Has anybody seen the TV series The River ? It’s a supernatural journey down the Amazon, kind of like Jurassic Park meets Paranormal Activity. The main character goes missing deep in the Amazon Jungle then his family, friends and crew all journey out on a deadly mission to find him. That show started my fascination on how mysterious the Amazon was. Too bad, the series was cancelled after its first season, I thought it was pretty good!
Anyway, we had a 45 -minute flight from Cusco to Puerto Maldonado, the lowlands of the Amazon jungle. Unfortunately for me, it was delayed for 3 hours and there was not much to do around Cusco airport. I just killed my time deleting photos to save space on my memory card.
When we arrived at the airport, I thought I was back in the Philippines since it was really hot and humid. It was 2:00 pm and I was sweating like a sinner in church. :P. We were picked up by our tour guides, Inez and Cathy, then we took a 5- minute bus ride to the Amazon Expedition office where we had to repack our bags and leave behind the heavier stuff that we didn’t need.
After we repacked our bags, we rode in a small non-airconditioned bus out into the dusty Inferno road for over an hour. At the bus, Inez was explaining that the Amazon Expedition created a partnership with the local indigenous community. The locals take 60% of profits and have the opportunity to work in the lodge.
We boarded in a small boat through the muddy river and headed another hour down into the Amazon. Since we arrived late in the afternoon, we ate lunch in the boat. The meal was fried rice with vegetables and tofu wrapped in a huge banana leaf. It was surprisingly good! We stopped along the way when the guide would point out some wildlife. We saw some caimans (alligator family) and lots of different birds, an amazing welcome to the Amazon. We hiked another 15 minutes to reach the lodge.
At the lodge, we were greeted with cold towels and freshly- squeezed juice. There was no electricity in the lodge, except for the generator- powered main lobby. Our rooms only had 3 walls- one wall looked out into the wild amazon jungle. There were no room keys as there were no doors, just curtains. Well, people didn’t travel this far into the wild to commit crimes. 🙂 The mosquito net on my bed reminded me of my simple life growing up in the province. The open halls were lit by kerosene lamps and the lighting in the room was provided by candles. I think I became very good at showering by candlelight. Hahaha!
After we dropped off our bags, we visited the canopy tower first since it was getting darker. Climbing the 37- meter scaffolding tower was challenging but the panoramic views of the river and surrounding jungle were rewarding. I was lucky enough to be up there at sunset. It was stunning to see the horizon changing and birds flying home to roost. After dinner we went on the river to look for some caimans. I did not bother to bring my camera because it was useless. It was amazing how Inez could find these reptiles since I had trouble seeing them from 5 feet away with a torch pointed straight at them. Also, we did night walks and managed to see some unusual insects and at one point we turned off our flashlights and walked into the darkness. It was cool hanging around in the dark listening to the sounds of the jungle. We were like children lost in the woods. 🙂
Going to sleep at night listening to the sounds of the jungle was quite relaxing but I was hoping not to wake up with wild gorilla by my side :P. The next day, we went piranha fishing in a huge lake. There was something about an early morning boat ride that just enlivens the spirit. The lake looked mysterious. We saw a family of giant river otters and also saw different kind of birds. Too bad I didn’t have a telephoto lens to capture them.
It was really hot on that day and and I was all sweaty and dusty. I don’t think I had ever been more excited to take a cold shower in my life. I think I took a bath 4 times that morning. Haha! Inez took us on a walk through the canopy again. We saw some exotic birds and wild chickens but unfortunately we did not see the elusive jaguar (which is rarely seen ) but we saw some jaguar poop and she pointed out the hidden cameras they were using just to monitor them. How cool!
I loved this part of our trip plus I slept well while we were there.Talk about close encounter with nature! Wish we could have stayed here longer to see more wildlife.