Jungles of Amazon
When Meera and I travelled to Peru in December 2018, visiting the Amazon Rainforests was also one of our top priorities. The main inspiration for visiting the Amazon was after watching the documentary “The Jungle” episode of Planet Earth on Netflix. We were fascinated about the wide variety of Flora and Fauna in the region and how they co-existed supporting each other. One of the important things you need to do before you visit the Amazon rainforest is to get yourself the right kind of vaccines. We realized this very late and were scrambling for doctors appointments at the very last minute. We got a travel consult and got typhoid, flu, malaria and yellow fever vaccinations before our trip. It is highly advised to do this otherwise you may risk a chance of a serious infection.
The Amazon rainforest is huge and spans many countries in South America. We spent a total of three days and two nights in the Amazon region of Peru. We flew into Puerto Maldonado, the nearest airport to the Amazon region of Peru. As the flight approaches the airport of Puerto Maldonado, you can see the Madre De Dios river (one of the nineteen tributaries of Amazon) supporting lush green forests on either sides of it.
The airport is very tiny and basic. You get off the plane using the stairs, and walk to collect your bag. The weather was very humid and it was a nice change from Cusco for us. We were staying at a Jungle resort called “The Corto Maltes Amazonia” and were picked up by the resort staff. We headed to their office in the city, quickly dropped of our big bags and just took our backpacks with us. We had to do this because we had to travel on a boat for the next hour to reach our resort.
Day 1 - Understanding the Jungle, Spotting Caymans and Capybaras
After a quick boat ride we arrived at our resort. The resort has 20 individual private bungalow’s. They have very basic features. A bed with mosquito net, a bathroom with running water, electricity between 7am - 2pm and 5pm - 10pm. There were two hammocks for us to chill in the patio. We slept to the sounds of the forest at night.
We spent the day learning about the ecosystem of the jungle. It was basically a refresher for us to understand the different kinds of plants, trees and the animals that lived in this region. There were plants which grew on top of other trees, there were trees which walked, bee hives in tree barks, termite nests, razor and bullet ants, monkeys and wide variety of birds. This region is also famous for the brazilian nuts and we learned the difficult process of harvesting them and cracking the nuts. We explored the forest with a guide and we wore gumboots(rubber boots) throughout our time exploring the jungle.
After sunset, we took the boat down the river searching for caimans and capybaras. They are nocturnal and there are high chances of finding them at night. We were really lucky to spot both! We spotted a family of Capybaras and they are know to be the largest living rodents in the world. Imagine a mouse magnified a thousand times, that’s how they looked. We also saw a couple of caimans as well and it was spooky because of their large glowing green eyes.
Day 2 - Exploring Tambopata National Preserve and Lake Sandoval
We woke up at 4.45 a.m the next day and after a quick boat ride later we arrived at Tambopata National Preserve. This was the best day because we got to learn a lot more about the forest and we spotted a lot of wildlife. We saw red monkeys, capuchin monkeys, birds, piranhas, leaf cutter ants, brown tailed squirrels, tarantula spiders, sloth, bats, turtles, river otters and many more. The main objective was to hike to the Sandoval Lake, and row a boat around the lake, and spot lots of wildlife. The path was extremely muddy and slippery as it had rained a couple of days ago and rubber boots were super helpful.
Mornings are the best time to see the wild life, and hence we woke up early to explore the forest.
Some fun facts we learned here:
leafcutter ants can carry twenty times their body weight, the only animals who can do so
Ross’s pet Marcel in F.R.I.E.N.D.S is a capuchin monkey. Their tails are as long as their bodies and usually hang by it.
tarantula spiders can live upto 15 years
The river otters in Lake Sandoval and the caimans are each others enemies
Piranhas usually don’t attack when a group of people are swimming, but they do if you are alone!
There are many more, but I cannot remember now. Some pictures from the experience :)
Our highlight of Day 2, we had a sloth wander by very close to our resort and we were super lucky to spot him. Only six species of sloth exist today and all of them inhibit in the South American jungles.
Day 3 - Watching the Clay Lick Parakeets
Again, we woke up early to watch another natural phenomenon. There are these little parrots, also commonly known as Parakeets who eat clay early in the morning which acts as an antidote for a poisonous fruit they ate a day ago. You sometimes wonder how nature works sometimes.
It was a quick hike to the viewing point, where the resort guides have a camouflage tent setup where we camped quietly to observe the spectacle. It felt as though the parakeets knew exactly what they were doing. First they descend and hang out at the top of the tall trees nearby the clay wall making lots of noise. Then they slowly proceed down one branch at a time and making sure there are no predators around. Then a group of two to three birds make an attempt eating the clay from the wall, and once they are comfortable they signal and let the rest of the troops know and everyone comes to feast. This lasts for approximately fifteen minutes and after they are done everyone leaves all at once. The Parakeets vdemonstrate such discipline and patience throughout this entire spectacle.
This was it. Our three day packed adventure in the jungles of Amazon. We loved every moment of it while we were and were deeply humbled by the workings of mother nature. Life is tough in the jungles for everything that thrives and lives there.
We took the boat back to Puerto Maldonado and explored the local market. We got lunch at a local restaurant before heading to the airport for our flight back to Lima in the evening.
**All videos and pictures in this post are from our phones and camera