Trip To Jau National Park

Mario Cohn-Haft - December 1996

    The campina itself is spectacular. It’s really a big savanna or “cerrado.” The ground is covered with tussock grasses that are tall in most places, but, where the rainy season flooding is deeper, there is short grass interspersed with sundews. In these places the walking is easy, but they’re few and not connected, so we didn’t end up covering a very high proportion of the campina. Besides the grasses, there are scattered low bushes, stunted versions of familiar-looking trees, which seem like they’ve been there for centuries, adding a millimeter a year to their height. Where the grass is higher, the bushes are too, and the walking is almost impossible.

After a couple days of commuting back and forth to the campina and getting increasingly worn down, we decided to collect our mateiro and move everything to the unfinished camp just 15 min from the campina and equally near a really interesting low, palm-choked forest. That was a good decision, because, although we wasted a day moving and finishing up the camp, at least we had 3 more days to work the campina and vicinity more efficiently. The stream at this other camp was a classic campina generated stream of real dark blackwater and grooved scars in the rocks where indigenous people must have sharpened stone weapons and tools.

We left 3 days at the end of the trip to get out of the campina and back on the boat (rejoining the mammal crew) and then explore low, campina-like habitats and river islands near the mouth of the Rio Jau if time allowed. Carlos appeared at our camp on the next to last day and helped us pack, and Curtis never appeared. The walk out, which remember had taken us a total of 9 hours on the way in, took Carlos and the mateiro 3.5 hours and me and Sergio 5 hours. Nothing like lighter packs, knowing the route, and getting into shape to improve things. It was still brutal though, and we all nursed sore feet for some time afterwards.

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