JBL Expedition 2016 Venezuela

In all our 12 previous JBL expeditions we had never come so close to cancelling the whole thing! The country Venezuela is descending into chaos. One of the stops on our trip, Maturin, is said to be the world’s fourth most dangerous city and then came the Zika virus on top! This caused some late cancellations from participants who had already been confirmed. After consultation with our local organisation we discovered that our itinerary and group size did not pose any dangers for us. We allowed other applicants to take the place of those who had cancelled and by April 26, 2016 we set off with 50 participants via Caracas and Maturin to the Orinoco river delta, South America’s second largest river, which is more than 2,000 km in length. Even though the participants had been travelling for 24 hours the last part of the trip still managed to impress them. At night under an unbelievable starry sky we went by boat through the jungle to the Orinoco Eco Lodge which was built on piles into the marshy banks of a tributary in the delta. The first class hotel had some hammocks and palm roofs with mattresses under mosquito nets but no windows or doors. This was just the thing for our nature made group from a diversity of European countries.

Our plan for the group members was to form 6 small teams which went by boat to different locations to snorkel, observe and collect biotope data on-site. Every three days the teams changed places so that everyone was at every place. Only in the morning and evening the whole bunch met for a meal and for lectures which were given by Dr. Wolfgang Staeck and Andreas Tanke.

The Orinoco Delta

    The Narrow Jungle River

    Most rivers are easily accessible by boat, but this river becomes increasingly narrow and is overgrown by the tropical rainforest like a roof. A whitewater river of the Orinoco with limited visibility.

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    Anaconda Sandbank

    Our guide Antonio told us an exciting story about his struggle with a large anaconda. We visited the place where he had described the fight as taking place.

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    The Water Lily Camp

    Clear water – our native companions didn’t understand what we wanted. We changed our strategy and asked for places where we could find aquatic plants.

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    The Jungle Walk to the Poisonous Snakes

    Around the Orinoco Eco Lodge there were practically no tourists. Just the houses of indigenous people, also built on stilts, were dotted around the river bank. Thanks to our guide who was friends with most of the families we were allowed to visit the natives.

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    Indigenous Villages

    Around the Orinoco Eco Lodge there were practically no tourists. Just the houses of indigenous people, also built on stilts, were dotted around the river bank. Thanks to our guide who was friends with most of the families we were allowed to visit the natives.

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    The surrounding of our Orinoco Eco Lodge

    We used canoes and kayaks to explore the surroundings and the smallest rivers practically in silence. Everyone enjoyed this rather isolated form of exploration and it allowed us to approach animals like monkeys and birds more successfully.

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    The Species-rich Cattle Trough and the Muddy Path

    A native pointed out a puddle at the rear of his dwelling which serves as a cattle trough and warned us about another small pond which we should better be careful not to step in because of electric eels. This immediately caught our interest.

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    Onward Journey to the Table-top Mountains South of Venezuela

    We left the Orinoco Eco Lodge early in the morning in the dark and took the boat and bus to Ciudad Bolivar. In small 6-seater planes we flew about 400 km south towards Canaima.

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    The Canaima Lagoon

    At the foot of three waterfalls lies the lagoon of Canaima. A first glance into the water showed transparent blackwater. At last we could do a bit of intensive snorkelling and carry out some observations under water.

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    Underwater Feedings

    Along with our observations of the fish species there, it was the underwater feeding trials that impressed us the most. The fish jumped greedily to reach the JBL PlanktonPur Sticks and JBL Gala flakes we offered them.

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    Through the Rapids to Isla Orchidea

    We went further upstream the Rio Carrao by boat. A highlight was a tributary which was only one metre deep but had relatively clear water and allowed intensive fish observation.

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    Finally Poison Dart frogs

    On the last day of the expedition we finally spotted some yellow-banded poison dart frogs. The forest floor is, of course, not only brown. Yellow blossoms and colourful fruit lie around to form a multi-coloured potpourri.

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    measured values terraristics

    Mit Hilfe von Datenloggern, UV-Messgeräten, Hygro- und Termometer sowie einem Luxmeter wurden alle Parameter der verschiedenen Lebensräume bestimmt. Überraschend war für viele, dass der Regenwald oft viel trockener war, als erwartet.

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    measured values freshwater

    Wassertests, Leitwertmessgerät, Thermometer und Luxmeter mit wasserdichtem Sensor erlaubten uns detaillierte Biotopanalysen der Gewässer. Wegen der starken Eigenfärbung des Wassers war das Komparatorsystem der JBL Wassertests zwingende Voraussetzung.

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