Night walks in the Amazon | Searching for caimans with a flashlight
One of the most interesting activities in the Amazon happens at night when the caiman search starts. The jungle awakens at sunset, night predators change the entire rhythm of the forest and in total darkness, the specific sound of the jungle becomes even more pronounced. From a boat that slowly floats along the banks of the river, you can see with a flashlight the glowing eyes of the largest predator in the Amazon.
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The caiman can only be found in Central and South America and is divided into 6 different species, the largest being the black caiman. It can reach 5 meters long, and as an adult has no predators, their prey being large animals such as jaguar or capybara. They are semi-aquatic reptiles, that can keep their whole body in the water, while the eyes and nostrils remain on the surface to prowl.
Caiman population is widely distributed in the Amazon basin, so many lodges organize night walks in order to their search. Because we visited two parts of the jungle, we did observe different species of caimans during our night activities and also by day, when they were floating near our boats or standing on river banks.
In Taricaya Reserve, on the high muddy banks of Madre de Dios River, the caimans were attracted by the lights and noises around the lodge, so they would often be seen around the boats and near the pier. Because of that, at Amazon Planet Lodge was never necessary to get too far to see a caiman, but taking advantage of the experience of searching them with our flashlights in the dark, on a narrow canal we had the big surprise to see a capybara family with babies.
Due to their glittering eyes, caimans can be seen faster in the dark, and depending on the guide, the experience can be very special. However, in Tambopata National Park we could see them during the day on our way to Chuncho Claylick, but also at Sandoval Lake, which is well known for its large population of black caimans and giant otters.