Our Amazon Adventure…
I know we said just a couple of days ago that it would be really hard to beat the time we spent at Machu Picchu, but we thought we’d give it a go and booked a trip to The Amazon.
Day 77 – Tuesday 9th August 2016
After gettng a great nights sleep on the bus we woke up at 06:55 just before we arrived at Puerto Maldonado bus station, where we were met by our guide. We didn’t know to look for him so took a seat and waited until he walked over to us with Abbie’s name written on a whiteboard and waved it in our faces, which had us both pretty excited. He gave us a ride to the office, shared some details of what we’d be doing over the next few days, and then continued to the river where we jumped on board our first boat of many:
After twenty minutes down the river we’d arrived at our home for the next two evenings, The Amazon Lodge:
I don’t quite know what I was expecting, but it was great. Our room didnt have walls, but instead massive green mosquito nets, and inside each bed had its own cover which made it feel like a posh campsite, when really it was the complete opposite:
It was amazing to hear so much wildlife around our room, from the annoyance of crickets throughout the day, to parrots of a morning, and anteaters on the hunt for food of an evening.
Our first activity of the day was fishing, which I’ve never done before and didn’t particularly fancy, but tried anyway. We took a boat down the river for another fifteen minutes or so, and then stopped for a short walk to our fishing spot. It seemed a bit silly to turn off of a massive river and then go fishing in what looked to us like a glorified puddle, but we took the guides word for it. Of our eight person group, just one person caught a fish, and that was the guide with his decent fishing rod. The rest of us were using sticks with string attached, which at first seemed authentic but in the end just felt rubbish. We moved on from the puddle and tried in the lake for another hour or so, where again just one of the group actually caught something.
From there it was another boat ride back to the lodge for lunch. Unsure of what to expect we ended up pleasantly surprised at what they told us was monkey but tasted like beef. In fact I’m 99% sure that it was beef and the guy serving us was just trying to be funny.
After eating we had some down time and then travelled to the canopy, an elevated platform connecting two trees over fourty metres above the ground, like something you’d see on I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here, but with less safety equipment. I’m not that great with heights and always thought something like this would leave me petrified, but it wasn’t that bad in all honesty, regardless of the fact that it was really wet and windy:
With our second activity of the day over and done with we returned to the lodge and had some spare time to get talking to the other guests. We met two guys who spoke in Spanish most of the time and seemed nice but didn’t chat too much, and two American girls who were great company. We sat with them for dinner, which was chicken and rice with Peruvian aji sauce – another one ticked off of the list of things that we don’t get at home. Almost straight after eating we hit the sack and got to sleep early. The overnight bus caught up with us I guess…
Day 78 – Wednesday 10th August 2016
Our day started a little earlier than anticipated thanks to an extremely inconsiderate tropical rainstorm which sneaked up on us at around 04:00. Although annoying, it was pretty spectacular to watch and listen to. We didn’t sleep much between then and breakfast but lounged around in our room and on the hammock outside instead.
For breakfast we had mixed fruit with pancakes, and scrambled egg with bread rolls and jam. A peculiar combination but enough to set us up for the day ahead. We left around 09:00 with our Spanish and American friends and headed for Lake Sandoval where we spent the rest of the day.
We took a boat down the river, again, for about fifteen minutes, then hopped out and took a 3km hike as far as the edge of what’s known as the Buffer Zone, and a further 2km hike to the lake itself. On the way we stopped to check out the different types of trees and insects that can be found in the jungle, including wasps, butterflies and tarantulas of course:
Then we examined a huge termites nest, and had a snack on some of its live inhabitants (under the permission of our guide of course). Gross.
At the lake we jumped into a canoe and headed towards another lodge, which took a good couple of hours because we spent so much time watching the wildlife. We saw a variety of birds, and spotted a few monkeys too, but only in the distance. I don’t know what it was about the birds that had me so fascinated, probably the fact that I’ve never seen any of them before. I had no idea what any of them were either:
In fact the last one is definitely a heron, but still impressive. We also saw a few bats, which is rare because they don’t usually come out before dark:
The canoe ride seemed to go on forever, but finally we reached the lodge where we stopped for lunch. We had juanes de arroz, so chicken and rice again, which was a bit boring but done the job. It was then was announced to the group that we’d be split up for the rest of our stay. The Spanish and Americans booked four days and three nights, but we only booked three days and two nights, which meant that they got to stay at the lodge on the lake and we had to return on our own. We said our goodbyes and then wandered off with the guide who was meant to take us all the way back, but didn’t do a very good job of it!
