A tropical thunderstorm is just unloading; when the murmur of the rain fades, we continue on a muddy path through the forest. Then we go by boat on a curici, a lake that consists of a truncated oxbow lake. “Lobo,” Luis suddenly calls into the unreal silence. “Lobo de Rio”, wolf of the rivers, as the animal is called here. The Machiguenga slowly paddle after Luis’ outstretched arm until the first Giant Otter (Pteronura brasiliensis) actually appears, then soon a second animal, a third, and finally six of the predators. It is a whole family hunting on the edge of the forest. The animals busily move along the bank, fish between fallen tree roots, then again under branches, emerge, panting like walruses, then turn on their backs and eat the fish from their own shiny belly.
The air is clear. The forest surrounds the lake like a green wall, the surface of the water is as smooth as glass. All that can be heard is the faint splashing of paddles being pulled through the water by two locals from the Machiguenga tribe.
The journey through the Manu region normally begins in Pilcopata, a town at the foot of the Andes, or along the shores of the Madre de Dios just south of the town right on the border of the national park. Enormous masses of water vapor rise from the thicket during the day, move up the Andean slopes and feed the vegetation of a lush cloud forest there. The water rushes back into the plain through rugged gorges. The eternal cycle acts as an air conditioner for the entire region. Together with the Brazilian Amazon rainforest, which adjoins to the east, the area stabilizes the global climate.
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