By Meret Schueschke
Last week I got the chance to do something I had wanted to do for quite a while: To go kayaking in the rainforest with EcoCircuitos. It was going to be my first real rainforest experience, and I was really looking forward to it, but the real experience exceeded my expectations by far.
After less than an hour we arrived at Gamboa, where we were supposed to start off our kayaking excursion. While our guide and driver got the equipment ready we strolled around, had peeks into the butterfly house and aquarium they have there, and already spotted the first birds.
And then, we started out onto the lake. The cries of howler monkeys greeted us, accompanied by the distant sound of drumming that came from the Embera Village further down the shore. Along with wisps of mist hanging between the trees and the soft dripping of water from the paddles, this sound created a truly unreal experience. One of our little group described it very accurately when he said: “I could almost imagine KingKong coming out of this forest right now”
The next hours were an almost meditative experience. We spotted uncountable amounts of birds: since the kayaks make almost no sound passing through the water, you can get really close to animals as long as you don’t talk too much.
Before too long, the thatched roofs of the Embera village appeared between the trees, and by a stroke of luck we got to witness a short musical performance of the men of the tribe, as they were just receiving a group of visitors when we passed by.
I was already feeling like I had completely left the normal world behind, and then, weirdly enough, it got perfect when it started to rain. It had been a hot day so far, and the soft summer rain was so refreshing, and it changed the atmosphere into something almost magical. There was steam rising from the trees around us, the birds and monkeys seemed to wake up, like us being revived by that burst of fresh air the rain brought, and suddenly it was just us, the water, and the rainforest around us, and the real world so far away…
At some point we spied the howler monkeys, high up in a tree, another time we passed a large iguana. Eagles, herons, kingfishers and many more crossed our paths. Fish passed silently beneath us. We were silent, mostly, enjoying the tranquility of this spot we had all to ourselves, each taking in this different world for himself.
The three hours passed far too quickly, and all too soon we had to head back to the shore, and then to the city with all its activity…but the feeling of tranquility I had experienced there on the lake stayed with me for several days, and I am sure I will not forget this special feeling of being out on in this primeval forest so far from everyday life, and yet so close to home.
if you would like to know more about this or other rainforest tours, have a look at our website