pumpkins, of medium size and golden flesh and of the much bigger Zapallo Macre (Cucurbita maxima), which is instead yellow.  

If these are not available, the Zapallo can be replaced with pumpkin or butternut squash.  Huacatay (Tagetes minuta), ginger and garlic give the characteristic flavor to this cream soup, prepared with zapallo (a kind of pumpkin).
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Photo of the Week: Dusky Titi Monkey by Jeff Cremer

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*If you have a photo you would like to submit for the Photo of the Week, please send it to us as a .JPG file at RainforestExpeditions3@gmail.com.
March 15, 2012

Scarlet Macaw Facts

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A Scarlet Macaw at the Tambopata Research Center
The sound of the motor fades as the boat nears the opposite shore of the Tambopata River. Dawn has just broke and a group of lucky guests have settled in to chairs set up on the river bank. Although the air retains the quiet of the dark, jungle night, that calm will shortly be shattered by the screeches and cries of hundreds of parakeets, parrots, and macaws as they fly in to the Tambopata Research Center colpa. This is why most of these guests have gone so far up river and since the Tambopata clay lick is one of the largest in the world, the trip will be more than worth it.

It doesn’t take long before the birds begin to arrive. The macaws announce their presence long before they are seen with cries of dinosaur proportions. As a pair come flying in on steady wings, they suddenly seem to glow with red as the first morning rays of the sun light up their plumage. They continue to fly closer and the guests marvel at the combination of flaming scarlet, blue, and yellow feathers. Their long tails slightly wavering behind them, the first Scarlet Macaws of the day alight in a tall tree above the clay lick. While admiring these wild, exotic beauties through a telescope, more pairs of brilliantly plumaged Scarlet Macaws fly in for their morning colpa visit. It’s a fantastic way to start any day and at TRC, the spectacle of Scarlet Macaws is commonplace.

Some interesting facts about the Scarlet Macaw (Ara macao):
  • The macaw with the largest range: The historic range of the Scarlet Macaw was from eastern Mexico south through Central America and throughout most of the Amazon rainforest. Formerly common in southeastern Mexico, they have disappeared from much of that country as well as several other parts of their range in Central America. They are still fairly common in remote parts of the Amazon such as the Tambopata Reserve.
  • How to tell them from the similar Red and Green Macaw: Scarlet Macaws are similar in appearance to the Red and Green Macaw (Ara Chloroptera) but can be separated from their slightly heavier cousin by the yellow in their wings, long tail that wiggles in flight, and by the lack of feathering on the face. Red and Green Macaws also have larger heads than Scarlet Macaws.
  • Scarlet Macaws need extensive, old growth forest: These large birds require huge areas of forest with plenty of big trees that can provide food and nesting sites. They eat a variety of seeds and fruits.
  • A small percentage of Scarlet Macaws nest each year: A rather small proportion of the Scarlet Macaw population in Tambopata nests each year due to the lack of adequate nest sites. They require tree cavities of a certain size and this appears to be one of the main limiting factors for their population in the region.
  • Long-lived: Scarlet Macaws can live for 30-40 years in the wild and some individuals might reach 60 years of age. Their longevity makes up for the low percentage of birds that raise young each year.
How to see Scarlet Macaws during your trip to the Peruvian Amazon:
  • Visit the clay licks or “colpas”: Scarlet Macaws are regular visitors to the clay licks near the Rainforest Expedition lodges for much of the year.
  • Watch from a canopy tower: Scarlet Macaws frequent the canopy of the rainforest and this is one of the best places to watch them as they fly past or perch in the tops of giant jungle trees.
  • Visit a nesting site: Rainforest Expedition guides are happy to bring guests to accessible nesting sites to get good looks at Scarlet Macaws. Nests are watched from an appropriate distance to avoid disturbing the birds in any way.
Visit Tambopata for your Peruvian jungle adventure and you can expect to see Scarlet Macaws because these spectacular birds are encountered on most trips to the Rainforest Expedition lodges. You can also visit the Tambopata Research Center and hang out with researchers from the Tambopata Macaw Project.
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March 11, 2012

Callie Garcia - The Jungle Tree

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A Huge Jungle Tree in Tambopata, Peru
Callie Garcia
Mrs. Sellers
White-English
16 September 2011

Jungle Tree

Have you ever done something both literally and metaphorically "breathtaking?" Well I did just that this summer when I went to Peru...

