As much as we’d have loved to (maybe not Dan as he wasn’t loving the bugs so much), we didn’t spend 7 days in the Amazon. We spend a good four days in Cuzco after Machu Picchu doing not a whole lot. We were tired, I was sore, and we just enjoyed being in-between destinations for a little while. So realistically this post starts on day 116.
While we were in Huacachina, we met a lovely couple from London – the kind of couple who have their shit together. They were on the brink of mixing things up in their life though, as they had the travel bug and wanted to take advantage of being in-between careers/studying. They were doing our Peru trip, but in reverse, so a lot of what we had coming, they’d done etc etc. One thing they did that instantly seemed amazing was a trip to the Amazon. It’s the kind of thing I didn’t think would be available to us as we assumed it would be insanely expensive and would need an excess of shots that we didn’t have done. Both proved to be untrue, so after booking their exact trip with their exact itinerary, we were off to explore the jungle!
We took an overnight bus from Cuzco to Puerto Maldonado, using the company Excluciva. I would recommend this company as, for 70 soles, we had a pretty decent ride and it was very spacious. Once we arrived at Puerto Maldonado, we had the old heebie jeebies again. The place is a bit creepy and is apparently growing in crime. Our bus arrived early, so when our driver finally caught up to us, she seemed glad that she had found us in one piece and warned us about wandering around the town. It was the middle of the day.
In order to get to our hotel, we needed to go by boat. So our first view of the Amazon was this:
It only got better. We went with a company called Inkaterra for our trip, which was 3 nights and 2 days. For $425pp, we had all our food, excursions and accommodation (obviously) included. They are an awesome company that try really hard to work for not only their customers, but their workers and the environment as well. We didn’t research the best prices ourselves as we booked a carbon copy of our friends, but they went for a mid-range option for that time range.
On our first day, we were introduced to our rooms and given a tour of the grounds, which were right in the middle of the jungle! I mean it when I say that. We had to step over a colony of ants to get to our cabana. Our cabana was beyond stunning – easily the nicest accommodation we’ve had since leaving Wales, if ever!
These days, we’re just happy to have a functioning toilet and be surrounded by people that are fine with us not getting high, so this made us feel like kings. From our room alone, I saw a capybara – the biggest rodent in the Amazon (and the world?!). I was half asleep before I clocked what I saw, so I’ll just Google a photo for you.
He’s the one on the left.
After we picked our jaws up off the floor and left our cabana, we met the rest of our group and went about our tour of the grounds. Our tour guide was a cheeky man named –fuck I forgot- let’s call him Juan. Juan smiled a lot, believe it or not, but for some reason my camera always snapped him looking miserable.
Juan started off gentle, by showing us the plant life and cocoa plants. Apparently some of the smaller ones are not so bitter and are actually quite sweet.
It wasn’t long before some wildlife appeared join the party. I cannot remember the names of these monkeys, but I know that we saw three out of the five types of monkey living in that part of the Amazon.
And then we stopped by a boat. It didn’t make a lot of sense for a boat to be in the middle of the rainforest, but it was of big importance here once upon a time. In the 1960’s, a doctor used to take this boat to reach the farmers that couldn’t get to hospital. It became stranded here when the water levels became too low for it to move through.
Remember when I was fascinated by the woods in California? The trees here had LEGS – eventually they rooted themselves down, but in their early years, they would move to find a good amount of sunlight.
Others would wrap themselves around other trees and suffocate them, and other would just spread seeds in the hope of some finding enough sunlight. At any given time, the floors would only see 2% of the sunlight from up top, so it is a constant struggle.
After our tour of the grounds, we got to stop for dinner and I did my classic thing of enjoying the food too much to take pictures. It really was beautiful though. After dinner, we went out on another excursion, but this time it was out on the boat and the goal was to see a Caiman. Our eyes saw one, but our camera had no chance. You’ll just have to take my word for it that the Amazon river at night is even more enchanting than the day time.
Day 2 started at 5am. Peru loves their early starts I’ve gathered, and so does the wildlife. We made our way down to breakfast and ate what we could for 5.30 in the morning, before tumbling onto the boat that would take us through one of the streams that had diverted away from the main river (if ever you want to know, that’s called a bifurcation). I’ll let the photos do the talking here, but the jest of it is that we saw several types of birds, plants and creepy crawlies. Our guide had a habit of saying things like “Be careful around XYZ, their sting is very very painful”, before picking said thing up like it was a kitten. The scariest creature he did this with was called a “Bullet Ant”. Yeah… crazy guy!
I think we were on that boat for nearly 3 hours, but the time passed so quickly. It was an immense pleasure and privilege to see all of these animals going about their morning, without caring for us in our big boat, sailing by. We were in their world, not vice versa!
The evening gave us the opportunity to see animals from the tops of the trees. Ironically we only saw more ants from this angle, but the scenery was still beautiful. Two of our members were jittery with heights, so it was pretty impressive to see them tackling the bridges, which were scary for most average Joe’s!
That evening, we spent most of our time getting to know each other as a group. Usually, we’re used to being the longest travellers by a good amount, but we were out-travelled by a woman in her early 30’s. She’d only been home to visit in the past two and a half years and had no intention of slowing down. She came with her friend who, after three pisco sours, dominated the conversation from then on. At one point in the night, he built a wall of pillows between us and the Mexicans in our group – in good humour!
With a lot of sore heads and shuffling feet, we all made it to breakfast. It was the day of our departure, so as a good gesture from Inkaterra, we were taken to a butterfly house before being dropped off in the centre of Puerto Maldonado.
I remember being 13 and finding my Dads meditation tapes. They consisted of a very monotone man talking about being in the rainforest and seeing white lights there and stuff. The point of me telling you this is never in a million years did I think I would get to spend two nights listening to those sounds for real! It’s experiences like this that are slowly making our world smaller and smaller. I just want to leave you with one more photo – my favourite plant here!