La Selva Jungle Lodge - October 2013

Processing the photos from our trip to Madre de Dios, Peru in June gave me a lot of work. There were many photos, about 64 GBs of material in all. Yet, "champion" insects were few. I speculated that  one explanation for this could be that May and June were not the best months for insect hunting. I thought that perhaps toward the end of the non-rainy season we would have better luck. October seemed to be our last chance this year before the rains picked up.  I explored via the internet the Ecuadorian Amazon. Cristian and I did have a productive trip before to the Yasuni Research Station in the province of Orellana and about a 2 hour drive from the south bank of the Napo River. I narrowed down my preferences to two ecolodges close to the Napo. One, Sacha Lodge, did not have the courtesy to respond to my lengthy email about the purpose of our trip, and the person I spoke to on the phone initially was abrupt. So be it! On the other hand, the response from La Selva was the polar opposite. These high-end ecolodges are accustomed to receive only wealthy tourists for usually 4 day packages and each group or couple also shells out a hefty sum for their own doting tourist guide. When a non-tourist comes along, such as a scientist or photographer or filmmaker, who has had prior experiences in the tropics and who does not want a tourist guide/teacher, and who also asks for a discounted price, well, that poses a challenge for some of these lodges. However, La Selva "rolled with" the circumstances that I was presenting and was accommodating and friendly. 

I will skip the travelogue since my profession is that of photographer. On the way to the lodge, which consists of a 3 hour boat ride down the Napo from the town of Coca, and then a short hike on the north bank of the river to the Garzacocha lake, we were accompanied by a guide. When we were on the lake in sight of the lodge, in a convincing manner he stated that we were on a black water lake and that due to the high PH count, we would encounter very few insects. Oh! Later on, he added that there was nothing dangerous in the area. Oh, no!  That night, I had a nightmare in which Cristian, on returning from his first night of searching for insects in the forest, looked at me with an expression of utter dejection and exhaustion and said that he had found absolutely nothing, that there was no living thing in the forest! When I woke up the next morning and ascertained that Cristian was also awake, I said nothing to him for 15 minutes, so fearful that the nightmare was the truth. "So, how did it go?", I finally said. "Good" he said. When I looked at what he had found, I saw that "good" was not the correct word. Insect champion after insect champion was what I saw and this continued every day for the 7 full days that we were at La Selva. Varieties of Acanthops mantids, spectacular treehoppers, many wonderful Typophyllum leaf-mimicking katydids, other katydids with great faces! We had stumbled upon an undiscovered exotic insect paradise, a world with a history of never having been devastated by man and whose existence was unknown to almost everyone who lived and worked there. So, the speech I had heard that there were few insects and nothing dangerous was just a propaganda pitch directed at a certain class of tourist, those people who are phobic of insects and possible dangers from animals. Unfortunately, some people in management at the lodge seem to assume that all the tourists share this phobia.

Other than the "speech" which led to my nightmare, everything else at La Selva was 1A, undoubtedly the best tropical habitat that I have visited. The insect find was like unearthing a treasure chest of gold and precious jewels. As I am writing this blog, tomorrow will be November 18, 2013, the first day of a month-long presentation on my Flickr website of the best photos from our Ecuadorian expedition to La Selva. I have done my utmost to publicize this event to all my friends and contacts. Ideally, I would like the whole world to see the gems that live in the tropics. With eyes wide open, one can see that these exotic beings are much more than mere insects!

 

I'm a self taught nature photographer specializing in exotic insects. You can learn more about my story by checking out the feature documentary film 'Learning To See: the World of Insects'.

www.LearningToSeeFilm.com