Near the end of my trip, my family and stopped at a lodge in the Amazon Rain-forest. While we were there, my family, two friends staying at the lodge, Pat and Jo, and myself, all decided to do a tree climbing activity. So we all walked to a 150-ft. high tree, the one we would climb. The guide went first and made the climb look really easy. He took less than a minute to get to the top. It looked simple enough, so I got ready and started climbing.

At first it was fun and I was enjoying the scenery. But soon enough, it got really tiring and I was out of breath. I wasn't sure that I could make it all the way to the top. I was going a lot slower and taking more breaks by the time I was halfway up. -breathtaking-

Once I was nearly there, a group of monkeys swung by and I stopped to watch them go right around me. It was incredible. Every single one of them moved with amazing grace and speed as they swept by through the trees. Not once did they falter as they leaped from one branch to another. I watched them until the very last one disappeared into the trees.

After that, it only took a few minutes to finally reach the top. It was beautiful. I was surrounded by butterflies and at least 50 other plants growing on the tree, such as flowers and nuts which made it really colorful. I could see the huge Amazon River and trees that went out farther than the sky itself. That jungle tree was totally, undeniably, and incredibly breathtaking.
March 07, 2012

Rainforest Expeditions - Tambopata Research Center

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The Tambopata Research Center
The Tambopata Research Center (TRC) is one of the most remote rainforest lodges in Peru, offering adventurous travelers an outstanding chance to engage with the natural wonders of the Amazon. 


It is a comfortable 18 bedroom lodge which was built more than fifteen years ago with the object of lodging tourists and researchers alike and of protecting the adjacent macaw clay lick. Because of its remote location in uninhabited wilderness housing stable populations of endangered wildlife, the small scale of its infrastructure and operations and the presence of researchers and naturalist guides, Tambopata Research Center is an excellent headquarters for in depth explorations of Amazonian nature and wildlife.

The TRC’s isolated location, inside an uninhabited area of the Tambopata National Reserve and next to the Bahajua-Sonene National Park, mean that the rainforest ecosystem around it remains pristine, while the populations of wild animals are all at carrying capacity. Much groundbreaking conservation research has been carried out from the TRC and you will likely have the chance during your stay to talk with biologists, ecologists and other experts staying at the TRC while they do fieldwork.

Tambopata Research Center



The Tambopata Research Center (TRC) is one of the most remote rainforest lodges in Peru, offering adventurous travelers an outstanding chance to engage with the natural wonders of the Amazon.

Quick facts about our lodge:
  • One wing of 18 rooms connected by raised boardwalk
  • 8 shared bathrooms
  • Research quarters
  • Dining room
  • The dining room is an open building that doubles as a bar
  • The research quarters is a two story building usually full of scientists and their assistants from the macaw project.
Tambopata Research Center  - Rooms with a rainforest view 
Common areas are open and spacey and offer ample area for resting and socializing. They include a dining room and bar, a reception lounge with souvenir shop, and an interpretation center.

Room Amenities

Our rooms are unique due to the fact that one side of the room open out onto the surrounding rainforest acting as a window into the forest allowing guests to enjoy this unique ecosystem even from the comfort of their hammocks and enabling you to view animals, including monkeys, often visible from the lodge. The reason we have been able to incorporate this "luxurious" design into our lodge is because mosquitoes are not really a problem around the lodge clearing and the open section allows for an intimate contact with the rain forest.

Other room amenities include:
  • Natural Construction - A simple, airy lodge built from traditional materials such as wood, palm fronds and clay.
  • Rooms - Eighteen bedrooms, eight shared bathrooms and a common area including for dining.
  • Electricity - A generator is turned on once a day to recharge batteries for guests or lodge facilities. At night it is very dark, so we recommend good flashlights.
  • Water - No hot water (its not as bad as you think)
  • Internet - Guests have access to wireless internet connections throughout the lodge.
  • Communication - TRC is in daily HF radio contact with our offices in Puerto Maldonado and Lima from where we are able to communicate by email, fax or phone with the rest of the world.
  • Private Rooms- Bedrooms are separated from one another by light cane fencing, with drapes instead of doors. Rooms are private but not soundproof.
  • Mosquito Nets - All have mosquito nets and bedside tables and a rack of clothes hangers.
  • Jungle Views - Bedrooms open out onto the surrounding rainforest, allowing guests to enjoy this unique ecosystem even on their downtime, with wild animals, including monkeys, often visible from the lodge.
Tambopata Research Center - Walkways with Heliconias
Meals

We provide self-serve three course meals at Tambopata Research Center. Meals consist of soup or appetizers, salad, main course, and desserts combining Peruvian and international cuisine. All fresh fruits and salads are thoroughly disinfected before serving. We also provide at all times unlimited amounts of boiled, filtered, cooled drinking water, coffee or tea and we provide fruit juices during the meals. If any visitor has special dietary requirements, we are happy to make individual arrangements, but please notify us.

