4 Days in the Amazon Jungle, Peru
The Amazon Rainforest has always fascinated me - being the lungs of Planet Earth is a huge responsibility and one that commands the greatest amount of respect. It is also the most biodiverse region on Earth and is home to some of the most exotic plants and animals. Though ~60% of the Amazon rainforest is in Brazil, Peru has the next highest amount at ~13% and Puerto Maldonado in Peru is known as the gateway to the Southern Amazon jungle. So, if we are going to Peru, we had to get a taste of the Amazon jungle. And that is how we ended up spending our 13th anniversary in the tropical rainforest, soaking in the jungle experience, after hiking the Inca trail.
We flew from Cusco to Puerto Maldonado and were warmly received at the airport by our resort concierge. We were then transported by a bus to the river bank and then took a 45 minute boat ride on the river to reach our resort. This was the first of many boat rides which we would come to love and look forward to throughout our stay :)
Our luggage was taken directly to our assigned cabins and we were welcomed at the resort with drinks in the lobby. Everyone who arrived on that day was divided into small groups for tours and our group had 6 people in it. After a quick introduction to our tour guide, we had lunch in their elegantly designed dining room and retired to our cabins for a quick afternoon nap.
We woke up early to the incredible sounds of birds and animals in the morning and were in the dining room by 5:30 am for breakfast. We had a 6 am tour to Lake Sandoval and Tambopata National Reserve to witness some wildlife in action.
After a pleasant 1-mile boardwalk in the jungle, where we were accompanied by a lovely big blue butterfly, we boarded a wooden canoe to explore Lake Sandoval. It is a beautiful part of the forest and we saw giant river otters playing in the lake, monkeys playing on the trees and several varieties of birds. We spent about an hour on the lake and headed back as it began to get hot.
Our next tour is the Inkaterra Canopy Walkway at 3 pm. It is a suspension bridge network built high above the forest ground (about 30 meters), connecting 8 observation platforms, designed to explore the jungle. It was fun walking on the high canopy, encountering the treetops and getting to observe the jungle from a different angle.
The best part of the Canopy tour were the cute red-howler monkeys that were lazily hanging around the trees to escape the afternoon heat.
Our last tour was a night jungle walk to explore the nocturnal wildlife such as tarantulas and red-necked night monkeys. Night monkeys make very interesting vocal sounds which we got to hear, though we didn't get to see them. Our guide gathered us around a giant tree in the middle of the jungle and switched off all headlamps, so we get to experience both incredible sounds and peace at the same time. Pure moments!
Our morning 7 am tour was a farm visit to pick and taste the local fruits and learn about the local flora and fauna. We picked and tasted a star fruit and a variety of citrus fruits which are in season, cut a banana bunch that is almost ripe, and surveyed other tropical trees. We also saw some spider monkeys and capuchin monkeys along the way. It was a fun tasting event that we enjoyed, after which we took a canoe through beautiful narrow straits to get back to the river bank.
Our afternoon tour was around 2 pm to Hacienda Concepcion, which was a former cacao and rubber plantation, that was turned into a sister resort by Inkaterra. They have a botanical garden with an immense variety of medicinal plans found in the Amazon region. Our guide had us chew a leaf of a plant with anesthetic powers which made our mouth numb in seconds. It was quite a weird feeling! He also showed us several plants which the locals use to cure diarrhea, constipation, to increase libido and those used in making special drinks ;)
Our guide then walked us through the Brazil nut harvesting process, showed us the pods which need to be broken open to get the Brazil nuts, which are essentially seeds. Let's just say it's not an easy process :)
We enjoyed learning about the symbiotic relationships between the various plants and animals which are fascinating, as are the various defensive and propagative mechanisms they employ - like the tree that shifts its roots and moves around for sunlight and the one that sheds its entire bark on a regular basis to avoid pests. Each one has a captivating story - one of grit, perseverance and survival.
We spent the happy hour in the bar with the others in our small group, exchanged stories, had dinner together and called it a night.
I woke up in the morning to this glorious sunrise that just brightened up the river, the landscape, my soul and pretty much everything! What a bliss!!
We wanted to have a relaxed morning, to enjoy reading in the hammock while listening to the birds sing and watching the river flow. So, we skipped the morning tour and settled down comfortably in our hammocks and I just soaked in the beauty of the surroundings while reading "The Wisdom of Sundays" by Oprah Winfrey. It was just the perfect book for such a wonderful setting and a lovely occasion.
After a rejuvenating morning and a late breakfast, we checked out at lunch time and went to the dining room for our last lunch at the resort. We said our good-byes to all the people we met (including a family that flew all the way from Mumbai to Peru for this), our thanks to the guide and concierge and took one last boat ride on that river to head back to the airport.
Our Amazon jungle experience was sensorial-ly stimulating and peaceful at the same time. We loved our stay at the Inkaterra resort - the Property was beautiful, the river-front cabana was amazing, the food was good, the tours were great and the service was excellent. It was very well organized and we were taken care of very well right from the airport pickup on Day 1 till we were dropped off on Day 4. Needless to say, we definitely recommend this resort. The weather was hot and humid which made the afternoon tours and stay uncomfortable, but that was expected in the jungle where there is no AC and has very limited electricity. They do have ceiling fans that run limited hours and the boat tours in the river were always pleasant with that lovely breeze :) Though we didn't see anacondas or other exotic animals, we learned a lot, had a taste of the jungle and a good experience overall.
Did you always want to explore the Amazon jungle too?