Peru, South America: The Amazon
If you're looking at escaping to lush jungle vegetation while you’re travelling around Peru, be sure to put aside 4 days to check out The Amazon Jungle.
Flying from Cusco to Puerto Maldonado, which is only about an hour and a half, will quickly take you out of the dry heat and into the humidity. Puerto Maldonado is the capital city of the Madre de Dios region. It's also known as The Gateway to the Southern Amazon Jungle.
We were greeted at the airport by our guide, Bruno, who took us to the Wasai Puerto Maldonado Eco-Lodge which sits close to the main town square on the banks of the Tambopata River. This is where you can leave your suitcase and only take what you need to the Wasai Tambopata Eco-Lodge located about three hours upstream. Before heading off be sure to put on some Deet or insect repellent, because you will need it. Also, there is a small convenience store located across the road for you to buy some chips and nuts to take with you as there is very limited snacks available once you are at the eco-lodge.
When ready, your guide will take you to the boat to start your travel upstream.
Preparing the boat to head upstream to the lodge.
As you travel deeper and deeper into the jungle by boat, be sure to keep an eye out for your first of many wildlife spotting opportunities. On our trip upstream we got to see some Howler Monkey’s from afar and then just as we were about to turn our last corner to the lodge we came across a family of Capybara, which are large rodents.
Capybara on the banks of the river.
As the sun started to set and after three hours travelling upstream by boat, we finally arrived at the Wasai Tambopata Eco-Lodge.
We arrived at Wasai Eco-Lodge.
After being shown to our lodge and settling in, our guide Bruno took us on a short night walk through the surrounding jungle to see if we could find any interesting nocturnal animals and insects.
Spider hanging from a leaf protecting it eggs.
We were advised to take an early night as we had to be ready to leave for our morning activity at 4:30am the next day.
Many people go to the Amazon to be able to see and take photos of the large variety of colourful local birds. A place that is great for bird photography is the Clay Lick. This is where large groups of Macaw’s come to lick the minerals out of the clay riverbank. If you’re a photographer, be sure to take your longest lens with you, as the viewing location is a fair distance from the birds so as you don’t interrupt them.
Macaw's flying away after being spooked by a Howler Monkey
Timing is the key when it comes to viewing the birds. Early morning is a must but they still may not appear at the clay lick location. We were lucky the day we went, but some ladies who went the day before said they didn’t get to see many birds at all.
That morning we were lucky enough to see a jaguar laying on the bank of the river relaxing in the morning sun. Apparently, seeing them is very rare. Again, another opportunity where I wished I had a longer lens.
Jaguar laying on the banks of the Tambopata River.
We headed back to the eco-lodge for lunch before spending the afternoon wandering through the local jungle looking for animals. We saw monkeys, butterflies, macaws and a rare spotting of a giant anteater. I didn’t get a chance to fire off any photos as it started to rain and I was protecting the camera.
After the rain passed and before the sun started to set, we made our way to check out the Wasai Volunteer Researchers lodging area.
Volunteers get to work in the Amazon on a variety of different projects that suit their interest and abilities. Volunteers can assist in all stages of the active projects from animal welfare, surveying work, tropical gardening to trail clearing, just to list a few. For more information check out Wasai’s Volunteer.
The Wasai Volunteers Lodging.
As our time in the Amazon comes to an end, we spend our last day enjoying the fun side of what Wasai Eco-lodge has to offer. From the high ropes course to the long zip line that takes you from one side of the property to the other over the Tambopata river.
Something that was on the list to try was to go piranha fishing. Piranha are a small freshwater fish that inhabits South American Rivers. Some piranhas do occasionally eat small mammals, but as with humans, it's usually when the unfortunate animal is already dead or gravely injured. A typical piranha diet consists of insects, fish, crustaceans, worms, carrion, seeds and other plant material. This time we got a some nibbles but none wanted to take the chuck of meat hanging off our oversized hook. Oh well, it was fun giving it a go.
Fishing rods made from sticks and fishing line tied to the top. Lets hope to catch something.
To end our time in the Amazon, as the sun starts to set on our last day, we had a peaceful Kayak trip down the river. Most the time you can just lay back and let the river slowly take you down stream back to the lodge. There are a few rapids along the way which are fun, but everyone gets a laugh when someone tips off and ends up in the water. Let's just say it was me and I didn’t mind it.
The last night we went out looking for wildlife, but this time it was from the water. We went looking for Caimen, sort of like a small crocodile. We searched the river banks with a high powered spotlight and looked for the yellow reflection of their eyes.
Taking photos at night is extremely hard. A medium length zoom lens will do and use manual settings. But there isn’t much time for you to get the correct setting for the shot before the caiman disappears and you take off in search of the next one.
Caiman spotting along the Tambopata River.
This trip was amazing. We got to experience so many different parts of the local culture. When it comes to travelling it's good to remember - You’re on holidays to experience as much as you can that you wouldn’t normally see and do at home.
Travel Agent: Monica Tours Peru - monicatoursperu.com
Tour Company: Wasai Lodge & Expeditions - Wasai.com
Airline: LANTAM Airlines - latam.com