Wildlife

The TRC’s greatest attraction is the rainforest – and creatures – that surround it. Species you have a strong chance of spotting during your stay include:
  • Macaws - The largest known macaw clay-lick in the Amazon is 500 yards from the lodge.
  • Dusky headed titi monkeys
  • Squirrel monkeys
  • Brown capuchin monkeys
  • Howler monkeys
  • Spider monkeys
  • Capybara
  • Caiman
  • Agouti
Tambopata Research Center - Check out the bathroom
Although very difficult to see, jaguars, tapirs and herds of peccary are also occasionally glimpsed by guests

How to get here 

Tambopata Research Center requires at least four nights because of the travel time. TRC is four hours upriver from Refugio Amazonas. To get to TRC you must fly to Puerto Maldonado from Lima or Cusco on daily commercial flights lasting 30 or 90 minutes respectively. From the airport you are transported by truck to the Infierno River Port where you board our boats for the two and half hour trip to Refugio Amazonas. From Refugio Amazonas, TRC is four hours upriver, and a few minutes walking from the river.

Communication

Tambopata Research Center is in daily HF radio contact with our offices in Puerto Maldonado and Lima from where we are able to communicate by email, fax or phone with the rest of the world.

Lighting

Tambopata Research Center has no electricity. Light is provided by numerous kerosene lamps and candles. A generator is turned on once a day to recharge batteries for guests or lodge facilities. At night it is very dark, so we recommend good flashlights.

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March 06, 2012

Bat Falcon Spotted At Posada Amazonas

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A Bat Falcon as seen from the tower at Posada Amazonas
The Bat Falcon (Falco rufigularis) is a small, colorful falcon that lives along tropical rivers and at the edge of rainforests. In the Tambopata region, this beautiful raptor is frequently seen by guests of the Rainforest Expeditions eco-lodges as they travel along the meandering, coffee-colored Tambopata River. It sometimes reveals its presence with a rapid series of notes similar to the sounds made by the American Kestrel. More often, it is noticed by guides and guests as it perches atop a tall snag at the river’s edge.

Bat Falcons prefer to spend their time at the edges of rivers to catch unwary birds and bats that happen to fly across the waterway. The unobstructed view and flying space favors the falcon and keeps many birds from flying across the river. For this reason, small birds adapted to the forest understory rarely fly across a waterway as wide as the Tambopata and therefore tend to become isolated from populations of the same species that reside in the forests on the opposite bank. Birds with rapid flight such as parakeets and swifts don’t hesitate in flying across rivers but they still do so with care and in flocks because they tend to be the birds that the Bat Falcon preys upon the most.

Some interesting facts about the Bat Falcon:



  • Named after a prey item: The Bat Falcon gets its name from its ability to catch bats. Although it also preys on birds, it also regularly takes bats at dawn and dusk.





  • A hood to shade its eyes: Like many species of falcons, the Bat Falcon has a pattern on its head that somewhat resembles a hood. This pattern is believed to help shade its eyes from the glare of the sun and is similar to the reason why baseball players use black markings under their eyes.





  • Long wings for fast flight: The long, pointed wings of Bat Falcons are an adaptation for swift flight that helps them snatch fast flying birds and bats out of the air.





  • How to separate it from the Orange-breasted Falcon: The Bat Falcon has a larger, rarer cousin that is occasionally seen in Tambopata. They look very similar but Orange-breasted falcons can be recognized by the orange color on the chest combined with course orange and black markings on the breast.





  • Notched bill: As with several other falcon species, Bat Falcons have a distinct notch on their bill. This “tooth” is an adaptation for quickly cutting the neck vertebrae of their prey.

    How to see Bat Falcons on an Amazon rainforest adventure:





  • Watch the treetops along the river: Guests of the Rainforest Expeditions eco-lodges have a fair chance of spotting one or more of these small birds of prey if they keep an eye on the tops of snags found at the river’s edge.





  • Scan for them from the canopy towers: Bat Falcons are also sometimes seen from canopy towers at Posada Amazonas. Scanning dead snags and treetops with a telescope sometimes reveals a Bat Falcon or two.

    Take a family friendly Peruvian jungle tour with Rainforest Expeditions to see Bat Falcons and other beautiful wildlife in the Amazon rainforest.



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