We really wanted to make our visit to the Amazon jungle really special so we decided to visit for our first wedding anniversary and splash out on a nice lodge in the jungle while there – we were not disappointed. We visited the Tampobata Reserve, a few hours by boat on the Tampobata river from Puerto Maldonaldo in Peru and while this is not the Amazon river proper, it is a great place to get quickly into the jungle. We stayed at the fantastic Refugio Amazonas Eco Lodge which I recommend for its great location, rooms, guides and food.
To get here we took a short flight from Cusco to Puerto Maldonado – just 35 minutes – landing on a runway surrounded by jungle was a great way to raise the excitement level. Our flight high in the Andes at 3400m comfortably where we were comfortably wearing layers of warm clothes. We stepped off the plane at just 200m and exited into a wall of heat.
We soon found ourselves capable of sweating profusely while doing little more than standing on the spot – we had definitely arrived and we had already learnt our first two rainforest lessons:
1. It is hot, really hot
2. It is humid, really humid
It would be a short while before we learnt these other important rainforest lessons:
3. There are insects – lots of them
4. Don’t touch anything – particularly snakes
5. When it rains, it really rains
Oh, and Em also learnt one other important lesson:
6. Always walk behind someone tall – they collect the spiders webs across the path leaving your way clear (I was someone tall).
We were there for 4 nights and we spent each day with our lovely and knowledgeable guide Paula. Our typical day was get up early, around 5.30, for breakfast and a morning excursion. Return to the lodge to relax and eat a very tasty Peruvian lunch with amazing fresh fruit juice. Later in the day we would go on another short excursion before returning for a delicious dinner. Our excursions included Caiman searching at night on the river, jungle walks, visiting mammal and macaw clay licks (more later on this), a 30m high viewing tower, eating our way through a local farmer’s fruit farm and a canoe ride around an oxbow lake.
Here are some pictures of our highlights:
Our home in the jungle Refugio Amazonas. Many of the lodges in this area are within an hour of Puerto Maldonaldo and some way from the government protected forest here. Refugio and a few others are located a few hours further down river on the buffer zone of the protected forest. The same company has one other lodge deep in the jungle which is also a research station. They were one of the first companies in the area and seem to do a lot for Eco Tourist and supporting local communities in the area.
This was more posh camping than a hotel. We had this lovely hammock, a bed with a mosquito net and a lovely hot shower. The room had no electricity and was missing (intentionally) one wall. It was sleeping in the jungle in style.
This innocently named pink toed tarantula was found near our lodge - apparently tarantulas are not poisonous. That doesn't mean I would like to wake up with one in my bed.
We saw this Ferdelance snake on the path from the lodge to the river. These are very poisonous and our guide assured us rarely seen - as she steered us well around it.
Really big butterfly (or it is a moth)
This massive beast is a scorpion spider and has one massive leg. This guy was the size of my fist (I didn't make a physical comparison, this is just an estimate).
Lovely stick insect hanging out on a leaf. We also saw lots of sticks, not pictured here.
We also saw this very poisonous coral snake on the path from our lodge to the river. Apparently we were lucky to see two such rare snakes on our trip - not everyone in the group felt that way. We eventually backed away from this guy when it turned towards us and started looking menacing - okay it always looked menacing but it definitely took on an air of attack readiness.
Em bravely overcame her vertigo to climb this 30m high viewing tower - I am not scared of heights and I felt nervous as it swayed gently in the wind.
Our lovely guide Paula and a tree that walks! In fact many trees in the amazon apparently walk like this - they are called Walking Palm trees. They walk by putting new roots down in the direction of travel and fortunately for Paula here only move at the rate of centimeters per year.
We went to visit a macaw clay lick and were rewarded with this lovely kingfisher siting. A clay lick is where mammals and birds come to lick clay. This apparently aids digestion.
We also saw a couple of macaws surveying the clay lick. These birds can get to 2m in height including their tail feathers. They are not masters of camouflage.
We saw and heard a wide variety of monkeys including this saddleback.
Finally, we celebrated our anniversary in style with a lovely cold bottle of Peruvian white wine.