In the Jungle

Sunday in the jungle.
The flight from Cusco to Puerto Maldanardo was about 45 minutes and coming from high in the Andes we were blasted with heat stepping off the airplane. Our guide mentioned this was a rather cool day as temps are usually really sticky hot. We jumped into a van and headed for the office to drop off our suitcases as we took just a back pack for two nights. Back in the van and 45 min later we arrived at the Tambopata River which is one of the main tributaries into the Amazon. The ride to the lodge took about two hours with several stops for wildlife sightings along the way.
Leoa our cute young local guide served us lunch on the boat which was in a metal covered bowl tucked in a cotton drawstring bag. The meal was rice, an assortment of grilled vegetables and chicken for all except for me which was a special, just vege one for me. It was so delicious and there was also a packet of crackers and a little banana and Leoa also gave each of us a water bottle. Really cool zipping along the river, dense jungle on each side munching on a really tasty lunch.

Shortly after we finished eating Leoa jumped up and had the driver cut the engine and he pointed out three Macaws feeding on the mineral wall. He mentioned this was quite a good sighting as the last group did not have a good Macaw sighting. After photos were taken we headed on up the river in high spirits. The next spotting was again Leoa jumping up and stopping the boat as we all gazed in the direction along the muddy bank where he was pointing. It took a bit before we were able to see the movement of a head and body of a small pig sized brown rodent (largest in the world we were told) emerging from the muddy looking water. It was followed by another bit smaller rodent, a female, (canaberra which is probably spelled wrong) and then there came a little tiny baby that made me ooh and awe. They were meandering around the shore so we all got a really good look and good pics. We also spotted buzzards and Leoa gave us the names of some birds that were flying along the shores.

Arriving at the dock of the lodge I was a bit overwhelmed by the amount of stairs we had to climb but about 3/4 of the way up we were shown the high water mark during the rainy season from Dec thru May.

The main lodge consisted of two large screened rooms on either side of the steps and we were greeted by Homer, a large green parrot who was quite young but had two words (hola and hello)already, waived when you did and laughed every time I did.
The dining room was on the left and the bar on the right. The rooms were high roofed thatched huts (two attached together) with the interior separated by walls not all the way to the ceiling so we could hear Pauline and Frances in the next hut and they us. The bedroom and private bath had all outside walls just screens and we were serenaded all night by the jungle sounds and gently awakened each morning as the choir of birds grew little by little as the dawn crept in. Love that special morning time.
The lodge turned on the generator from 5 pm to 10 pm each evening and had a bank of charging plugs so everyone could recharge camera batteries etc. no wifi. Our rooms only had candles which were needed after dark.

The first night there was a jungle walk and I opted to stay and read. I had started reading “Gone Girl” and it called my name a bit more than gimping thru the jungle at night. Wayne thoroughly enjoyed the outing spotting a snake, bamboo rats, possum, lemur and lots of bugs. Confirmed my decision to read for sure!!!!!

Up early for a 6:00am breakfast and we were on the river before 7:00am. We went about 20 minutes up River and disembarked on the opposite shore for a mile or so walk to the lake we would be visiting. All thru out the walk Leoa would stop after spotting movement and then show us monkeys, birds, insects along with explaining all the plants and trees. We had two really great tarantula sightings where he enticed them out of hiding. The second one was huge!!! Luckily they are shy.

We made it to the lake and climbed aboard a canoe and were taken around the lake for some good bird sightings. We gave our Birds of Peru bird chart to Juber when we left Peru so I can’t give you the correct specific names but we saw some beautiful birds. The grand finale was when Leoa threw crackers into the lake and the piranha flew to the top and gobbled up the crackers. Quite a show. Leoa also demonstrated that piranha are not as Hollywood projects by putting his hand in the river trying to attract them and absolutely no action. He did note that if he had a cut on his hand it would have been a totally different ending to the demonstration. Great trek back to the lodge with lots of monkey sightings.

That evening they took a night piranha hunt (without me) and had a fun time spotting really big ones on the river.

The meals were really delicious and each lunch and dinner they had a special dish of grilled veges for me. I kept telling Leoa it was not necessary but they would show up at the next meal again and were delicious. All meals were buffet style with a lot of selections and options for meat lovers and non meat lovers.

We left the next day mid morning and the boat ride back, as always seemed much shorter. Once in the van and since we had time before our flight to Lima, Juber had the driver do a city tour of Puerto Maldanardo which quite frankly was not the highlight of the day. I must confess here that our Kaiser travel pharmacist was quite alarmed when I mentioned we would be in this city and she was quite relieved to hear we were not spending the night. She said it had the highest known cases of malaria of all the jungle towns. I think that may have hindered my feeling any warmth towards that city.

After arriving in Lima we all got together for a farewell dinner. After spending 21 days together it was quite moving saying a final good bye to Pauline, Frances, Lanah and Juber. We really had become a great little family. It’s so nice to know we have family in Ireland, Australia and Peru now!!
I finished writing this in the Galapagos and I’m really tired and apologize as I did not proof read. Hope you can track OK.
Hugs to all!!!!

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