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Amazon night hikers meet fascinating and terrifying creatures

The Amazon rainforest is a mysterious and fascinating place in the day time. Its creatures are all part of a delicate balance where they can be predator one minute and prey the next. The jungle is alive with life and there are creatures in almost every square inch of it. With an abundance of plants, humidity, sunlight, warmth, and food, the Amazon rainforest is home to the greatest abundance and most diverse life on the planet. Stretching through Brazil, Colombia, Peru and Ecuador, it is the largest rainforest in the world. But as fascinating as it is by day, it is even more fascinating by night. It is also a terrifying place to explore, with many strange and scary creatures appearing in the darkness, after remaining hidden during the heat of the day. Canadian tourists journeyed by plane, boat, canoe, and then on foot to reach the remote Sacha Lodge off the Napo River in Ecuador. Local guides treated them to a late night tour of the rainforest to see the creatures of the dark up close. Being careful to follow the path, and listen to the instructions of the guides, they were completely safe. But they were also warned that most creatures, even the smallest had defenses that could be a risk to humans, if they were not treated with caution. Guests at the lodge were shown giant spiders and tarantulas, snakes, katydids, walking stick bugs, millipedes and venomous centipedes. They were shown leafcutter ants on a nightly forage for the leaves that they cut and then carried to their underground farms where they would be used to grow a fungus that the ants thrived on. They were shown bullet ants, which looked like giant versions of the ants we are accustomed to. These bullet ants have a venom which gives them one of the most painful stings in the animal kingdom. We can see one carrying a large inchworm effortlessly on its way back to the colony. Tarantulas, which hide by day, are on almost every banana tree at night. Large and hairy, they blend in perfectly with the brown leaves and trunks on which they lie in wait. Also packing a powerful venom in their bite, they can be dangerous to humans if they feel threatened. Guests were strongly advised to wear high rubber boots, protective clothing and head gear, and they were also warned not to touch anything they saw. As frightening as the jungle can be, it is also thrilling and beautiful. Even the sounds of the jungle are beautiful and intimidating. Tree frogs call to each other, loud enough to be heard almost a mile away. The sounds and sights remind us that we are guests in a domain where we do not truly belong.

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