Another early start this morning because we did decide to go ahead and book the tour with Tapas. As we ate our breakfast the hotel manager gave us a note from Tapas to explain that he had a stomach upset from yesterday and he was sending another guide to take his place
He had a sick note! I must have iron guts after what I'd done to my poor long suffering digestive system yesterday.
Anyway, the new guide was lovely, and we headed off towards the Lowacherra National Park, a tropical semi-evergreen rainforest approximately 8km from Srimangal town. As our noisy little CNG powered along the main road towards the park, our guide was chatting to us, when he suddenly asked the driver to stop. We climbed out and he drove off, as soon as he did so we became aware of a commotion of animal noise in the canopy above our heads. Above the CNG and while talking to us, he'd heard the cries of the hoolock gibbon, an endangered species that we'd read we'd have no chance of spotting. The sounds were coming from our left, we peered up at the tree tops and Mike saw it. Sadly no, it wasn't our gibbon but the un-endangered Macaque monkey. Never mind! It's such a treat to see a creature in their natural habitat. There were still animal calls coming from the right hand side. Another group perhaps? Suddenly our boy left the road and strode into the jungle. He looked back briefly at Mike and me, his facial expression questioning if we were ok with what he was doing. We were, except he suddenly sped up, now we were crashing through the thick undergrowth, no path, then up a very steep incline, already overheating, I realised the futility of wearing clean clothes and showering before we left, and how ridiculous was I with a handbag? I was a bit stuck on the muddy hill but managed to keep scrabbling upwards. I could just make out Mike through the foliage to my right. Our chase continued for a couple more minutes when we heard another sound. Humans! Noisy ones. Inwardly cursing I was convinced their selfish noisiness would scare our gibbons away. We stopped and scrutinised the overhead canopy, then our guide spotted one. I peered and peered, straining my neck, but couldn't make it out. Then I did see him, we were told it was a him because they are black, a female is bigger and a lighter brown colour. We kept craning our necks and straining our eyes when finally we saw the female and she was carrying her baby. What a treat, and we'd only just arrived.
We stayed taking photos for another ten minutes or so, and became aware of our itchy skin. We were warned not to scratch but just to have a hot shower when we got back and to thoroughly wash our clothes. Apparently the itching was caused by ticks that we had picked up during our high speed chase. We then set off back towards the road and every few steps seemed to provide another evil looking spider. I had to be reassured several times that they really aren't poisonous, nor biting. But having just run through several webs I wasn't sure. And then the biggie, the giant wood spider (I think that's what it's called.) Giant????? Cripes, this was a monster and had a web that spiderman could have lived in.