This past weekend our group voyaged to Puerto Maldonado, which is in the Amazon Jungle! We flew there–it’s only about a 45 minute plane ride–Friday morning, and stayed at the Anaconda Lodge for two nights, and arrived back in Cusco Sunday afternoon. It was a quick trip, but we really packed a lot in!
Beth and me in the Amazon Jungle!
This trip was also a huge change from Cusco. As soon as we stepped off of the plane, we were blasted with the heat and humidity of the Amazon, and we all started to shed the many layers we wear in cool, dry Cusco. A van from our lodge picked us up at the airport, and we rode the short distance to our jungle retreat. The Anaconda Lodge was awesome! It is run by a couple–he is Swiss, she is Thai. We stayed in bungalows, which are just like I imagined would be in the jungle–mosquito nets around the beds, and all. The lodge is also famous for monkeys (not snakes), which swung between the trees and scampered along vines. At meal times we feasted on authentic, homemade Thai food–pad Thai, coconut curry chicken–which was absolutely delicious (Dad, you would have loved it!).
On Friday we hung around the lodge. We read, walked around, and cooled off in the pool. We got to feed monkeys, and after dinner, we went on a tarantula walk. Here are some pics:
a monkey at our jungle lodge
tarantula and its nest, seen on a late-night spider walk
We got up early Saturday morning for our day in the jungle. We drove to harbor of Rio Madre de Dios, one of the two rivers that converge at Puerto Maldonado, and then we rode on traditional boats to the part of the jungle where we would begin our expedition. The river was so foggy, but as we floated along, the fog began to lift and we were able to see more and more of our surroundings.
foggy Rio Madre de Dios and a traditional boat
We started off with a hike, and our guide, Pepe, pointed out a lot of the unique flora and fauna. My favorite was the “walking palm” which is a tree whose trunk is split up into many little trunks at the base; these allow the tree to “walk” around to find sunlight. We also saw a “torture tree” and if you tap on its trunk fire ants come scrambling out.
if you are lost in the Amazon, be sure to knock on the roots of this tree, you will be heard up to 3 kilometers away
We continued our walk until we got to a “canal” where there were canoe-like boats waiting for us. Once in, we went out onto Sandoval Lake. We saw a cayman, which is similar to a crocodile:
see the cayman's eyes peering out of the water?
We continued our boat-ride around the lake. By now it was about 11 AM and the Amazon sun was beginning to cook us. Being a pale girl, I kept slathering SPF 85 on all sun-exposed skin, but the heat began to overwhelm us. We stopped at a shady area to get out of the sun and cool off. We had lunch (rice and chicken in banana leaves, prepared for us by our Thai host), chatted with our guides, and took some pictures.
the girls of bungalow #3: Helen, Beth, me, Lindsey, and Kim
Then it was back out onto Sandoval Lake to see more local species of animals and plants. We saw bats, otters, birds, turtles, and more. It was so cool to see the native habitat, and to see animals that are similar to ones I’ve seen in America, but with some variations.
After more hiking, boating, and a little driving, we were back at our lodge. We were beat! We showered, ate, played Catch Phrase (so fun!), and headed to bed early. As hot as it was during the day, at night it cooled off into the 60’s and was PERFECT sleeping weather. In the morning we boarded our planes and came back to Cusco.
most of us Spiders (minus 7 who were in another boat)
I loved the Amazon–the plants and animals were so cool (I thought of you the entire time, Uncle Brent!), our lodge was amazing, and it was fun to experience a different part of Peru. But I was certainly glad to come back to Cusco!
Here’s what’s coming up: This week will be lots of reading and I’m planning on starting to study for our final next week. Also, we have been hit with World Cup Fever here in Cusco, and are going to one of our favorite restaurants that shows ALL of the games. This weekend is our last trip, and will be to Lake Titicaca! We leave Saturday night, and will be back Tuesday morning. I will be home two weeks from yesterday, which is both exciting and sad. I’m loving my time in Peru, but I’m also eager to see family and friends (and to eat dairy, which I don’t get much of, but miss!).
Hopefully I will post again before our trip this weekend, so check back for more perusings!