The view before me was undoubtedly East African. A single tree standing alone against rolling grassland as far as the eye could see, a never ending blue sky dotted with cotton wool clouds, a shimmering lake in the distance at the foot of haze covered mountains. This was glorious, glorious savannah and I loved it!
Not particularly African, however, was the sudden appearance of a loping, long haired creature running right towards us. As it turned, we saw the distinct profile of a giant anteater! Grinning like a Cheshire cat and completely and utterly spellbound, we watched this magnificent creature for probably just a few minutes but it felt like hours...and all before 8 am!
The beautiful drive back to the lodge for breakfast was enhanced by sightings of king vulture, wattled jacana and the flushing of a crested bob white. A little hammock time was then required to digest the morning’s events and while later the heat of the day and before I knew it, it was time to head out onto the river.
The 50 kilometres of river that can be traversed from here teems with life. Giant river otter, giant river turtle and black and spectacled caiman can all be seen but it is also beautiful to sit back and enjoy the novelty of river travel. The wall of vegetation on either side of us held a cacophony of bird song and our sightings were regular and varied. Kingfisher after kingfisher flew by along with jabiru and numerous species of heron.
Leaving the Rupununi River, we slowly negotiated through a small area of mangroves where long nosed bats clinging bark just above the water line were pointed out. Emerging into one of many ox bow lakes found along the river, squirrel monkeys teased us flying through the trees looking for a spot to hunker down for the night. Gliding past huge Victoria amazonica lily pads, we came to a halt right next to a tightly bound bud. Pure white petal after pure white petal opened and we watched, rum punch in hand, as the sun slid from view and the female flower blossomed, releasing scent and heat into the evening to attract its beetle pollinators. Taking a full 30 minutes, we watched until dusk gave way to night and the sounds of the forest encompassed us.
Returning to the Rupununi, we were accompanied on our journey home by low flying fish eating bats, an Amazonian tree boa and, just before arriving back at the lodge, a boat billed heron (a similar creature to a shoebill). Looking up, the stars were astounding, almost close enough to touch, and the Milky Way was clearly visible.
A cold beer and dinner al fresco under a lantern strewn tree, completed what can only be described as a marvellous day! A little slice of heaven in the northern most reach of the mighty Amazon.