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Monkeys, Mud and Jungle Life

all seasons in one day
View BrimItOn Tour on sdyzart's travel map.

With the way this honeymoon is going, I don’t think we will ever adjust to South American time, as once again we were up at the crack of dawn, this time to catch a short flight over to Puerto Maldonado to see the Amazon Jungle.

Once we landed we had to take a 25 min boat ride up river to get to our lodge and it felt like something out of Indiana Jones. It was nothing but thick jungle either side of us and a brown river in front and behind. When we arrived at our home for the next 5 days we were greeted by a series of small thatched roof huts, dotted around a central lodge and 2 noisy resident macaws.

After we dropped our bags off, there was no time to waste as we were heading into the jungle to check out the local flora and fauna. Before we get to our jungle adventures, I want to set the scene a little of the Amazon:

1) It’s wet and muddy…everywhere and all the time.
2) It’s very very humid.
3) For a hayfever sufferer (aka me), the Amazon is the equivalent to sticking your head in a giant bag of freshly cut grass and pollen.

So taking all the above into consideration, I can confirm that for the last 5 days we have looked hot stinking messes and my nose resembles Rudolphs thanks to my allergies. There is nothing glamorous about this part of our honeymoon!

Our first hike started at the back of the lodge, where we learnt about the local wildlife, dodged giant ants and saw weird and wonderful plants in including one called a Walking Tree, which actually moves so it can get more sunlight (although it only walks about 20cm per year). We also were told that there are lots of poisonous and biting things in the jungle, so we should be careful. Of course Lynden ignored this and every time I turned around he was picking something up or touching something else *sigh*. Shortly after our return at sunset, the skies opened up and it was torrential rain for the next 13 or so hours! Needless to say, we got very little sleep because the rain was so bloody loud.

On day 2 we were off in the boat at 7am in the search of monkeys! Thanks to all the rain, the jungle trek was more like a swamp hike and one serious legs workout! After just 5 minutes of hiking we came across a family of howler monkeys, curled up and sound asleep in a tree. We hiked for about an hour to get to the stream that led to a lake in the middle of the jungle but en route we saw a family of brown capuchin monkeys as well as some incredible looking butterflies in all sorts of colours. We jumped into a boat and headed through the thick over hanging jungle out to the lake and what a morning we had! We saw more brown capuchin monkeys, a family of nearly 200 squirrel monkeys, various birds and then just as we were heading back towards the stream we saw something in the water swimming towards us. It wasn’t long until our eyes adjusted and we realized it was a black caiman. To start with we were excited, but this thing didn’t stop, it swam right up to the boat and then cruised it’s way up and down checking us all out, which became very unnerving. Now when I say boat, I don’t mean speedboat or something that kept us well above the surface of the water, I mean boat as in a small canoe with 6 tourists and 3 guides sat in it. The caiman was about 2.5m long, but you could see it eyeing up each one of us as it moved along the boat. It was clearly trying to suss out how it was going to get its breakfast that morning. As we headed back towards shore (caiman in tow for at least 10 minutes) we continued to see more birds, turtles and another small group of squirrel monkeys.

It felt like we had been out all afternoon, but we were back at the lodge by midday. After lunch and a short rest, it was time to head out again, this time through the jungle to a 47m high viewing platform to spot birds. And again we weren’t disappointed. We saw vultures, a pigmy owl, a toucan, macaws, as well as various parakeets and parrots. The wildlife safari didn’t stop there either, when we got back to the lodge, we had an hour to freshen up and then it was back out on the boat at dusk to see what nocturnal creatures we could spot. Within about 5 minutes we came across a group of capybara (giant guinea pigs – the largest mammals in the Amazon), followed by white caiman and turtles. It was an exhausting day and we were sound asleep by 9pm!

Day 3 we were up at 5am and hiking into the jungle to a ‘clay lick’, which is a clay wall where the local birds go every AM to eat the clay. They do this to line their stomachs and protect them against all the poisonous berries and insects that they may eat in the Amazon. It was an amazing thing to witness, we arrived just after sunrise, when the jungle was quiet and then slowly as the sun rose we heard the jungle awake. Minute by minute more noises began and soon we started to see birds flying into the distant trees and their chirping begin. We were waiting for the dusky headed parakeet to join us and eventually after lots of chirping and flying from branch to branch they suddenly all descended on the clay lick and the noise was almost deafening. Back at the lodge we had breakfast and then were back out in the boat again, this time to a local farm where we got to try various jungle fruits, none of which we had ever heard of and most of which we didn’t like the taste of, but we did get to see a family of night monkeys curled up in a bamboo tree and hold a macaw. From there we visited a traditional Amazonian tribe, where we tried shooting a bow and arrow, attempted (and failed) to spin cotton and watched the tribe leader start a fire. By lunchtime we were exhausted and luckily there were no activities scheduled for the PM, so we did nothing for most of the afternoon and then got a massage just before dinner.

On day 4, shock horror we were up at 4.30am (they do love their early starts here) and headed out on the boat again, this time to do a tree top canopy walk. The suspension bridge to get up to the viewing platform would have failed every health and safety requirement back home. That thing was old, rickety and I seriously expected to die while I was climbing up! Luckily the death trap held out and we spent the next few hours looking out over the tops of the trees for birds and watching a very lazy family of howler monkeys sleeping (they didn’t get up until 9.30am). The canopy walk is built within an animal refuse center, so we also were able to see up close some of the animals that were in rehabilitation and waiting to be released back into the wild. It was mainly monkeys and birds but they did also have a puma – which we must have been no more than a meter away from when we got to her enclosure. She was huge and looked pretty pissed off to have us stood there looking at her. As the refuse center is in the middle of the jungle it naturally attracts wildlife (who come to steal food) so as well as the captive animals we also got to see more howlers monkeys and 2 adorable little tamarin monkeys (Lynden wanted to keep one) up close. Our afternoon was spent in the pool (even when the dark clouds rolled in and the skies opened up), we just stayed in the water and chilled and then sat at the bar with the 2 barman trying to have a conversation, even though they didn’t really speak English and we don’t really speak Spanish. BUT we were there for 2 hours attempting to talk and laughing a lot. Then just when we thought our day couldn’t get any better, our guides points out a pigmy armadillo to us, just behind our room! The jungle has seriously delivered on the animal front.

Day 5 meant it was sadly time to leave the lodge and head back to Puerto Maldonado to get our flight to Lima. Unfortunately when we arrived at the airport, the airline informed us that the flight was cancelled and in short they weren’t going to do anything about it to help us or rebook us on another flight, so we should make alternative arrangements with another airline. There are only 3 flights that leave Puerto Maldonado a day, so of course there were no seats lefts that day, which meant we were stuck in the town for a night, which was very uneventful.

Now we attempt again to take a flight back to Lima to start our 21 day group tour of Peru. Fingers crossed this flight goes ahead!

Posted by sdyzart 07:30 Archived in Peru Tagged trees animals birds monkeys honeymoon travel peru jungle amazon southamerica

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