Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The GreenTracks Naturalist


There are around five dozen species of lizards in the Iquitos region, and they have exploited all sorts of habitats: treetops, leaf litter, creeks and rivers. Amazonian lizards range from tiny geckos barely an inch in length to tegus, iguanas, and caiman lizards that can reach three to five feet. There are lizards that resemble their backgrounds and others that sport impressive colors. Herewith, a few for viewing.

Northern Caiman Lizard (Dracaena guianensis). Caiman Lizards are the reptilian equivalent of otters, diving for huge aquatic snails and surfacing to crack the shells with their powerful jaws.

Crocodile Tegu (Crocodilurus amazonicus). This graceful swimmer was known only from Brazil and Colombia until we rediscovered a population barely 80 miles from Iquitos.

Amazon Wood Lizard (Enyalioides laticeps). Wood Lizards are elusive inhabitants of the understory and forest floor deep in primary rainforest. When threatened they often remain motionless and are difficult to detect.

Amazon Streak Lizard (Gonatodes humeralis). Streak Lizards are tiny geckos that live among the roots and trunks of trees in rainforest. Males, like the one pictured here, can sport beautiful colors during breeding season.

Cocha Whiptail (Kentropyx altamazonica). This speedy lizard spends much of its time on floating islands of vegetation and it can actually run across the surface of the water for several yards.

Collared Streak Lizard (Gonatodes concinnatus). This beautiful gecko is actually rather scarce in the Iquitos region, and we have only found them along two river systems. Like other Streak Lizards they can be seasonally quite colorful.


Friday, March 26, 2010


A Land of Ghosts. The Braided Lives Of People and the Forest in Far Western Amazonia.
By David G. Campbell. 2005.

Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston.

It is a bit difficult to decide just how to categorize this book. It is an adventure, in fact a scientific adventure, but it is also an achingly beautiful distillation of feelings, thoughts, and experiences. The author’s descriptions of river, forest, flora, fauna, and above all the people whose lives are intertwined with the place make for what we feel is the finest piece of nature writing ever produced. We have spent over three decades in the Amazon and Orinoco Basins and Campbell has told the story we feel inside, but he has done it with an eloquence we could never emulate.

More info/Order


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Aerial views of Iquitos, Peru

Iquitos is a city surrounded by rivers - the Itaya, the Nanay and the Amazon. (Click on map or photos to enlarge.)

Plaza 28 de Julio. (July 28 is Peruvian Independence Day.)

Looking East - The Itaya River in the foreground, the Amazon River in the background.

Downtown and the Plaza de Armas.

Looking at Iquitos across the Nanay River.

Downtown Iquitos. The runway of the old airport can be seen on the left.

Quistococha (Lake Quisto) The zoo/park is at the upper left.


Friday, March 19, 2010

Peruvian cuisine

Peruvian Cuisine Blog
12 March, 2009

Sitting in front of a delicious ceviche, Julio - the founder of Kiniro and all of the following projects - thought of a website that would spread the Peruvian cuisine taste all over the world. That was the first step for the creation of his web site, which is now one of the most important sites dedicated to the gastronomy in Peru.

Rocoto Relleno (Stuffed Hot Peppers)

Peruvian cuisine is as varied as the geography and the cultures here. This site contains some wonderful recipes (including the Pisco Sour - Peru's national drink). One of the many delights in a visit to Peru is trying new dishes.
Buen provecho!

Pisco Sour



Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Top 10 Archaeological Discoveries of 2009

en Peru
11 January, 2010

Peru - the land that never ceases to amaze and whose history is so long and plentiful that we've barely been able to scratch the surface. Find out what archaeologists have discovered just during 2009.

While today Peru might be a quiet unassuming place that only rarely surfaces on the international radar, it was once, over the course of a healthy 6000 years, one of the principle centers of human civilization, home to various distinct civilizations who built awe-inspiring monuments and achieved the riches and glory of empire.

The Lord of Ucupe - A Moche King

Royalty, priests, pre-Incan cities, temples and sculptures are just some of the exciting discoveries of 2009.



Friday, March 12, 2010

Machu Picchu will be open to tourists soon

Machu Picchu, one of the New 7 Wonders of the World and a World Heritage Site, is expected to reopen to the public very soon, with reinforced and safe entrance roads.

After a meeting of officials from the Ministry of Transport and Communications, the Peruvian Government’s Program for Road Building, Ferrocarril Transandino (owners of the railroad), the Peruvian Service of Meteorology and Hydrology, the Vice-Ministry of Tourism and the Peru Export and Tourism Promotion Board, it was announced that the work involved in the reopening of Machu Picchu to tourists had achieved important advances to the access and entrance routes of the Inca citadel.

Commercial route to Machu Picchu

The route to be used to get to Machu Picchu and will be divided into two parts. The first one will be by bus or car from Cuzco to the provisional railway station in Piscacucho, and from there the train will complete the trip to the railway station in Aguas Calientes.

