When we were planning our last big trip, we instantly knew it’d be in South America, but we weren’t exactly sure what country we’d visit. We did A LOT of research and finally decided we’d visit Peru. It seemed to have the most bang for our buck (and time) when it came to fitting in as much as humanly possible (we tend to do that).
One day, Will prompted me with the option of seeing the Amazon Rainforest. Immediately, I was intrigued, but also a bit frightened. “You want me to stay in a jungle?” I thought. “In a hut, with 100% humidity, surrounded by trees and wildlife with no connection to the outside world?” Some people would hear this and instantly think it a dream, being disconnected from the world, but me, I was a little taken aback and downright worried. Going to the jungle meant I had to leave my comfort zone, completely.
Long story short. We did it.
We ended up booking a trip that would allow us to visit the Amazon Rainforest, as well as Cusco, Macchu Picchu, and Lima [I’ll save those for another post]. We’ve always planned our trips ourselves, but this time we worked with Southern Explorations and they were awesome! Everything was flawless and they were a HUGE help with decision making.
We arrived to Puerto Maldonado and were instantly greeted by heat, humidity and, thankfully, our guide with a bus full of iced water bottles. I had neverbeenso thirsty. We said good-bye to our luggage, all except what we could fit in a small pack on our backs. We then hopped aboard a motorized canoe and made our way 30 minutes down the Madre De Dios River to our accommodations. We stayed at the Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica Lodge.
They weren’t kidding when they said we’d be in the middle of the jungle. Lush trees canopied over us as we walked along the tree-stump lined path, while wildlife went on about its business around us. We were taken to our cabins, each couple had their own, and it was legitimately a hut with screened in doors and windows, a bed with a draped mosquito net, a shower and toilet. Immediately, I thought “what did I get myself into…” And then I told myself to just let go…and let go I did.
The lodge blew me away. Although they were smack dab in the middle of a jungle, they provided 5 star service and food. Three meals a day, each morning a buffet of local delights, while lunch and dinner were plated meals selected from the various menu options. The Main Hall also had a fully stocked bar, where the Pisco Sours were on point. They offered several varieties. However, I fell in love with the Chilcano, the Peruvian version of a Moscow Mule, a mix of pisco, lime juice and ginger ale.
There was no internet connection at the lodge, and for someone who is completely connected, it took some getting used to. But by the end, I didn’t even want to see my phone again. I spent quality time in the here and now and truly connected with those around us. We met so many great people, staff and guests alike. It started to feel like a family. We did most of the excursions with the same couple and always saw familiar faces in the main hall at meal time.
The cabins grew on me. Laying in the hammocks, looking out over the river, hearing nothing but the wildlife around me, it was peaceful. It turned out to be such a spiritual experience. Granted, nights were still a little rough being that it was 80 degrees, and we were sleeping with nets over us to protect from mosquitos. But soon morning came and we were greeted with some of the most amazing sunrises I had ever seen; it was worth it.
The lodge offered 12-15 excursions for people to pick from based on activity level. There were serveral guides at the lodge who stayed with the same guests for most of the trip. Alberto and Michael were our guides for all of the excursions. We did SO much in the 3 full days we spent in the jungle. There was absolutely no shortage of things to do. We were exhausted by the end of every night.
Lake Sandoval – We hiked 2 miles each way, mud up to our knees in 100 degree weather and we had to cover up or else the mosquitos would tear us to shreds. Sounds awful right? Well partly it was, but reaching Lake Sandoval was such a reward. We canoed out to a spot on the lake and saw a family of otters playing and catching fish, saw at least 100 howler monkeys playing on the vines in the jungle, and colorful macaws flying overhead. It was like nothing I’ve ever seen. Sure, you see wildlife in the zoo, but this wasn’t the zoo, this was wildlife in its own habitat.
Canopy Tour – We climbed a 95 foot tower and trekked all along the treetops via suspension bridges, connecting 8 platforms. The views from above were outstanding and we learned a lot from Alberto along the way.
Piranha Fishing – By far my favorite excursion. This one takes a full day, but well worth it. We were taken out by boat approximately 2 hours from the lodge. Here, we picked up our stick fishing rods and immediately started fishing for piranha. We caught a few right away! The guide took us to different spots on the lake to try our luck. Every hour, our guide would take us over to a spot in the jungle to drop off the piranha we had caught. After several hours of fishing, he took us to that same spot where a chef had prepared a full spread of food and wine, including the piranha we caught! What a cool experience! On the way home from this trip, we stopped by a village and dropped off all the leftover food and drink we had to locals who seemed to expect this. I had a lot of respect for the lodge to not waste these leftovers and share them with the community.
Rainforest By Night – Let me start out by saying this was NOT my favorite excursion. It was pitch black, we were following a guide into the depths of the jungle with only flashlights while he pointed out tarantulas, other big spiders, scorpions, the list goes on. While I didn’t necessarily enjoy the sights of this one, there was still something surreal about being in a jungle at night surrounded by all the wildlife that wakes up after dark.
After surviving the Amazon Rainforest, I felt so proud! I stepped out of my comfort zone and was handsomely rewarded. It was truly one of the best experiences I’ve had to date. I plan to write another post of what I packed on my trip, what worked and what didn’t, stay tuned. In the meantime, here are a few other beauties.
We went during the beginning of dry season, so we had great weather all 3 days. However, the day we were leaving, it poured. But, you have to admit, rain truly is beautiful in the Rainforest.