Published: June 27th 2006June 12th 2006
Under house arrest!
Wowee the somewhat evil pet macaw terrorises us in our room at the lodge...
As Rod saw it, we were practically obliged to go to the Jungle on the basis that “we’re never going to get to go to the Amazon basin again”. That was true, but I wasn’t convinced that it was a good enough reason to put myself at the mercy of tarantulas, anacondas, snakes, piranhas and…..well, you get the idea. Eventually, though, we agreed to a 3 day trip to a Jungle Lodge in the Tambopata Reserve. Day 1.
After a half hour flight from Cusco to Puerto Maldonaldo we met our group while we waited for our Guide. Jenny, Shane and Kev were all from Melbourne, Australia and on various South American itineraries and they’d met Hannah (from Worcester) on the Inca Trail…another good group! Our guide was Sonia, a 23 year old training to be a fully-fledged guide. We set out on an hour long bus journey in the jungle humidity (and rain), followed by another hour or so by boat down the Tambopata River boat, during which the staff pointed out a caiman (a kind of small alligator) and a capybara (like a huge guinea pig) on the shores of the river.
The Lodge itself was very
Willie the grumpy (slightly less evil) pet macaw.
comfortable. Our bedrooms had private bathrooms , mosquito nets over the beds (the b*ggers had already started to nibble!) and mesh over the windows to stop the beasties getting in. Although that didn’t stop one of the Lodge’s 2 grumpy pet macaws holding us under ’house arrest’ in our rooms by attacking Kev’s toes and generally terrorising us!
After a few hours to settle in, Sonia led us out on our first ‘night walk’; not a great prospect if you’re scared of pretty much everything! Still, it was reassuring to know that the whole group was rather nervous, and no one seemed comfortable being at the back of the line. We saw some birds, spiders (small ones, fortunately) and a tiny frog on the walk…but more mosquitoes than anything else!
On return to the Lodge, Sonia asked who wanted to see a tarantula and, despite being freaked out, we couldn’t not look. She took us to one of the Lodge outbuildings and shone the torch up at the nest in the roof where there was a tarantula. Very creepy, even though it was a relatively small one! After a few moments and lots of photographs we made a
sharp exit. Day 2.
The rain was beating down when we got the 5am knock at the door and it continued for most of the morning…and they call this the ‘dry season‘! We walked for a few hours to an oxbow lake where giant otters can be seen. We spotted one, but we got more preoccupied with feeding crackers to the piranhas! Obviously, you’re not supposed to do that and I can’t imagine it’s great for the delicate balance of the ecosystem! Once we realised that we would be taking a short canoe trip across the Lake we started to regret feeding the piranhas. From the water we saw still more exotic birds and a group Red Howler monkeys high in the trees, but the highlight of the whole trip came on the walk back from the lake…Sonia managed to tempt some Saddleback Tamarin monkeys (AKA v small, cute monkeys) towards us with brazil nuts, and then Rod remembered that he had a banana in his pocket (no pun intended) and uttered the immortal words: “Do monkeys like bananas?”. On cue, the monkeys went mad for the banana and we got some great video of Rod feeding them.
So much for being the "dry" season!
We don our wellies ready for the walk on day two.
That evening we piled back on to the Lodge boat to do some ‘caiman spotting’ in the dark, which was made a little too exciting by the fact that the boat was tipping about! The caiman were very impressive, although Kev failed in his promise to wrestle one to the death.
On the morning of Day 3
, we went to a clay lick were macaws, parrots and other birds congregate, before the others headed back to Puerto Maldonado. Rod and I managed to notch up a few more sightings including an anteater, a tree snake, and one very long freshly shed snakeskin….fortunately we didn’t see the snake responsible, but I ended the final night walk with a touch of nerves!
We spent a couple more nights in Cusco, taking it easy so Rod could get over a touch of jungle fever (we reckon it was the malaria tablets), before returning to Lima and completing our trip around Peru. Epilogue
We arrived back in the Motherland on Monday 12 June for a brief ‘holiday from the holiday’. During that time, Mike and Vicky got hitched (well, Vicky got hitched, i.e. became a Hitchmuff) and a great day
This is when we started to regret feeding the piranhas in the lake!
was had by all. We also had a birthday night out in Manchester for Rod and Trusha... special mention goes to Graham and Nathalie who made the effort to come out and join us, only to realise (eventually) that they were a day late!!!
We resumed the World Tour on 25 June, back in sunny Seattle (really - it's scorchio here!) returning to Vancouver for the summer edition tomorrow. Full blog update to follow in due course.
There are more photos below