In the rare moments when the sun shines, the forest around us turns into a warm golden yellow and we can have a glimpse of the beautiful landscape abundant with waterfalls and cliffs. The cloud forests where we make our living and do our sampling make a perfect den for witches of a fairy tale– trees and ancient tree ferns (Cyathea) are covered with dense wet moss, lichens, bromeliads, orchids, vines and many other plants. The diversity of insects is astonishing, with different species of bees and butterflies taking advantage of our salty clothes and provisions. Cicadas, mosquitoes, grasshoppers, bugs, cockroaches, millipedes, centipedes, daddy long legs, scorpions, spiders, wasps, moths, and large terrestrial snails (a delicacy in the Ashaninka culture) also made our companion.
Fortunately, biting creatures (especially mosquitoes and black and sand flies) are not very abundant, although one of our guides was stung by a scorpion and we got some tiger mites. Poisonous snakes are also rare, unfortunately. We found a medium-sized bush master (Lachesis muta) that escaped my attempt to catch it, and a common South American lancehead (Bothrops atrox) was killed by the Ashaninka.
José Padial and his team have established camp in the remote Vilcabamba mountains of Peru in the pursuit of biodiversity research. He blogs and sends photos as often as possible capturing his expedition along the way. These photos were taken during the week of 2/7-2/11/16.