Ferrocarril Transandino, the private company in charge of the southern and southeastern Peruvian railways, has already finished repairs of the railway route between Km. 82 and Km. 90, as well as the route between Km. 106 and Km. 110. Provided the weather is favorable, these advances will make the route Piscacucho (Km. 82) – Aguas Calientes (Km. 110) operative by Monday, March 29

As for the road, the existing asphalted route between Cuzco and Ollantaytambo has not suffered any damage. The 10-kilometer stretch of road connecting Ollantaytambo with Piscacucho will be repaired and widened to allow the safe transit of tourist buses.

Northern route to Machu Picchu

Also, there is a second route combining road and railway, known as the Northern Route, which connects Ollantaytambo with Alfamayo and on through Santa María, Santa Teresa, Puente Carrilluchayuc and Estación Hidroeléctrica. At that point, visitors can take the train to Aguas Calientes. According to the Ministry of Transport and Communications, this road has suffered damage from the January rainfall and is still being repaired. It is expected that it will be operative in approximately three months.

The Machu Picchu Sanctuary itself is in perfect condition and has not suffered any damage from the rainfall.

Inca Trail

It was also announced that the Inca Trail – the trekking route to Machu Picchu – is not open to tourists at the moment due to safety concerns about the bridges on the route that may have deteriorated.


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The mysterious ruins of the Peruvian 'warriors of the clouds'

Living in Peru
19 January, 2007

by Wolfy Becker

Centuries ago the mysterious people of the Chachapoya fought together with the Spanish conquistadores against the Incas, before they were destroyed by epidemic diseases such as the measles and smallpox. A new discovery of ancient ruins could disclose the secret of the "cloud warriors".

Only little is known about the Chachapoya. The first worldwide publication came from the American scientist Gene Savoy in 1965 when he discovered one of their city ruins. The Chachapoya are a civilization that flourished in the upper Amazon, between its Huallaga and the Marañón tributaries, from about the ninth to the fifteenth century AD.

They resisted the Incas and after the arrival of the Spaniards they fought side by side with the colonial rulers against their joint rival. Because the Chachapoya lived in the misty rain forest of present day Peru, they are now referred to as the "cloud people" or "fog warriors" - according to the name's origin which derives from Quechua, Peru's second official language spoken mainly by the indigenous population.



Friday, March 5, 2010

The GreenTracks Naturalist

Frogs in the Amazon

For those who admire art, spending time in the Amazon Basin is a visual treat, although the works on display tend to be alive. For the past twenty years we have taken delight in all that there is to see in the rainforest. From stunning birds to bizarre and gaudy insects to colorful frogs, it is all a visual feast. Herewith, a few of our fine froggie friends.

Amazon Horned Frog (Ceratophrys cornuta).This is essentially an animated mouth. With steel-trap jaws this predator ambushes other toads and frogs unwary enough to venture near it on the forest floor.

Napo Poison Frog (Amereega bilinguis).This frog is deceptively marked. The bright yellow spots actually help to break up the outline of this frog when it is fleeing a predator.

Amazon Clown Treefrog (Dendropsophus leucophyllata).This frog calls in enormous choruses from floating islands of vegetation.

Milk Frog (Trachycephalus resinifictrix). Named owing to the milky toxins it secretes to protect itself, this is one of the few frogs that uses a water-filled tree hole for rearing its young.

Giant Monkey Frog (Phyllomedusa bicolor). Frogs come in all sizes, although most are small. That's not the case with this aptly named frog, which descends from its home in the treetops only to mate and lay its eggs.

Snouted Toad (Rhinella dapsilis). Toads have a lot of personality. This rare one reminds us of an old prize fighter.

Red Monkey Frog (Phyllomedusa atelopoides). One of the rarest and most unusually colored amphibians in the Amazon and, unlike its relatives, this little frog is primarily terrestrial.

Banded Monkey Frog (Phyllomedusa tomopterna). Like their relatives, they are able to sleep exposed on leaves in the dry canopy of rainforest. They accomplish this by protecting themselves with a waxy cuticle that effectively seals their delicate skin during the day.

Yellow-striped Poison Frog (Ranitomeya flavovittatus). This frog advertises its toxic skin via brilliant colors.

Red Poison Frog (Ranitomeya reticulata). This tiny frog looks like a jewel as it darts about in the leaf litter of upland rainforests.


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Peru poison frog reveals secret of monogamy

BBC Earth News
22 February, 2010

By Matt Walker

The first monogamous amphibian has been discovered living in the rainforest of South America.
Genetic tests have revealed that male and females of one species of Peruvian poison frog remain utterly faithful.

More surprising is the discovery that just one thing - the size of the pools of water in which they lay their tadpoles - prevents the frogs straying. That constitutes the best evidence yet documented that monogamy can have a single cause, say scientists. Details of the frog's sex life is to be published in the journal The American Naturalist.

"This is the first discovery of a truly monogamous amphibian," says biologist Dr Jason Brown, then of East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina, who made the discovery with colleagues Dr Victor Morales and Professor Kyle Summers.

The monogamous frog species Ranitomeya imitator, known as the mimic poison frog, is already known to science. In recent years, Dr Brown and his colleagues have extensively studied many of its habits, which were filmed by the BBC natural history documentary series Life in Cold Blood.