In the space of two hours, we went from a beach (Lima), to snow capped mountains (Andes in Cusco), to the Amazon jungle (Madre de Dios). I never realised Peru was so vast and diverse. We took a one hour boat ride along the Madre de Dios (a branch of the Amazon River) to our EcoAmazonia Lodge, and it was pretty amazing. It’s basically a complex of lodges in the middle of the jungle which are built from natural materials. Electricity only runs from 5-10pm every day in the rooms, generated by solar panels, and there’s no wifi/mobile signal, so it was basically us and nature for the next two days.
On the first day after arriving, we had some superb lunch, and went on a 2km hike to Cochita Caiman, a swamp lake full of wild caiman. Seeing these guys in the open was cool. They hardly move and could pass for statues, until they decide they want to munch on something and start moving. Hiking through the jungle was cool as well. The rainforest was full of sounds and activity, responding back to the sounds our guide was making to them.
After dinner, we got a canoe along the 800m wide Madre de Dios river (all in complete darkness except some moonlight by the way, sunset happens around 17:30) to look for animals along the river bank. Here, our guide brought us to within a metre of a caiman with its snout just out the water and it’s eyes focussed right on us. We weren’t sure if it had eaten much that night, so kinda decided to move to the other side of the canoe just in case. Our guide spotted out a few constellations in the night sky to us after, and even Jupiter, which was nice. Time to call it a day after that.
On Friday, we got up early again, but this time to the natural sounds of the Amazon jungle. Our morning trek took us through the jungle and to a lake observatory for some bird spotting. Now, I would’ve usually looked at this and thought I’m good thanks, and passed if given the choice, but once we were up there, we used our guide’s binoculars to spot out all sorts of birds like woodpeckers, vultures, maccaus, and hawks. It actually ended up pretty interesting. After, we walked back to the lodge, and had to quietly step along to spot out wild deer, boar, and saw a tarantula in the wild for the first time. But the best by far was an encounter with an army of red ants, taking bits of leaves from up to 1km away and crawling along the same path we were. I’ve seen it on TV before probably during an Attenborough documentary, but seeing it in person in the wild was crazy. A short while later, we saw another colony of ants form a kind of barrier against another smaller army, and it made for some interesting viewing. Check out the videos on these ’cause describing it doesn’t come close to how cool it looked.
Red Fire Ants:
Lunch was followed by a siesta. You need a break from the walking cause you literally sweat while you stand still. It’s proper muggy in the heat. And after a few hours break, we went on our final jungle trek, and this time to Monkey Island, a small island a short boat trip away containing around fifty monkeys, mostly brown & white capuchin monkeys, and a few black spider monkeys. We expected maybe a short walk through the jungle to spot a few monkeys from a distance, but we were oh so wrong! On arrival, a curious black spider monkey approached the group and gladly took the banana on offer to him, and further on, the brown and white capuchin monkeys came in their numbers to climb onto various tourists and partake in a few games of catch the banana. It was all pretty cool. We shortly after went back to the lodge for dinner that evening, and for some much needed sleep. It was truly an awesome experience living in the jungle for a few days.
Black Spider Monkey:
Brown Capuchin Monkeys & Catching Practice!
This morning, we sadly left the lodge back to Puerto Maldonado and flew out to Cusco, where we’re setting up today in preparation for the big one, the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu! Speak to you guys in a week or so!