D a i l y   S c h e d u l e

Day 1 (Saturday, 14 March 1998):
Travel day from New York through Miami to Iquitos with an overnight in the Maria Antonia Hotel. Upon arrival we reviewed important details (drinking water, toilets, money exchange, etc.) before a much needed night of rest for this, our first night abroad.

Day 2 (Sunday, 15 March 1998):
We traveled 180 km upriver and south of Iquitos via two speed boats to Yacumama Lodge, an ecologically conscious tourist facility that is a base camp for the Yacumama Preservation Zone. Upon arrival we toured the lodge and surrounding property (including its purpose, mission, and long-term goals). After dinner we ended the day with a two-hour night hike through the rainforest for close-up looks at nocturnal fauna (including beautiful arthropods, intriguing calls and songs, intoxicating odors, and much more). Back at the lodge all members gathered in the dining hall for journal entries and our first roundtable discussion.

Day 3 (Monday, 16 March 1998):
A pre-breakfast bird float down the Yarapa with journals, binoculars, and field-guides to see toucans, hummers, tanagers, woodcreepers, and more. After breakfast we had our first workshop. It was entitled "Architecture of a Tropical Rainforest" and was conducted by Bruce and Mike. Discussion and field-work looked at the major vegetation strata in the rainforest and how these affect overall biodiversity. Soils and microclimate were also considered as well as a rapid-assessment project from the Yacumama Canopy Tower. Our afternoon workshop focused on canopy access from the tower. Norman Walters and his staff from the lodge were our guides through the workshop. After detailed instructions about techniques and safety, each expedition member put on high-climbing technical gear and accessed a remote canopy platform from the top of the tower for close-up looks at treetops flora and fauna. In the late afternoon we returned to camp for Amazon crafts. Local artisans traveled to the lodge and gave one-to-one instructions on how to construct handicrafts including necklaces and bracelets, bowls, and other goods. After dinner Bruce gave a slide/lecture overview of canopy access techniques, especially since the 1980s, including SRT, towers, walkways, sleds, and airships. Notable canopy ecologists and some of the strengths/weaknesses of these systems were also discussed. The day concluded with another night hike through the forest during which we saw everything from a smoky jungle frog to a bird-eating tarantula.

Day 4 (Tuesday, 17 March):
Our day began with an early-morning bird watch from the Yacumama Canopy Tower during which we saw black-spotted barbets, masked tityras, paradise tanagers, and blue-and-yellow macaws through the strangler fig and cats-claw vine at the top of the tower. Our morning workshop topic was the geology and water quality of the Amazon Basin. The workshop gave a historical perspective on the basin, its relation to the Andes, and a look at the role of refugia in the evolution of the river system. We began a 12-hour watch from the lodge dock on water chemistry including such biological indicators as dissolved oxygen, temperature, pH, and conductivity. During the afternoon we discussed symbiotic relationships (predation and parasitism, commensalism, and mutualism) and then hiked through the woods for our first lengthy daytime examination of the forest. This was followed by a second workshop on Amazon crafts, a swim and dinner, and a slide/lecture presentation by Mike on ecological relationships in the rainforest. The day ended with a caiman watch along the Yarapa and other nearby water systems.

Day 5 (Wednesday, 18 March):
After an early-morning boat outing for birds, we had breakfast and then prepared to travel to nearby Puerto Miguel to try our hand at bartering and buying local handicrafts. We spent the morning shopping for souvernirs (including museum-quality baskets, blowguns, necklaces, decorative gourds, and much more). The afternoon workshop focused on our research papers and our animal and plant fact sheets. Our topics included tropical deforestation, strangler figs, ant communities, forest canopies, El Nino, and local tribes and cultures. Another quick swim and handicrafts followed by dinner and a closing slide/lecture presentation by Bruce entitled "Global Conservation and Today's Youth." We also did some preliminary packing today since tomorrow we depart for Iquitos to begin the second part of our expedtion into the High Andes along the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. During this part of the trip we will be able to compare lowland rainforest ecosystems with a multitude of ecosystems along the trail including cloud forest, specialized alpine forest, and montane grasslands.

Day 6 (Thursday, 19 March):
An early-morning departure via speed boats back to Iquitos; no one wanted to say goodbye to Yacumama Lodge! We checked into the Maria Antonia once again and then traveled to the nearby Quistacocha Zoo for a tour and a meeting with the new director. This preliminary meeting may prove an important connection between our own AZA-accredited zoo and this developing collection and may include service projects for some of our students and graduates down the road. After dinner, the director joined us in the hotel for an extraordinary couple of hours talking about conservation issues and individual responsibility.

Day 7 (Friday, 20 March):
After breakfast our morning tour of Iquitos included the Belem Market (with ethnobotanical goods, an assortment of fish, colorful vegetables and fruits all for sale), the Main Square, and some last-minute shopping. Then, sadly, in the afternoon we bid goodbye to Iquitos and traveled to Cuzco via an overnight in the Miraflores area of Lima. The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is before us now!

—Bruce R., Instructor

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