South America | Peru | Peruvian Amazon | Puerto Maldonado – First impressions of the jungle
I´ve got 30 mins to talk about the amazing experiences of the last few days. Nowhere near enough time.
After the bone filled crypts of Lima, I caught a plane to the small jungle town of Puerto Maldonado – very strange seeing 737s landing surrounded by tropical forest. Something didn´t seem right though, it was cloudy and not particularly warm. Once I had located the people that were supposed to be picking me up the newly arrived tourists and myself were driven down the bumpy track to the river port where our little river boat awaited. The 1 1/2 hour journey up the river wasn´t pleasant because it was cold and rainy but quite a few birds (parrots, hawks, herons) were pointed out along the way and we stopped by the riverbank to watch a family of Capybara munching their way through the bankside vegetation.
Once at our destination (and my home for the next 6 months) – Explorer´s Inn – we had a very welcome 3 course dinner and then I was shown to my cabin. I´ve got a whole one to myself at the moment, which consists of 2 beds (with mosquito nets), and an on-suite toilet and shower (with cold water from the river). There´s also a small candle should I need to see anything in there. I´ve had to seriously adjust my body-clock since I arrived, the first morning we were supposed to wake up at 5 (I overslept to 5:30) have breakfast at 5:30 and start our first walk at 6! The first walk was just too overwhelming as our guide pointed out ants, parrots, monkeys and loads of other stuff. It was all just too much to take in. At the end of the trail was a small lake on which we took a couple of canoes and saw the very rare Giant River Otter (grows to about 2 m long) which inhabits the lakes around here. By 10am I was starving and couldn´t believe that lunch was still more than 3 hours away!
I´ve been at the lodge nearly 3 days now and getting up before 6am is a daily experience that I am now starting to get used to. Even around the Explorer´s Inn there is so much to see like the hummingbirds that visit the bush in front of my cabin, the tamarind monkeys that raid the banana hut and the red howler monkeys that regularly wake you up about 5am with the most eerie roaring sound, the best way to describe this would be like the whistling of the wind but with a sore throat! The sun has come out for the first time today, the last few days have been a period of cold winds called ´friaje´ which is a bit unusual this time of the year. Feels much more tropical now.
Today I´ve just nipped into town to look around the market to buy a few things – string, drainpipe, generator, machete etc and just managed to avoid being fixed up with the stallholders daughter! The town is an amazing place, it´s great fun trying to find what you need – and there´s a good chance that it´s here somewhere. Feels very strange being in an internet cafe in the middle of all this. Hopefully I´ll be able to get back into town in the next couple of weeks to tell you more about life in the jungle.