23 June 2014

Peru: Day 11: Off to the Amazon

By the time this posts, we'll be back in Cusco after our internet-free trip to the Amazon jungle, but I'll continue to write at the end of each day.

Today we got up and checked out of our hotel in Cusco for the short trip to the airport. We're off to the Amazon jungle via a city called Puerto Maldonado. PM is one of the largest jungle cities in Peru, but it's dwarfed by all of the other places we've seen. Our flight out of a Cusco was delayed about 90 minutes, but the 40-minute flight to PM meant that we didn't lose the day with the delay.

We landed in PM, picked up our luggage, and met the shuttle drivers from the Hacienda Concepcion, our home for the next three nights. They drove us to their facility 100 m outside of the airport, where we wandered a butterfly sanctuary while they checked our passports and such. Once everything was confirmed, we drove through PM to the docks on the river. PM is nothing to write home about. Its main industries are mining, lumber, and tourism, and the main feature is that the intercontinental highway runs straight through town.

At the docks, we boarded two motorboats and headed down the Madre de Dios river past where it merges with the Tambopata river. PM was 85 and muggy, but the ride down the river was cool and breezy.

We got to the resort dock (really just some hard mud steps created as the river receded during the dry season), had lunch, and settled in to our cabana. We befriended Linda and Jim, another couple from LA, and we lunched together and shared adventure stories about our Peru trips. After settling in for a bit, we all reconvened at the nature lodge for a welcome talk by Gabriel and Dino. Each day has about three different nature adventures that we can take part in, and G and D talked about today's events, both of which we took part in.

The first was a 60-minute long nature walk through the grounds with one of the guides. Dino led our group, pointing out flora and fauna as we progressed. Here are some things I learned:

  • Some palm trees can walk.
  • Monkeys are territorial.
  • This area of the Amazon has no history of malaria (so I stopped taking my malaria meds).
  • Dino always carries his machete.

After we got back for the walk, we had a bit of time to finish unpacking and wander the grounds at dusk.

Once the sun set, we gathered back at the Eco lodge to take a nighttime boat cruise in search of nocturnal animals. We found a number of caimans and a few roosting birds.

After the cruise, a nice dinner in the hotel. The service was a little confused (5 waiters couldn't handle 20 tables), but the food was excellent.

Now, we're back in our cabana for the night. Each of the cabanas has a bed, a hammock, a chair, a loveseat, and bathroom facilities. There is very little power, and what power there is is regulated: the electricity is shut off for about 8 hours per day. It's chilly at night, and the jungle is alive with insects and bats. Tomorrow: birds and monkeys!



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