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Published: October 19th 2008
Seen on our evening insect walk...isn't he fascinating looking?
Thursday we flew from Cusco airport to Puerto Maldonado for our three-day trip to the Amazon rainforest. The first thing that hit me when we got off the plane was the HEAT!!! Wow, what a change from the rain in Machu Picchu! A bus was waiting for us and took us to the Sandoval Lake Lodge office so we could drop off our big luggage and pack a smaller bag for the boat/hike/boat trip to the lodge. The bus then dropped us off for a 25-minute boat ride along the Madre de Dios River where we were served lunch along the way. Lunch was fried rice with vegetables served wrapped inside a banana leaf, and although it was a bit hard to eat while speeding along the river, I think it was the best meal I've had so far in Peru.
We docked and then had to hike for about two miles through the jungle. They made us change into rain boots that were about a half-size too big, making the two-mile hike feel more like five miles. By the time we reached the other side I had blisters and swore that this would be the last time those boots
Fried rice and vegetables, served on the boat ride along the Madre de Dios River
ever saw my feet. It wasn't even that muddy along the path....sigh. We were all pretty tired and sweaty by the time we boarded the catamaran that would take us the final stretch to the lodge, so it was quite a relief to just sit and let someone else do all the rowing to get us there.
We had some free time between checking in and our first excursion so we went to the room to unpack and settle in. To my horror, the bottle of hairspray I had packed had completely emptied inside my backpack, soaking almost everything inside. I suppose that's what I get for thinking I could "fix myself up" in the jungle. Ha! Luckily I had packed some Tide packs so I did some sink laundry and hung everything along the walls to dry (Note: NOTHING dries in the jungle...don't even bother!). We also quickly found out that the power is on a time schedule here. We only had electricity from 5-6am, 12-4pm, and 7-10pm each day. When it shut off at 4pm the first day, we decided to take a nature walk around the grounds since it was too hot to sit in the
Almost arriving at our lodge!
room (and too dark) anyway. We checked out the area and birdwatched until our first excursion at 6:30, the insect walk.
Now, I'm not one who is crazy about insects. In fact, given the choice, I'm pretty sure I'd rather do almost anything than go out of my way to look for them, but I have to admit, the walk was pretty interesting. We encountered tarantulas, beetles, giant locusts, owl butterlies, more ants than I can count, and a slew of other creepy crawlies along the path. And all by the light of flashlights. Fortunately my bug guard was doing it's duty and nothing jumped or crawled on me. Yikes!
After the walk we went back to the lodge for dinner and had a lovely vegetarian feast of carrot soup and some sort of soy/potato/onion concoction that was quite good. After that it was lights out (literally!) for the night under our mosquito nets, listening to the sounds of bugs chirping and neighbors snoring (sigh).
Day 2 started at 5:30am with a catamaran ride on the lake. We saw a family of giant otters catching and eating their morning meal, a hungry caiman trying (and failing...whew!) to
Sandoval Lake Lodge
Our room was the second from the end
catch one of the smaller otters, a ton of birds (including the native Hoatzin, more lovingly referred to as the "Stinky Bird"). After our excursion we returned to the lodge for breakfast and a break before the next excursion.
At 10am we watched a Brazil nut demonstration (how to open them) and went on a nature walk along the same path we took the night before, this time without the flashlights and without many of the creepier looking bugs along the path. After our walk we returned to the lodge for lunch and then had another break. I took a much-needed nap and my second shower for the day. It is SO HOT here!!! I don't think I've stopped sweating since the plane landed.
At 4:30pm we went on our third excursion for the day, another catamaran ride on the lake. This time we saw monkeys (!!), Brown Capuchin monkeys swinging and jumping between the trees along the shore. They are incredibly hard to get pictures of, but I did my best. We also saw a family of bats sleeping on a tree. They were so tiny and cute! We watched the sun set on the lake and
then headed back to the lodge, noticing several sets of red eyes (the Black Caiman) on our way back.
Dinner was another vegetarian meal of mushroom soup and an omelette with vegetables. The food is SO good here! I'm not sure what I expected but certainly not as good as we've gotten. The only downside is that the drinks are never cold enough in this heat. I miss ice!!!! After dinner it was lights out again. The snorer next door must have checked out the day before because the only sounds I heard all night were the bugs chirping outside, which strangely enough is a perfect lullaby to sleep.
Day 3 we got to "sleep in" until 5:30 because we were leaving and didn't have time for any morning excursions. We had breakfast at 6:30am and then set out on the catamaran at 7am. It was a reverse of our original journey, although this time we made the hike without the awful boots and it made a HUGE difference. The bus was waiting for us after our second boat ride and took us back to the lodge office to repack our suitcases before taking us to the airport.
I've never seen one...so strange and interesting!
I really wish we could have seen more of Puerto Maldonado than just from the bus window. It seems like an interesting town, full of locals zooming around on motorbikes and covered scooters.
Our plane left Puerto Maldonado at 11:35am and after a brief stopover in Cusco, we arrived back in Lima at about 2:30pm. Martin from Condor Travel picked us up and took us back to our hotel, the Sol del Oro, where we re-checked in (to a new room) and then headed out for dinner. We ate at a place called Las Tejas on Diez Canseco Ave. (off Ave. Larco). I had a vegetarian plate that was FILLED with more food than I could eat...all yummy! We then wandered around Parque Kennedy and then headed back to the hotel for the night.
Tomorrow we have to get up very early (AGAIN) to catch the 7am bus to Ica. We are going to see the Nazca Lines!!!
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