Leeanne Alonso – The RAP scientific team of 16 scientists, accompanied by a journalist and photographer from National Geographic Magazine, two game wardens from Nature Conservation Division, and a medic flew from Paramaribo to Palumeu on March 8. They brought along with them about 2000 kilos in food and scientific equipment! The RAP team and gear were transported from Palumeu to the RAP Camp 1 by helicopter over the following three days. Each flight to base camp took approximately one hour round trip. On one trip, the helicopter had mechanical difficulties while at the base camp and was almost stuck there overnight. A problem with the rotor motor was found and a replacement helicopter was sent in.
From this base camp, the RAP team sampled in the lowland forest nearby (RAP Site 1) and also flew by helicopter to a mountain top in the Grensgebergte Mountains (RAP Site 2) with an open rocky outcrop and a flat area upon which the helicopter was able to land. The RAP team visited this mountain top in small numbers (2-6 people per day) with some people staying overnight or a few nights on the mountain. Fortunately, the weather was clear enough for helicopter flying and landing on the mountain most days. Only on March 17 was the weather too cloudy for the helicopter to land in the morning, but it was able to pick up stranded RAP team members in the late afternoon. There must have been a lot of rain in the upper reaches of the Palumeu River that day (and the previous day) for the river started to rise and by 6 pm on March 17 had flooded most of the base camp. The trail that once connected the base camp with the helipad was now completely underwater and had to be traversed by boat. This area was known to flood by the local Amerindians, but the RAP team was hoping that it would not flood during the week that the team spent there! However, it did and the water continued to rise during the night.