By our second morning on the reserve, we were used to the early wake-up call. We went through the morning routine of breakfast, and some quick stops at the beaches to search for turtle eggs. Katoo was feeling tired because he had stayed up most of the night chasing off poachers, but he still wanted to lead our hike, so soon we were back in the jungle, tromping around in our gum boots.
There a few giant otters that live on the reserve, and we had asked Katoo if we could try to see them, so he led us down the trail to a river where they can sometimes be found. Along the way, we stopped at quite possibly the biggest tree I have ever seen.
After checking a spot on the river and not finding any otters, we moved on. We could hear howler monkeys, and we set our sights on finding them next. Katoo led us toward the direction the unearthly roars were coming from, and eventually we were close. We kept on catching the scent of the monkeys, but they can still be incredibly hard to spot even when you know they are nearby. We spent a good amount of time wandering around a small area, gazing at the treetops, and were finally rewarded with some views of the howlers.
We had spent the entire morning looking for the howler monkeys, so Katoo wanted to cover some more ground before we ate second breakfast. We eventually stopped in the middle of the trail to eat, and we got around to the topic of rock climbing (as we often do). Katoo told us that he is a climber too, and eventually revealed that he came very close to summiting K2 (the second tallest peak in the world, which has gained the reputation of being the most difficult and dangerous mountaineering endeavor that there is). I am somewhat obsessed with the idea of mountaineering, although I am as of now too intimidated to try it (and would never even consider trying a peak like K2), so I was completely shocked and impressed. We chatted about climbing for the rest of the meal, but soon it was time to get moving again.
After breakfast, we checked another spot on the river, where we were able to see the otters’ den, but again did not see any of the elusive mammals.
Although our attempts to find the giant otters proved fruitless, we were still able to see another mammal, a rare monk saki. This monkey was fully aware of our presence, and flashed intense stares in my direction every time I snapped a photo.
Around this time, Katoo needed a rest because the lack of sleep the night before was getting to him. He parked in front of a large mangrove tree, and we took the opportunity to climb up its roots. After a bit, we were thoroughly tired from the exertion and the heat, and Katoo was a bit refreshed, so the energy level of the group was more even on the whole. We started walking back toward the boat, and Katoo showed us a tree that had been completely swallowed up by another tree called a strangler fig. Strangler figs start growing from up in the canopy of the rainforest, and move downward in the form of vines surrounding another tree.
Eventually the tree beneath the strangler fig dies and rots away, leaving a hole where the original tree used to be.
Although we were having fun, the group was getting fairly lethargic, so we were glad when we reached the boat and were on our way back to the lodge for lunch. Katoo needed some rest, so after lunch he had Requelmer and Pedro teach us how to rebury the turtle eggs we had been collecting. They showed what depth to dig new holes for the eggs, and how to place them properly. Afterwards we got some free time to relax before going back out on the boat for the evening.
Katoo stayed home to get to sleep early, so Requelmer and Pedro showed us around, stopping at the beaches to collect eggs and watch the river dolphins swim by. We also got a great view of another howler monkey before we turned around and got ready for bed, eagerly anticipating the next day in the jungle.