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.