We took a boat as far as the middle of the lake, where we bumped into another boat full of people, which seemed like a coincidence but definitely wasn’t. Our guide told us that we had to climb out of our boat into the other, with nothing to hold on to, and no stability whatsoever. It was pretty scary, and I was convinced that I’d end up in the water, but luckily we both managed it. Our guide then took off and left us with a bunch of strangers to find our way back to the river.
At first we saw the positive side to being with this new group, because they were fearless and took us to within a few feet of a caiman in the river, which we both felt pretty uneasy about but loved experiencing:
It soon became clear that they didn’t really care for including us and walked off in front. Their loss though, because they missed the highlight of the day – more monkeys! This time they were all heading somewhere, and crossed the trees directly above our heads. There was more than a few species and some were actually quite photogenic:
We carried on to the river once the monkeys had passed, and arrived around 16:30, half an hour early for our 17:00 boat home. We’ve heard before than there’s real time and then there’s Peru time, but this was the first time we experienced it. It reached 17:00 and there was no sign of a boat, so we waited a little more. By 17:30 we started to get worried and by 18:00 it was getting dark. On our own in the jungle with nothing but a torch we had two options, carry on waiting, or flag some passing Americans and hitch a ride home. Thankfully it worked when we opted for the latter and we found a group willing to drop us back. We weren’t impressed though, and I think this selfie perfectly represents what we thought of the situation:
We got back at 18:30, still well over an hour late, with no sign of the guy who was supposed to be picking us up. Instead of getting too worked up and annoyed about it we just went to the bar and got a few beers. The staff at the lodge had no idea what we were on about when we tried to explain that we’d been left stranded, and it wasn’t until gone 19:30 that the man who was meant to pick us up got back. He smiled and apologised, and again instead of getting stressed we just let it go. It wasn’t an ideal situation, but we both got home safe, and that’s all that matters at the end of the day.
For dinner, you guessed it, rice, but with beef this time. New guests also arrived, from Brighton which is just down the road from where we live, but they joined us the day after completing a four day hike to Machu Picchu and didn’t talk much, presumably because they were exhausted! Thankfully it’s much easier to get an early night in the jungle when it gets dark by 18:30, and it always feels much later than it actually is after a long day too. We went to bed a little later tonight, slightly unsettled after the whole stranded in the jungle scenario, but happy with the end result being the best of a bad situation.
Thursday 11th August 2016
We had one activity left in the jungle, and it was just our luck that this one happened to start at 05:00, which meant another 04:30 start for us. We took a boat down river for well over an hour towards what’s known as the clay lick, where parrots gather to lick minerals from the clay walls. It was alright, and we spotted a few parrots, but I wouldn’t say it was worth getting up so early for:
After than we headed straight back for breakfast and then had to shower and packed in a hurry because our boat back to Puerto Maldonado was due to leave at 08:30. We just about made it and that’s where our jungle adventure comes to an end. By 09:00 we found ourselves in a bus station with nothing else booked – no travel accommodation or activities, so spent the rest of the day planning.
First on our to-do list was arranging a way our of Puerto Maldonado. With the intention of heading to Puno we booked a bus to Juliaca, which takes roughly twelve hours to get to but is only an hour away from our destination. The only bus was the 18:30, which guaranteed us at least nine hours of waiting in a bus station. It’s a pretty sad way to spend a day but the only option we had.
After getting that sorted we booked a few hostels, and even another flight, but I won’t give away our destination and ruin the surprise. We had nothing to eat except for crackers and biscuits until 17:00 when we wandered to a corrugated iron shed and got a plate of (you guessed it!) chicken and rice, for the equivalent of 61p each. Not a bad price for dinner though, right?
From dinner it was on to our bus, where we we’ve given extra leg room seats at no extra cost, which was quite a touch. We got to sleep early enough, but that’s not to say that we did wake up several times in transit. It’s kinda difficult to get a good nights sleep when you’re driving through the mountains you know? Hopefully it’s all worthwhile when we arrive in the morning though!