Our Amazon Adventure
You guessed it - another early start. We left Cusco, where the night before we ventured from our hotel in pouring rain, to buy a few rain ponchos and get a meal.
We almost missed the flight to Puerto Maldonado thanks to the incompetence of the airline staff. Puerto Maldonado is at sea level (so no need to suck coca sweets which seem to bear a close resemblance to boiled lollies made of grass clippings).
We were met by our guide Josie, who turned out to be an amazingly resourceful and knowledgeable young woman, and joined by an American called Randy who fitted in to our group like he had always belonged.
We drove for about 3 hours through shanty towns of gold miners who are steadily destroying the jungle, to our first boat ride. 10 minutes across the water and we clambered into 2 more vehicles for a 45 minute drive across rough dusty roads to the Madre de Dios River. Here we met another boat - this time with padded seats and life jackets, for our approximately 4 hour ride to the Manu Wildlife Center. We were hot, hungry and exhausted when we arrived and were shown to our cabins in the twilight.
That night we had our first walk in the jungle…it reminded us of the Daintree - minus the jaguar footprints!! Super tired we collapsed in the candlelight of our bungalows (no electricity) and woke early for breakfast.
The next three days we hiked through the twilight to a hide where we lay in wait for tapirs who never came - and hiked back through the moonlight jungle - a total of 6 km, but it took us about an hour and a half each way. Next day a tapir brought her baby to the lodge - so we didn't miss out! And the hike was fun!
We took a short boat ride to a clay kick and once again lay in wait - this time for macaws. Sadly only one pair came down, but it was better than none. These beautiful big birds continually announced their presence by flying over us at a great height - too far to be photographed.
On another morning we rose early and took a boat to an oxbow lake, where we punted around on a makeshift catamaran peering at the bird and fauna life - and spotted a caiman in the muddy waters - and best of all a sloth in the trees. And we did a few more walks through the forest finding those spooky big cat footprints, fascinating fungi and very big insects. We watched monkeys, capuchin and squirrel, play in the trees around the lodge. We climbed a huge spiral staircase, deep in the forest to a viewing platform 45 metres above the ground - but vertigo got the better of me and I descended before dusk despite the awesomeness of the experience.
At the end of our stay we repeated our trip back to Puerto Maldonado and onto to LIma. And it is here that we end our adventures in Peru… we return to Sydney tomorrow - I plan to spend much of the flight listening to my dozens of new tango songs on my iphone.
P.S. wi-fi in Peru is not the best... so pics will come later!!