Well, I thought I’d better write out a couple paragraphs about the rest of the trip before I forget it all. Jody and I got back safe and sound yesterday from Peru. All told, it took us just over 24 hours to get from the depths of the Jungle back to the good ole Capital City. The day started with several hours on the river in a motorized canoe, followed by hours waiting for a delayed flight in the jungle, capped off by the red-eye from Lima to Toronto, and a narrowly-caught flight back to Ottawa where bright-eyed Alix was waiting to take us home. Unfortunately, that didn’t end the journey, as we then had to drive directly out to get Jonah and back again, an extra 2+ hour trip! Needless to say, we’re a bit road-tired today, but tonight I might start checking out the 1600+ pictures we took!
When we last left you all, we were wrapping up our time in Cusco, getting ready to head out to the Jungle. Well, that night, our tour company dropped us off for a buffet dinner and tipical (sic) show. It was actually really nice. The restaurant had put out a hand-mand Canadian flag on our table, and the buffet spread was fantastic! We also got to enjoy several hours of traditional music and dances on a stage in front. It was a nice treat for our final ‘city night’.
The next day, we set out on our journey to the amazon basin. Turned out to be a bit of an ordeal. Luckily for us, our company booked us on TANS airlines, which you may know from recent news articles . What are the chances of a repeat, right? Well, very slim, considering all the extra precautions they took on flying. We were no less than 5 hours delayed in leaving Cusco, due to wind shear and other such reasons. The funny thing is, LAN had no problems filing, although they did have better planes (read: newer). We did finally get out, but the result was arriving too late in Puerto Maldonado to go to the lodge, which was 30km down the river by boat, which was too risky to do at night. So instead, a night in ‘Alcatraz’, which is what our group called the Hospedjae (hostel) that we stayed in. The rooms were like prison cells in dimension.
On the plus, we got to spend time in this, the largest jungle city of the area. Funny thing is, the city is only 30 minutes by airplane to Cusco, but by vehicle would take you 2 days!! Either way, it’s sort of bustling, and for once, not one person was bugging us to buy things or eat at their restaurant. By contrast, it took 4 of us 40 minutes just to find a place to have a beer later on. Most people just stared as if saying “What are you doing HERE?”. Next morning, we headed out early for the lodge, just to get stuck in thick fog on the river, which was too shallow to navigate safely at any speed. Ho hum. At least we finally made it.
The lodge was fantastic! Great little bungalows, a pool even! And dining hall, rec area, with some great Ping-pong action, and a bar. Scant steps away, you were thrust into the ecological diversity of the jungle, complete with all the sights and sounds. We made several different guided treks to remote bogs, lakes, and even Monkey Island (yes, full of monkeys). Here’s a partial list of what we saw:
Monkeys (4-5 different types)
Giant Anaconda (yup, from a canoe, about 6 feet away)
Caimans (several types, biggest was about 8 feel long)
Tarantulas (right at my feet, once coaxed out of his hole)
Sachavaca / Lowland Tapir
Many types of Ants (including poisonous and fire ants)
Plenty of birds
Lots o’ butterflies
The excursions all started early in the morning, but was no trouble getting up for. Holy cow, there’s no alarm quite like thousands of jungle animals all waking up at 5 am and talking to each other! I swear it was louder than any hotel or tent we stayed in during the rest of the trip! Quite a unique alarm clock actually. All in all, a very enjoyable experience. The guides were good, and it was a nice way to finish the trip, since we got some actual relaxing downtime in hammocks and such. The beer was also quite tasty. Sadly, we had to leave on day 3, and the return flight was no better than the arrival flight on TANS. Again, we had to wait about 4 hours for the plane to arrive from Cusco to the jungle. Luckily, our red-eye flight had about 7 hours of padding to accomodate any problems. Good thing too, since Air Canada only flies 3 times a week out of Lima.