Coke Smith Photography & Travelogue

Expedition to Peruvian Amazona

Blue-headed Parrots visiting a mineral lick near Manu National Park.


In 1996, 1997 and 2001, I traveled to the Amazona province of eastern Peru.  All tolled I think I have put in about a month exploring various areas of the Peruvian Amazon.  I have visited Manu National Park and the surrounding areas on two occasions and Explorama Lodge near Iquitos once.  I have had some fantastic wildlife sightings while in the various locations.

Some of my highpoints include such species as Giant Otters, various species of Monkeys such as Woolly Monkeys, various Spider Monkeys, Coati, Hoatzin, and many others.  I have yet to see the South American Tapir or the Giant Anteater, so that means I will have to head back!  I very much enjoyed my early morning treks in to the mid-Andes cloud forests to see the Cock-of-the-Rock leks.  The mineral licks in Manu and the surrounding areas were amazing.  Seeing thousands of Macaw and various Parrot species congregating around the exposed minerals along the river edges is a sight that I will never forget.


Click the links below to see more images from the Galapagos and South & Central America

Animals of South & Central America

Birds of South & Central America

South & Central American People & Places


 Here are some more images of my experiences in the Peruvian Amazon:




A Black Caiman seen soaking up sun along the banks of the Manu River just outside Manu National Park.  We saw many of these large reptiles along the banks of the Manu and its tributaries during the two week-long stays in the park.



A view of one of the many ox-bow lakes in Manu National Park.  We came to the blind in the canopy often to search for caiman and the Giant Otters.  We did see the otters as well as many other species in this placid and traquil wilderness.



While this particular Black Spider Monkey was clearly habituated, we did see many in the wild during our many treks in the Peruvian Amazon of Manu and Explorama.



This Brown Capuchin came to investigate us while we were birding along the road in the mid-Andes.  We were staying at the "Cock-of-the-Rock Lodge".



We came across this rainforest giant while on one of our many treks in Manu.  Note the butress roots.  This tree was most likely a Ficus species.



Perhaps one of the more common genera in the arboreal floral kingdom, Ficus has a multitude of growth strategies.  Stangler figs will usually kill off their host leaving a massive cavity such as the one seen here.



One of the many Giant Otters seen in the ox-bow lakes of Manu National Park.  What struck me most was the awesome sound these huge mustelids made while working their way through the waterways.





Another rainforest giant.  This Caligo butterfly was seen along a small tree in the rainforest.  The camouflage and mimicry works for most predators.



Although this was not the one, we were lucky enough to catch a fleeting glimpse of the "lord of the jungle", a jaguar, while we were cruising the Manu River. (cap.)



There are several locations in the Peruvian Amazon where minerals are exposed in river banks that attract thousands of parrots and macaws.  These Mealy Parrots are taking advantage of these minerals.





These beautiful Blue-headed Parrots were by far the most common bird visiting the licks.  I could not believe how long the waves of different species lasted.  The species generally flew in together, one after another.



These amazing Red & Blue Macaws were the final wave of birds that came in this glorious morning.  The one problem I had taking pictures this day was not the lighting conditions or weather.  It was my brand new Canon 100-400 IS 5.6 lens.  I was not used to the IS function and kept it switched on while the camera was mounted on a tripod!  I took six rolls of film (these are all scanned images) and only these two half-ass images were worth keeping!  I could not believe it!  I learned a painful and expensive lesson this morning to thoroughly test my new equipment BEFORE traveling half way around the globe to use it!




We woke at 4:30 AM to trek in to the woods to get a good look at these rare and difficult to see birds.  The Cock-of-the-Rock is a beautiful bird that forms three-dimensional leks in the meso-canopy of the mid-Andes forests in Central and South America.  We saw these near the Cock-in-the-Rock Lodge.  At this time, early morning treks were the only way to see these birds, and you had to climb up trees with nothing but the most basic platforms.  Lately I saw an Art Wolfe special that showed him photographing these birds in the middle of the day from a platform that looked more like a theater!



This was the luckiest male I have ever seen!  During our three hours in the lek, this stud was picked at least EIGHT times by the females in the area for a "quicky" in the forest.  What a stud!





The "Cock of the Rock" Lodge located on the east side of the Andes.  A great spot with tons of wildlife.  During our stay here, we saw Woolly Monkeys, Brown Capuchins, Aguotis and many more.




The cloud forest of the Andes seems to be an unbroken expanse of forest.



The Andean cloud forest covered in fog.



The great Manu River.  Shortly after this image was taken, we spotted a Jaguar walking the shores.



Wood Storks taking flight on the shores of the Manu.