Travel Journalist Nicholas Gill On Watching Wildlife in the Amazon

Watching wildlife in the Amazon isn’t like it is in the Serengeti or even in the Galapagos. Those places are defined by wide-open spaces where massive piles of animals sit and run and swim and eat together.  They are mostly larger animals too, so they’re easy to find.

NIGHT MONKEYSIn the Amazon, even with the primo equipment of the Aqua Amazon in a national park like Pacaya Samiria, things are not so easy. The wide-open spaces are replaced by dense forest. The large animals here are small in comparison and more spread out. Jaguars or tapirs do not sit in herds of 400 hundred. Even the largest troops of monkeys number just a few dozen. Some of the greatest creatures of the Amazon are smaller than a baseball. Plus many blend into their surroundings. What appears to be a stick is actually an insect.  The eyes of a Harpy Eagle are needed to spot most creatures here, but when you do find one it is an exciting occurrence. Time slows down. You become lost, even if in reality your encounter is only a few seconds. Sometimes, just for a moment, the animal stops and looks at you as you are looking at them and the two of you share some sort of connection. Both you and the animal are surprised to see the other. While a herd of wildebeests in Africa will just sit and chew their grass as a jeep full of tourists approaches as if it is not a big deal, the Amazonian creature will flee or sometimes come closer. They are as curious about you as you are about them. You are an alien to which they have never seen. Both hearts race and there is a rush of emotion for both creatures. Because your interaction with the animal is rare, you really take a good look at them. You look into their eyes as they are looking into yours. You see their soul a little. And they see yours.

To read more of Nicholas’ adventures in Latin America, visit his site: