Because we altered our biking route, we arrived in Cusco 1.5 weeks early. Brady’s parents are coming on June 11th, so we have plenty of time to venture around Cusco (another post). There are so many things to do around Cusco! Since we have been in the mountains in the past two weeks and we’ve checked out Peruvian amazing surfing beaches, we decided to visit the jungle- in this case, part of Peruvian Amazon along Madre de Dios River at the Tambopata region, at the fringe of Manu national park, East of Cusco. “We” (Brady) opted to take a 45 minute flight in lieu of 10 hour bus ride because “Brady has long legs”. I guess I don’t really understand the tall people problems.
Having been in the mountains and 3000m+ elevation in the past few weeks, I was more used to the cool dry weather. As soon as we arrived at Puerto Maldonado (airport town), I was assaulted by the hot, stuffy, humid, thick jungle air.
The lodge we stayed in was an hour boat ride away at the Rio Madre de Dios. I love the name, although it’s somewhat of a new name– the locals call it the “snake river” in Quechua, their local language. It’s called the snake river because the area is at pretty low elevation and at the lower section of the river, giving rise to lazy meandering river, the water chalky brown steeped with sediments.
Arriving at the Port at Puerto Maldonado– they have their very own Golden Gate bridge!! This was built 5 years ago, linking the freeway that takes people to Bolivia and Brazil (only a few hours away by car). Before this new Golden Gate bridge (not real name), people had to take ferry boats across the river.
The hostel/lodge is located right alongside the river, at the fringe of the jungle. I was so sweaty, but was wary about taking off my long sleeves because I could hear all the buzzing of the insects everywhere. Our room was awesome– it was very open– instead of floor to ceiling windows, they have floor to ceiling bug mesh, right in the middle of the jungle. During the first 10 minutes of arriving, we could hear the rustling of trees caused by a troop of monkeys (20-30 of them!) traveling through the jungle, right outside of our bug net ‘windows’.This is Simon, the resident monkey of the Lodge we were staying at– supposedly, he was bought at the black market where they sold baby Simon for 30 soles / $10. I WANT ONE. Simon is super friendly.
We checked out the monkey island– an island in the middle of the river where researchers (somehow) moved 14 different species of monkeys to in the 1970s. We only saw one monkey, but way too many mosquitoes! Welcome to the jungle.
During the night walk (no pictures due to our horrific night photography skills), we saw huge tarantulas, snails and lots lots of bugs. My skin at this point has absorbed 100% deet, but still these gnarly mosquitoes persist.
We went on a few hikes– supposedly it was ‘cool’, only 28-30 degree celsius. Apparently in the heat of the dry season, it can reach up to 45C. Yikes. Because it was the end of a rainy season, it rained almost every day, which gave way to really muddy areas, especially at the path that are well trodden.
On the way to Lake Sandoval- we had to take these boats (some of them have holes at the bottom) through a narrow path in the jungle where to the lake. We spotted a few different types of caymans, more monkeys, water chickens (weird animal), and more types of birds than I cared to remember.
It was surprisingly (for me), very relaxing. At night, we could hear the deafening din of insects calling in the jungle. It was nice to listen to, knowing that we were protected behind the bug mesh, bed netting and a few layers of Deet.
We also went on the shaddiest, but amazing zipline/ canopy walk atop of huge trees that showed signs of thermite infestation at the bottom.
On top of the jungle! The tower going up the tree (not pictured) was scary- it had no mid rails and I’m sure somebody can slip through the handrail and fall all the way down. My inner Civil Engineer cringed a lot. The air was fresh fresh and full with life and moisture.
The time in the jungle has been very calming. I thought I would be much more anxious, but sleeping in the midst of a place that contains so much life has been very enlightening and calming.
AND, for you, dear readers, this is one of my longest posts. This is your reward:
Brady and I had a very relaxing, calming and enchanting time in the jungle. I’m glad we made it out there.