Venturing Into the Amazon
Up at 6 am for flight to Puerto Maldonado. We took a van to the airport and waited for an hour or so, laughing at how announcements in super loud Spanish would often overlap so you could not tell what the heck anyone was saying. Even the locals were rolling their eyes.
Boarded a small plane and first flew to Cuzco to drop passengers then on to Puerto Maldonado. It’s a dusty town where everyone rides motorcycles, whole families sometimes ; mamas sidesaddle and tiny babies on their laps, no helmets, Dad driving and toddler in front of him … scary!
All the taxis are motorcycles converted to rickshaws.
We stopped to look around a little. It is a crazy little town … total culture shock. Then on to the Inkaterra office to repack what we needed in a smaller duffle bags – they store the rest. By then we were sweltering ; the temperature was 35 C and humid. Our group was fun and we were all in good spirits looking forward to our adventure.
Just getting to our Ecolodge is an adventure in itself; another van to the Rio Madres de Dios, then on to a motorized huge covered canoe. We were joined by our guides Luis and Victor, who entertained us with stories. Once we were on our way, little cloth bags were handed out with bottles of cold water. The bags held our lunch which was a delicious vegetarian fried rice mixture wrapped in a huge leaf that imparts flavour. We also got a banana and some candies. The rice was so delicious and it was fantastic to be eating this way as we went down the Amazon tributary, watching the forest and also other boats go by, some laden with produce for the market.
About one hour later we reached our dock and the staircase from hell. You walk a six foot long thin plank to reach the scary stairway that goes straight up the river bank for about forty feet, sometimes with no railing … eek! If you fall, you take out everyone below you; so don’t even think about it.
At the top we were met by more Lake Sandoval staff, who carried all of our stuff up the staircase in huge sacks and then put them on a wheeled rickshaw pushing it through a deeply rutted and muddy path for three km. We put on bug spray and followed, getting our passports stamped at the Tambopata Rainforest office.
During our walk through the jungle, we saw a large sloth, putting on quite a stretchy display, lots of birds and butterflies and some amazing insects. Then we boarded canoes that were paddled by our strong men who did the luggage, Anthony and Diego – really nice guys. Pretty sexy too!
We were in a flooded rainforest area that was completely covered by canopy and the water canal was only about eight feet wide so we took a winding slow paddle along just loving the feeling of being here. After about twenty minutes we emerged into a crystal clear perfect lake. Lake Sandoval is an oxbow lake, formed by erosion by a river … this one is quite large and there are only two lodges …
… our jungle view room with king bed was covered by a huge mosquito net looking out onto many blooming hibiscus trees. We saw two types of monkey families up close, exotic birds, lizards, black caiman and billions of mosquitoes out at night on the lake. Oh and jumping piranhas.
... we had a fantastic walk through the jungle with Victor who explained all the medicinal and other uses for everything and I had brought back a vine that is pliable and can be used for lots of things including baskets etc. ...
Also we had a great morning walk with Luis who showed us a huge termite nest hanging off a tree . Then he scratched a hole in it and offered us live termite to eat. Frank and I each partook and it wasn't bad. Crunchy. I ate two so he could take a picture of it on my tongue. Only the first one crunched, so I think I just swallowed the second and kept imagining it crawling around my throat for the next half hour. Blech!!
Robyn and Franklin are sharing an excerpt from their blog Going to Peru If you would like to read more of their day to day adventures in Peru, click on the link above Going to Peru.
This blog excerpt was written by Robyn Craig and photos taken by Franklin Beckham.
Check out Franklin's art, pure and simple at
Franklin Beecham visual artist