Our journey to the Las Piedras Amazon Center

This is our second blog in the Las Piedras guest blog series. Check out Catherine’s layers of complexity to learn more about the design of the rainforest canopy.

After several hours, we saw the sign to our destination from the river. On our journey, we passed many areas where the forest had already been cut down and replaced by agriculture. We could easily see the dramatic difference from the river. The Las Piedras Amazon Center (LPAC) was founded “just in time” to save this piece of land and keep the forest intact.

We unloaded our stuff and walked 10 minutes on a path through the forest to where we were staying. I was pleasantly surprised to find a rustic but well-designed eco-center – LPAC! It had one very large structure that included a communal kitchen, where we would eat and have meetings, as well as some designated chill areas with hammocks. For sleeping, there were additional structures with mosquito-netted bunk beds on raised and covered platforms. Compostable toilets, sinks, and cold showers, were all part of the package.

Jungle trails at the Las Piedras Amazon Center
Jungle trails at the Las Piedras Amazon Center

A slice of heaven

The forest completely encircled LPAC. It felt like there was almost no separation from it, and at the same time, it also felt safe. On our first tour of LPAC, Dave Johnston, the center’s founder, told us about their successes and challenges. These included changing the design of their original toilets and the difficulties of being powered entirely by a generator with a life of its own. What a humble and great attitude!

Red howler monkey in the trees above LPAC
Red howler monkey in the trees above LPAC

A surprise awakening

Waking up the first morning was a shock. Catherine, Liz and I shared a “pod” in the sleeping area. At 4:30am, a tremendously loud sound above our platform woke me and Catherine up. I thought it was an enormous wind. Catherine was sure it was Godzilla! We woke up Liz who had been to the forest many times and asked her what it was. She laughed. “Those are howler monkeys and we hear them every morning”. And just like that, they became our alarm clocks for the entire stay.

Our activities throughout the week included early morning hikes before breakfast, night hikes with flashlights, and a choice of morning activities including visiting the famous macaw clay lick, contributing to local reforestation efforts by planting native trees, and patrolling with the rangers. Most of us were able to fit in lots of these opportunities, and you can learn more about our experiences in the blogs to come.

Red and green macaws at the clay lick
Red and green macaws at the clay lick

Conservation in the Amazon

The afternoons were time for group meetings, lectures, and “recovery” from all the activities we were doing. We were also lucky to hear presentations from LPAC’s resident scientists, who are monitoring changes in the region over time, and weren’t shy about sharing their amazing camera trap footage!

We were able to spend time with the ARCAmazon and LPAC teams to more clearly understand their challenges and hopes, and they’re working in partnership with WildFF. They were all wide open to receiving feedback, suggestions, and any other comments or ideas that could be of help. I think all of us felt that we wanted to give more if we could.

Liz was very insistent on reminding us that “rest” of any kind is a wonderful “activity” and simply listening to the sounds and being with the smells and rhythms of the forest including taking a nap was always an option. I think that many of us, for one reason or another, deeply enjoyed some of the “rest periods” including showers, hanging out, getting to know each other better, or simply lying in a hammock. After all, our lives are so busy now, who wouldn’t relish the opportunity to disconnect from everything and be at one with nature?

This is our second blog in the Las Piedras guest blog series. Stay tuned for the next one, which will showcase the role of predators in the jungle.


About the Author

David Feldman

David Feldman

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