When I heard about this island 20 miles from the Coast and this the existence of a Pink Boa roaming the Cayes I didn´t think it twice. I had to go there, I had to see it for myself.
I am in a good streak, last week I saw a small crocodile, a lot of birds and some monkeys. Let´s do this, I have to find one. I will succeed.
When I googled Boa constrictor Imperator I stumbled upon this image and I felt very excited as well as challenged. It can grow up to 4 meters (12 feet) so it cannot kill me but I can still end up very hurt. It is almost extint and it is believed that it evolved from the one on mainland and adjusted itself to the weather and living condition in Hogs Cayes, this group of islands in Northern Honduras.
It was going to be a difficult task because you just don´t see Boas walking around the jungle, waiting for humans to pet them. They hide and if they listen to you they will either run or get defensive. They won´t attack unless provoked and these fellas especially roam the trees, so this was going to be a major challenge.
Assessing the hunt
Enough of technical features, let´s get to the hunt.
I went to Hogs Caye on a weekend, three nights to be precise and this hunt took place on the second day. There are 15 Cayes forming this archipielago but you can only find Pink Boas in the Minor Caye and Major Caye - The two biggest islands, creative huh? - so I hitchhiked my way to the island and slept in one the minor cayes for the first and second nights. I had to gather all the information I could from the locals regarding my future pray, I didn´t want to go misinformed or to actually die there.
I got adviced not to go alone - but you know me - mainly because I would definitely get lost in the island. Most people I met thought I wouldn´t even be able to find a Boa since they are so scarce and also sneaky - get it? Cause they are snakes hehe - ok enough.
I left in the morning to the island. I had to pay a local guy to give me a lift in his almost-sinking-canoe but I got there without any considerable issues.
He dropped me off in the small village - of course there is a small village! It is not a completely desserted island! - and I felt in a Jurassic Park like scenario. There were some little kids mocking this city dude, even though I´m the least city dude you´ll meet, but for them I was that. I guess they have some people coming over thinking they´ll conquer the island every once in a while, only to return sad or injured from the wild part of the Caye.
Anyway, they are kids, you have use them. They will tell you everything about the subject you want to know. Unlike grown people, who only like to correct you, in which case you have to have an opinion as wrong as you can in order for them to jump in and correct you, with kids is different. The strategy is to act as naive as possible and in need of help, if you can handle the mockery they will tell you every secret.
So I found out about a few spots where the Boa density is higher and how to reach those places.
Preparing the hunt
The fifteen cayes in total cover no more than 2 square miles, so even though the Caye I went to is the biggest, it not that big. There were three different spots where it is easier for me to find a Boa in its natural habitat. The first one was too deep into the jungle, in the very heart of the Island and it was the least visited the road therefore the wildest, but this trip was to see Pink Boas not to test my wild side. The second one was too easy and some people went there on a daily basis - there are 108 people living in the island - and there hasn´t been any Boa sightings there in ages so I decided to go through the third option:
Ok Eric, first you have to walk the east shore all the way until you can´t keep walking. And then you have to enter the jungle and find a rock path. Follow it and after that go down, follow the trail and you will reach the no road. There you have to walk straight and you will start to walk up again, you will see the ocean on the side but be careful because if you fall you will die. Keep going and when you find some old trees and a fresh scent you start looking for boas on the trees.
Did you actually understood anything I said? Well, me neither, but those were the instructions they gave me and I did my best effort to remember it in case I got lost and to have a bit of hope I could find my prey.
I tied my shoes, strapped my daypack, took my machete and my cameras and went on my way. Yes yes, I am also an animal lover and I would hate to kill an animal but if the time comes when I have to chose, I will kill an animal instead of letting it kill me, hence the machete. Sorry, not sorry about that.
Starting the hunt
When it comes to hiking I prefer to do it alone. Most people get bored very fast and start to complain or try to make small talk, even worse, they begin to walk heavily or breath loudly. The key to a good hunt is patience, stealth and stealthy patience with a bit good observation, but mostly, stealth, and patience. Clear? That is why I prefer to do it alone, most people won´t spend 5 hours just to get a few seconds or maybe a minute with an animal.
So I walked all the shore until I couldn´t keep doing it. At least that one made sense when I stumbled upon it.
So I decided to find the rock path. To my surprise, I did. It wasn´t a rock path, it was like a rock challenge for hardcore dinosaurs but I guess it was that way or going back to mama.
Went up the rock path and got some urge to pee. If you go to the jungle you have to have an open mind about that mate, otherwise you are gonna have a big problem. I found the way down and I took it.
I could still see some kind of road even if it was almost gone and that gave me some reassurance. I was already an hour and a half into the search so, nothing wrong with trying to feel a bit safe inside the jungle right?
I kept my mind on the road and searching for Boas everywhere. Every branch of every tree on my line of sight and I saw one. I finally saw one. It was very high in the trees and I could just see its silhouette. But I was disappointed, it wasn´t big and it wasn´t pink, not even a dark kind of pink, it was just a normal Boa. It took a picture but not even then you could see it clearly. Here she is:
Right in the middle of the photo, a knot in the main branch, if you see it good, if you don´t well, you are not missing any big thing.
Damn, I really want to find one, I have to keep going to that place the kids told me about. I kept going without feeling to go back. That is crucial, if you get discouraged you start being sloppy, you make mistakes and the moment you know it, you have a Boa in front of you trying to constrict you. So I kept going and reached the beach part I got informed about.
There was something that looked like a little road if you try hard, or maybe it was me trying to think I was not lost and I was safe.
Ok ok, the part where you have to be careful or fall to your death is there. I am still on the right track.
Finally I was there, or at least I thought I was. The vibe felt very xhilly and the trees were kind of dead, well not dead but without the green allure I found everywhere else.
I was already four hours into the hike and was feeling tired and thirsty. I started to walk slowly, patiently around the place. Searching on every branch and every tree, behind every rock and under every log. I found a tree full of crabs and a small frog, check it out.
But I was there to see a Pink Boa, the species that only exists here in Honduras, the reptile that you can only find in Hogs Cayes. A small frog and some crabs weren´t going to be enough to make me feel achieved. And then I saw a fat tree branch crawling in the distance, about ten meters from me, right on the ground.
This could be it, this could be the one. You have to walk slowly Eric, you don´t want it to get spooked and get away or even worst, you don´t want it to attack you.
It looked big, not as big as an Anaconda or even a grown Boa Constrictor but I could tell it was at least 1.5 meters (5 feet) and it was going for a tree, it was starting to climb it, I had to be fast, but not that fast to lose my chance or endanger myself.
Ahh yess! I couldn´t believe myself, I was standing right in front of a Boa and I was taking a video! This is awesome! It was worth every step I took!
I also took some pictures.
It wasn´t that big, maybe a good meter and a half (5 feet), my estimation was precise. It wasn´t that thick also, maybe like a grown man closed fist at its thickest part, the head was the size of a tennis ball or so.
It started to move towards me. In the heat of the moment I wasn´t paying attention to how close I was and how threatened could this animal feel having me around.
Wait, I have seen this before, this is the position they take right before striking. I read about this a few days ago, if the Boa feels he is not a match for you but feels threatened, it will strike trying to bite you to scare you away. Ok, time to get the hell out of here.
It was time to go back so I started to undo my steps with my spirit above the sky and an experience I will never forget.