This was just so cool – I camped out in the wilderness near Santa Cruz, Bolivia, where I got to learn about this amazing plant. It grows around a healthy tree, working its way up the trunk and developing this intricate lattice pattern as the branches coil their way around, until it eventually kills the original tree. The dead tree then rots and decomposes away – very quickly since there are a lot of bugs around here – and leaves just the parasitic shell, which is strong enough to stand on its own.
It was about a metre wide inside, and the branches were perfectly placed for easy peasy climbing. I reckon I made it to about 10m up before taking this picture – I started to hear rustling near my head and freaked out a bit at the very real prospect of startling a little colony of bats as they napped.