After a week at base camp it was time to head back out to a satellite camp.  Myself, some staff members and a bunch of school boys started the hike there after lunch, and miraculously made it in about two hours.  When we arrived, a bunch of my friends were waiting at the camp entrance to welcome me in which was a nice surprise.

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On the hike to Guanales 

Guanales camp is so nice! Rather than Cantiles, the entirety of which seems to be at a 45 degree angle, Guanales is nice and flat, and a bit more open. It’s situated right next to a big river, in the middle of a valley, so it’s pretty spectacular views all round.  The ‘facilities’ were pretty similar to Cantiles– tents, trenches, eating/fire area, and cooking area.

The eating area / fire 
The trail down to the tents and hammocks
The river

We had some seriously epic days in Guanales – the first of which was when we combined the Habitat and Invertebrate teams to do transect 2, arguably the hardest in Cusuco. Amazingly, the boys wanted to complete the whole thing, rather than turn back for lunch like most school groups do. Since I’d already spent the first half of the week with this group, they already knew the drill and we had a lot of fun. It rained harder than I’ve ever experienced on the hike back this day. It cleared as suddenly as it had came, so I went to have a shower. Very bad idea as the rain promptly returned, and the river got so wild I almost couldn’t cross it to get back! Unfortunately that night the entire camp flooded, leading to some extremely wet, miserable school kids the next morning.

The light trap at Guanales was a lot of fun, because it was really close to the campfire which meant lots of people usually came to visit me so I didn’t have to sit there for ours on end by myself. We got a lot of rhino beetles, some of the most ridiculously uncoordinated creatures I’ve ever come across. They seemed to have a lot of difficulty making it to the light, often battering me and unsuspecting school kids about the head before they made it.

Rhino beetle

Guanales was also the first time that we were HORRIFIED by what we think was a kind of goat moth. People were literally screaming in reaction to it, and it became a bit of a legend among staff members, passed around via jungle mail, re-enactments and drawings. No one managed to get any photos, so we might never know what the beast was.

At the light trap in Guanales 

On one of my very rare days off, I got to go out with the bird team to see red capped manakins. This was definitely one of the highlights of my trip.  Manakins are known for their extremely unusual mating displays. When there is a female around, males will gather to do a special dance in the hopes of impressing her, the main component of which is a hysterical super speedy moonwalk type manoeuvre. If you’ve not seen this before you can watch this to see what I’m talking about.

Luckily for me, the bird team caught a female manakin in their mist nets, so we released it near where the males had been hanging out and got to see them all dance up close which was incredible. 

Image from here
The female red capped manakin

In week 7, the invert team were crowned with the special ‘Scientist of the Week’ hat, which was primarily for the excellent feedback about me from the all boys school which was really nice. It’s good to know that we are actually making an impression on the students.

Clearly, no expenses were spared on the hat

At the end of week 7 it was back to base camp for some much needed dry tents and clothes!