Tuesday 22 October

My tummy is playing up in the morning and I nearly give today’s boat trip a miss, but in the end decide to risk it. We divide ourselves between a large dugout canoe and a tin motorboat, and speed for about two hours up-river. The driver takes a meandering course across the water, presumably to avoid rocks just under the surface. Mostly the water is flat, but we pass through occasional rapids. Either side is dense jungle. What with the combination of lack of sleep and the heat of the day, a couple of times I find myself nodding off and catch myself just in time to avoid falling out of the canoe.

Finally we pull into the bank and get out. We begin walking into the forest up a steep path. At first it is cooler under the trees, but soon the sweat is pouring off. Our first view is from a clearing around a large rocky area on the far side of the hill. The view over the jungle is impressive, but the air is very humid and still and it is impossible to stay cool. We continue on to a large black rock back over on the river side of the hill where there is a magnificent view over the river and the surrounding forest canopy. It is still hot, but there seems to be a slight breeze this side that makes it more bearable.

Back to the boats, and then we continue up-river for just another five minutes before coming to a sandy beach where we stop for a swim and for lunch. Hundreds of bright yellow butterflies descend on Patricia’s discarded top lying on the beach. While we are swimming, some river dolphins come over to investigate us.

The guides have prepared us a pasta salad for lunch, and then there is time to go back in the water. This time the dolphins come a bit closer. There seem to be three of them and they keep us guessing where they are going to surface next.

On the way back we stop briefly at an Indian village, but there is not much to see there. Further on down the river we stop at Black Rock Island, an aptly named granite monolith rising out of the water, crossed over its back with deep fissures. We sit on the top to watch the sun go down, but there is too much cloud for a really impressive sunset.

We make another brief stop in the dusk light at a island that used to have a small zoo, but we find that it is currently being rebuilt. However, a large bird takes it upon itself to be our tour guide, busily herding us towards where the zoo would have been, and chasing off a dog that wanted to join in the fun.

We speed back over the water to the lodge in the dark, somehow avoiding all of the rocks. In the bar after dinner, Patricia briefs us on the Angel Falls excursion that starts the day after tomorrow. She then begins to tell us the Indian story of the anaconda and the rainbow. In ancient times, the anaconda’s children lived in the sea. They were able to come out onto the land and to take on any form they wanted. Some of them became humans, and that was the start of the human race. When the mother anaconda comes to check on her offspring, we see the rainbow in the sky, which is the sign of the anaconda.