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Published: August 27th 2006
Although Machu Picchu was definitely the reason why I chose to do this trip, the Amazon rain forest came in a close second. Its preliminary ranking was right on the mark. Although not as breathtaking as the lost city, the Amazon jungle was a once in a lifetime experience.
Listening to our tour guide's warning that the jungle could have very unpredictable weather, all of us brought our rain coats and fleece jackets. Right...didn't quite need it in the 40 degree with 100% humidity weather we encountered while we were there. I felt like I was back in Doha. However, unlike Doha, there was no air conditioning. In fact, there was no electricity and no hot water (although the last thing you wanted was a hot shower after a day of trekking through the jungle!). The lodge we stayed at was quite basic, but it was very clean and protected us from the wildlife.
The wildlife was, of course, the highlight of the tour. Although we escaped the sounds of Peruvian cities, the trend of loud noises most definitely continued in the jungle. The birds, the monkeys, the frogs, the cicadas...none of these animals would give us a minute
of peaceful quiet! However, it was amazing falling asleep and waking up to the sounds of a jungle...sounds that aren't cheesy CD from a meditation store.
Our trip started with a two hour boat ride on a motorized canoe down a river whose name escapes me right now (not the Amazon River though). After we arrived at the lodge and ate lunch, we headed over to an island right across from the lodge, which was called Monkey Island. With the aid of some bananas, we were able to see four different kinds of monkeys. Have I mentioned how much I love primates? I'm not joking. I love them. I actually think orangutan (hmm, Kristy, where's the "g"? 😉 babies are potentially cuter than human babies. Anyway, it was very, very cool seeing the monkeys in the wild as opposed to behind the glass at the Calgary Zoo.
After dinner, most of us made our way to bed as the generator lights (that they kindly put on for us for a few hours each night) went out at 10 p.m. The other reason that we went to bed so early was because we were really at military camp, or
Yup, that´s a tarantula!
so that's my theory. We had a wake-up call at 5:00 a.m., breakfast at 5:30 a.m. and a 5 hour trek into the jungle starting at 6:00 a.m. I'm sorry, I thought I was on holidays for a second. Considering, however, that our 5:00 a.m. start wasn't the first or last time we have had to get up that early, I guess I was mistaken about this being a holiday. A tour really means lack of sleep and ridiculously early mornings, but I digress!
The trek was actually really, really cool despite me not remembering the first half, as I still wasn't awake. We learned all about particular trees and their healing powers (the Amazon is filled with breakthrough medical discoveries waiting to happen). We also saw a tarantula and the guide coaxed four people in our group into eating a grub, basically the larvae of a beetle. I know most of you will be shocked to discover that I was NOT one of the four. I know, I'm usually so adventurous when it comes to food. I just don't understand why I chickened out. 😉 Supposedly, it tasted like coconut. I'll take their word for it. After the
Here's my roommate Shelley eating a grub...a.k.a. insect!
hike, we took a very old canoe around a little lagoon full of beautiful lily pads and supposedly caiman, although our group missed the exciting caiman spotting.
When some of the others went pirhana fishing, I took it easy with a few of my other tour members and relaxed by the pool, enjoying the sounds of the jungle. The howler monkey must have been asleep during this time, as the sounds mostly originated from the mccaws living around the lodge. The howler monkey, if I haven't mentioned it yet, is the jungle's rooster. If the lodge employees hadn't knocked on our door at 5:00 a.m., I'm pretty sure not many of us could have slept through the howler monkey's calls. It sounded like one of those scary Halloween soundtracks. I actually thought it was the lodge's form of torture and they were playing it over the speaker system--that's how loud and annoying it was. I still love those primates though.
After dinner on our last night, we went caiman watching in a canoe. First, though, we shut off the engine and watched the stars. I know I'm using the word "amazing" too much, but that's the only word
I can think of to describe it. The sky was so clear and you could see thousands of stars. You could even see the Milky Way. The guide described a few of the Incan constellations to us and we just sat back and watched. Afterwards, we cruised the coastline with a huge flood light trying to spot the glowing red eyes of the caiman. We actually ended up seeing at least half a dozen. They're quite small though and they look like pieces of wood, so trying to see them in the pitch black from a canoe meters away proved to be quite the challenge.
We are now back in the cold weather of Cusco and heading to Puno and Lake Titicaca, which have higher altitudes than Cusco, tomorrow. I have to say, I think I'm a Canadian at heart...I welcomed the return to the cold weather with open arms. Me and hot, humid weather just don't agree. But, for two days in tthe jungle, I'll suck up the sweat, itchy bites, and puffy eyes!
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