We spent a miserable night on the shore,
serving as targets for huge numbers of
mosquitoes intent on eating us alive.
Our native friends had brought a wallaby
along for supper, so they made a fire and
roasted it, eating and chatting away until
midnight. Children cried intermittently
and, just before dawn, their rooster and a
few chickens rounded off a sleepless night.
Tired and groggy, we packed our gear and
left before sunrise.
We faced a steady ascent through the
jungle, for Lake Kamaka lies at 700 meters
(approx. 2300 feet) and Lakamora perhaps
at 900 meters (approx. 2950 feet). This
is a virgin rainforest, so we were forced
to scramble under and over fallen trees
blocking our way. I have traveled through
many jungles, including the Amazon,
but I have seen nothing that compared
to this unique, untouched environment.
Huge trees at least 12 meters ( 40 feet) in
diameter soar into the sky, and all around
are unknown plants, unfamiliar insects,
hornbills, shiny violet-colored lizards, and
vivid green tree snakes. Algae-covered
rocks surrounded impassable waterholes,
and tree trunks were draped in thick moss
within this dense, dimly lit wilderness
perhaps unvisited and unseen by human
beings for thousands of years.
No Europeans had ever before been to this remote area; it had been visited only by the Papuas
for hunting. To protect themselves from the daily rain, on top of a hill the hunters built this hut—a
welcome resting place in the depths of the forest.
For the first few hours, we walked and
climbed boldly upward, so fascinated by
our surroundings that we were unaware
of the demands placed on our bodies. But
before long, Patrick declared he needed
a rest, so we left him behind with two
men—to help if necessary—to follow later.
To climb to 700 meters from sea level
through dense jungle, in the heat and high
humidity, is not exactly easy.
Just before sunset I spied Lake Kamaka
below us, a huge, stunningly beautiful,
crystal-clear stretch of water, surrounded
on all sides by jungle-clad mountains.
And amid the masses of floating water
lilies was our objective: brilliant, colorful
rainbowfishes. I was so excited I jumped
into the lake and started to use a seine
net along the edges. Before long I had
captured a beautiful iridescent-blue
rainbowfish, to be described later as a
Craterocephalus. Patrick soon joined us
from below. This was a truly beautiful
spot, so we pitched our tents for the night
and, as we dined on Italian carpaccio
A new giant goby Mogurnda sp. found in Lake Lakamora.
soup and strong black Earl Grey tea, took
our rest and admired our completely
untouched, uninhabited environment.
I was anxious to set off for Lake
Lakamora the next day. Patrick was
to await our return, so I left him a
man for company and we started off
with the other three. They managed
to find a half-sunken dugout and cut
some long poles to propel it. We were
determined to cross the lake on this
primitive craft and slowly progressed to
a long, limestone outcrop in the water
crowded with cormorants. The lake flora
included different species of Potamogeton
(pondweed) and Nymphaea (water lilies)
along the bank. On the far side, we had
to drag the boat through thick reeds
before reaching the shore and unloading
our gear. Nearby, a waterfall about 50
meters (165 feet) high cascaded into the
extreme western end of the lake. We
could not linger, for Lakamora was still
a day’s fast march away.
About an hour later, we encountered
a jungle stream some 6 to 8 meters ( 20
to 25 feet) across. Our companions soon
felled a tree and laid it across, and we
passed over, balancing precariously on
the trunk. The last to cross the rapidly
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