The Amazon Trip
Left Cuzco at 6am to fly to Puerto Maldonaldo and then our group of 16 enjoyed a 3.5 hour motorised canoe trip up the Amazon to the Libertador Tambopata Eco Lodge. The scenery along the banks of the river was great with palm trees and banana trees plus lots of other tropical vegetation. We spotted caiman, heron, the largest rodents in the world (can’t remember its name), plus lots more.
The Lodge was great. We all had our own rooms, 2 per bungalow, under a thatched vaulted roof with hot showers (heated by solar panels), and we had mosquito nets over our beds. It was clean and atmospheric. There was no electricity except between 6pm and 7pm when the generator was on so you could charge batteries etc….so the rooms, pathways, social areas were lit by candle light and kerosene lanterns.
The food was really good too. Roasted yams, beef, veggies, salad, soups etc….and evaporated milk to whiten tea or coffee. It brought back memories of the Gilbert Islands to Liz.
That evening we had a slide show on the jungle life and then went on a night walk with our torches.
We were first shown a tarantula spider, living in the staff’s living quarters roof!! Then we went into the jungle and saw crickets, beetles, frogs, stick insects and lots of ants!! The ants kept crawling onto our shoes and so in the end we headed back to safety - the ants bite! (Andy - seems the Ant's only had a taste for the ladies as the men were pretty much unscathed)
We spent the morning from 6am in the rainforest in small groups with the guide showing his in depth knowledge and enabling us to see trees which have their roots mainly above ground as within the rainforest only the top 2 feet of soil have minerals nutrients needed. The feel of being in a rainforest was great and we were constantly taking in what was around you. We saw giant trees where we could fit a group of 5 inside the roots of the tree, 20cm long snails, lizards and tarantulas, where thankfully the guide had coached it out of its den rather than any of the group unexpectedly finding it! We saw rubber trees (where you cut the trunk to get the rubber sap out),
buttress trees (massive!), and walking trees (where there roots are like stilts that die and new ones grow, which make the tree move (very slowly!). There was also the telephone box tree, which if you hit the trunk it sounds like a loud drum - good for communication in the jungle! There was also the very rudely named Shit tree, which smelt of mothballs, and there was the Penis tree too (resembled - apparently!).
We then went out on a boat across Lake Sachavacayoc, one of the local Oxbow lakes (created when the meander of the river gets cut off - they usually disappear within 10 years as they fill up with vegetation, but new ones get created). We saw a few birds (Maccaws, heron, horned screamers and hawks) and also some bats that were hung under a dead tree branch. After throwing some cheese crackers into the lake we saw how quickly the piranhas would devour any food options coming there way, so no swimming today! There were also lots of beautiful butterflies everywhere…
In the afternoon Andy took a trip up the river to a local farm where they grew bananas, papaya, and corn. The lodge
has been working with local farmers to promote effective farming where crops can be grown alongside the rain forest and thus can continue for years, otherwise if rainforest is destroyed the soil will only holds enough nutrients for a couple of seasons crops and then as the rainforest rejuvenation cycle has been killed the area the land is unable to produce further crops or indeed any rainforest.
Staying at the lodge and having a few beers, Liz was fortunate enough to see 3 monkeys that came close to the lodge, lots of humming birds and a big toad.
In the evening we went out on a Caiman (a small type of alligator) hunt in the boat in the dark! The guides showed their skills because at this point the river was as wide as a football pitch is long and with a powerful touch the guide was scanning either side of the river for Caimans (alligators). This resulted in us seeing about 3 different ones and getting very close. Unknown to the 2 ladies sat at the front of the boat the guide on one occasion tried to grab a Caiman and had hold of its tail before
it managed to slip away! It seems that if held correctly it cannot turn and bite you, although I bet the lady sat near the front of the boat was glad the guide was unsuccessful in bring one back on board.
We also floated in the boat for 5 minutes without the engine on and just looked at all the stars and listened to all the jungle noises - beautiful. Liz saw a shooting star!
We had an early start with a 5am wake up before leaving the lodge at 6am, however views along the Amazon were still beautiful and it was the 2 guides, Hugo and Edwin, who were sleeping on the route back, as it seems that they can’t handle their beers on our groups leaving night!
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