PERU
2003


"Amazon Snake Mystery"

Panna Cocha, Loreto

Map of the expedition area around Laguna Anatico and Rio Huasaga.
click on map to enlarge and also see true extent of wetlands.

Panna Cocha means Piranha Lake. This was the location where the truly giant anaconda had been reported.

We visited a local hunter called Ricardo Cisneros who claimed to have seen the snake in the shallows of the lagoon and who provided us with estimates of its size. We also learned how to use a blowpipe but today like many Amazonian hunters Ricardo relies more on firearms.

 

Lutz and I learn to use a blowpipe from the expert, Ricardo.

 

Panna Cocha was a very dark, very still and rather eerie location. There was absolutely no signs of wildlife, no bird song, no monkey chatter, but whether this was due to the anaconda or Ricardo's rifle is open to conjecture.

Panna Cocha is a dark, forbidding and very silent lake.

 

At the edge of lagoon we set up a second trap, baited with a chicken, in the hopes of luring an anaconda out of the shallows, but this too failed to capture anything.

 

The shallows were the giant anaconda is said to lurk. The anaconda trap set, door open.
The trap faced down the bank towards the shallows. Testing the trap door mechanism.

We ventured out onto the lake where Don Lorenzo tried to call the anaconda with a ritual of chanting and blowing smoke across the water but this method did not work either, although the shaman claimed to feel the presence of another, larger, anaconda some distance away,

Finally, I snorkelled along the bottom of the lagoon but the water was so dark I could not tell which way was up and would not have seen a big snake even if I had swam into it. My progress was being followed above using a sonar device rather like a fish finder, but in this lake it did not find any fish, let alone an anaconda.

Snorkelling in the blackness of Panna Cocha.