It was a treat to arrive in Puerto Maldonado, one of Peru’s small jungle communities, after spending a couple of months in the high altitude of Cusco and the Andes.
The jungle was warm, lush and full of sound like whooping monkey calls, various bird calls and the buzzing of insects. The air was extremely humid, so I kept my hair clipped up otherwise it became a tangled frizzy mess. Mid-day showers and swims in the pool were also a must-do in order to cool down and keep sticky skin at bay, although you’d have to do it every 20 minutes to be successful. Really, you have no choice but to let your body adapt.
I chose the Monte Amazonico Lodge, located 15 kilometers up the Madre de Dios, one of the Amazon River’s tributaries.
The lodge’s main building had a large open space with a lounge area, pool tables and an eating area. The windows were screened to allow airflow and to keep the insects out.
My quarters were off the deck that was also inhabited by three of the lodge’s entertaining animal residents: Pepe the (man-hating) parrot, Maruka the (naughty) spider monkey, and Tom the patient and docile tomcat. Click on the links to read about them and to watch videos.
The windows in my room were also screened and the two beds both had bug nets around them just in case. Mental note to watch step in the night when all the cockroaches come out! That’s a given anywhere you stay in the jungle.
Ronal was our guide throughout my whole stay. He was a fantastic host full of information and knowledge about the jungle and it’s inhabitants.
Check out my post called, The Jungle: Intelligent and Ruthless, to read about the jungle’s intelligent plant life and some of the interesting creatures that reside here. The jungle is teaming with life, but also competition and death.
I felt like Indiana Jones during our two night walks as I tread lightly along trails shining my headlamp under and over leaves searching for creepy nocturnal critters. We found multitudes of them, including large strange insects and arachnids (spiders), tiny frogs and a couple of snakes (even a rainbow boa). We also spotted white caiman along the riverbank during a night-time boat excursion.
Other excursions included a jungle day hike to a swamp where we fished for piranha…
The palm-tree-rimmed Sandoval Lake and many of it’s waterfowl inhabitants, even the giant otters this lake is known for…
Kayaking down the murky Madre de Dios (where were those white caiman now? Eak!)…
Exploring Monkey Island where we saw and learned about the monkeys here…
And also zip-lining through the jungle canopy.
The week was full of interesting and fun activities as well as relaxation time to swim in the pool, play on Maruka’s rope swing or hang out in a hammock. The food here was also decent.
It was the beginning of the rainy season so we experienced some torrential rain for part of a day. It even took out our dock. Yikes!
Even a rainy day in the jungle is warm, so no need to bundle up here. Just kick back in a hammock and relax.
The calm came after the storm and the sun draped the jungle in the most beautiful golden colour.
Things were looking in rough shape back at the dock.
And even rougher later on when we spotted the dock beached downstream on Monkey Island.
We still had the boats though and managed to return to Puerto Maldonado without any problems.
A few of us explored the town before the bus left to return me to the high altitude of the Andes, this time to Lake Titicaca.
Coca Cola is big here in Peru. The coca leaves that it is made from come from this country. This is the reason Coca Cola is branded with the colours red and white, Peru’s national colours. Another interesting fact is that the cocaine extracted from the leaves is not included in the beverage…anymore.
A few of us wandered the residential area of Puerto Maldonado to see how the locals live.
And we also visited a snake farm…
…until it was time to return to the bus station.