So Cusco airport wasn,t too far from the hotel. The flight to Puerto Maldonado was only 45 minutes, pretty ,much up and down with a complimentary sweet from the hostess.
We got out and went to the local tours tour company,s headquarters. We then put the stuff for the jungle in duffle bags and were able to store the rest. We then had a drive to the river with some commentary by the guide. “There are 7 species of bananas in Peru”. Please not again. It wasn,t too bad though just a long talk about the different types of economic activity in the jungle. We then got to the dock and walked down some steps to a jungle boat. It was very long and thin with a canopy and was quite a bit wobbly. We went along the river Tambopata which is quite a wide and muddy river. It eventually flows into the Madre de Dios then the Beni then the Madeira and finally the Amazon.
By the time we got there it was bit late to do anything so we had a rest before dinner. The rooms did not have electricity. It was like like a giant barn with dividers. The outer wall was open and there were no doors to the rooms just curtains. There was a safe for valuables and for snacks (as one species of rat has a very strong sense of smell). There were also some kerosene lamps in the inside wall which the staff lit in the early evenings and candles. I couldn,t help thinking that mosquito nets + highly flammable bug spray + candles could be a recipe for trouble. Obviously the wildlife could get in but apparently they didn,t although there was a whistle on the inner wall. The shower was made from the sort of plastic they hang to separate off the back part of supermarkets. Emma was a bit concerned as anyone in the jungle could watch people having a shower (although I guess there was no-one there). Dinner was help yourself. They have electricity in the dining room during mealtimes and they had an Xmas tree blaring out annoying jingles. It was a case of fairly early to bed as there is not much to do and only candlelight.
The next day we got up at 4am had breakfast. the annoying Xmas tree was still on but it accidentally got switched off some how. We went to the 3 chimbondas lake. We all went on a boat with one guy rowing. We saw various birds including a big fat bird that smells horrible (no jokes please). We then went to the side and tried catching piranhas. Some piranhas were caught and we got to see the teeth. The boat rower put some in a bucket as he was planning on having piranha soup for lunch. We then saw the giant river otters and were able to sneak up on them. They eat 4kg of fish each a day (mainly piranhas). We also saw a black caiman.
We then went back and went to the canopy tower. This is a giant metal tower which went above the top of the jungle. It was held in place by guy ropes but was very wobbly climbing up. We saw a couple of macaws. I scanned the jungle canopy with my binoculars for wildlife. Is that a bird? No a dead leaf. Is that a snake? No a mottled twig. Is that a monkey? No a group of dead leaves. Hmph.
We then went down to the river where we went in a hide and saw lots of Macaws doing the “clay lick”. They lick the clay as it gives them nutrients they can,t get from their food. this gave a lot of good photo opportunities.
We then went back for lunch. After lunchm Jeremy, Tom and I signed up for an extra activity kayaking to the botanic garden where we would meet the others later. We did very well and made good progress downstream. We pulled into a shady inlet and then stopped at a nice beach. The chief kayaker said we could rest here and then it was only 10 minutes more. He then went up some stairs and came back and said we were there (so he obviously didn,t know where we were going). We got back in the kayaks though and just went in circles and played river cricket (with paddles and little fruits from a fallen tree) for 30 minutes.
After the others turned up we went up to the botanic gardens for an appointment with the local Shaman. He was wearing t-shirt and jeans which seemed somewhat wrong. We went around and he showed us various plants and talked about what you can use them for and how to prepare the potions. At the end we got to sample a shot of some of these potions – one that is good for the kidneys, the “Amazon Red Bull” and the “Amazon Viagra”. They all tasted slightly weird but I can,t report any effects from any of them particularly.
We then had dinner before 5 of us went on a night hike. We saw a frog, a large grasshopper type thing, 2 spiders and something that Jeremy said was not a spider despite looking like one. As this wasn,t terribly interesting the guide found a tarantula,s nest and poked it with a long stick to get it out. So we got some decent photos and no-one got bitten.
I remembered my malaria tablet at 1am so had to get up get a snack out of the safe (as must be taken with food). was sure to then use mouthwash as slightly paranoid about the rat!
The next day we left the jungle and got a flight back to Lima via Cusco. There seem to be lots of houses built just before the end of Cusco runway!