On a steaming hot day in the middle jungle, our enthusiastic Eco-tourism group ventured three hours up the winding Las Piedras River to Lake Soledad. Our mission: to see and document the famous six foot river otters in their natural habitat. When we arrived at the Amazon River Conservation Center (ARCC) we were overwhelmed by the lavish accommodations and overwhelming natural beauty of this luxury tourist destination.
After a brief lunch of chicken fried rice, we boarded a rickety catamaran and paddled out onto the lake. We were greeted by different species of birds and turtles, who curiously watched our make-shift boat float by.
Surrounded by this exotic habitat, we occupied ourselves in the tranquil waters of the lake by taking a multitude of photographs and videos. Sweat trickled down our neck which was quite uncomfortable; we put our feet into the refreshing water to cool down.
As we approached the end of the lake, we heard the distant growling and splashing of frolicking otters playing together in the late afternoon sun. Excited, we fidgeted in our seats, as our small boat approached the creatures. We held our breath as the otters dove in and out of the water, unperturbed by our presence they continued to play and consume various types of fish while swimming on their backs.
Suddenly, the alpha otter popped his head out of the water and started to snarl ferociously at our boat, alerting his raft to retreat into the safety of the leafy marsh. This was the pinnacle moment for our photographers on board our boat. In order for the otters to retreat they had to swim towards our vessel and slip behind the lush foliage. The otters cautiously followed each other one by one, as our photographers snapped many photographs.
As the otters hopped onto the bank, and disappeared from sight, we saw the tremendous storm clouds heading in our direction. It was a mad scramble to protect the cameras and bird manuals from the impending rain. With no other option, we feverishly rowed at full speed back to shore, fortunately we did manage to capture this moment on the Go-Pro.
When we composed ourselves back on the dry land, we emptied our water-logged wellies and smiled in relief and laughed at our experience that will remain a fond memory for a lifetime.