The Amazon Rainforest Day One

By Issy Goode - 20:27

To talk you through my whole 15 days in Peru would leave both you and I overwhelmed. I'm still piecing together the whole experience myself and trying to find my way back into reality after a busy, wonderful and fulfilling holiday. I'd only been abroad, prior to Peru, twice in my life. Travelling has always appealed to me but when I lived in Gloucestershire our holidays took us down to Cornwall, and by the age of 7 we moved there to call Cornwall home. Our family couldn't afford the luxury of holidays abroad and we were ok with that. 

But now, I can afford my own holidays and without three children in tow, my parents can also afford their own.

So, Peru, my third big holiday abroad and my first opportunity to experience an adventurous and challenging guided tour across several cities and towns, the Amazon, the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu and Lake Titicaca. 

But before I begin, I have to commend Exodus and our tour guide Bobby, on the incredible organisation of this tour. Bobby in particular had to respond quickly to numerous challenges along our trip, including teacher strikes, miner strikes and a forest fire, and he did so without sacrificing our experience. Admittedly we had to rush on occasions and leave places faster than we would have liked, but he worked tirelessly to ensure the little blips didn't spoil where we were headed next.

I can't thank him enough for the wonderful experience. 

So, first up...the Amazon!
Day One (day two of actual trip)

On our first day in Peru we arrived in Lima and had very little time to explore the city, with jet lag dragging us into our hotel beds and an early wake up call the next day encouraging us to start our exploration of Peru. We took a bus to the airport and set off on our way to Puerto Maldonado.
We didn't see much of the city but passing through in our bus we saw some incredible statues on the roundabouts. In Lima and later in Cusco, it became clear to us that Peru are big on statues - and despite the glared picture we took, how awesome is this one?!
Upon arrival at the Puerto Maldonado airport we were immediately blown away by the sheer heat and humidity of the Amazon. This city was only a stopover, where we left our main suitcases behind in the offices of Cayman Lodge and headed by bus towards our next mode of transport. We took our now reduced baggage and boarded a very rickety boat, to speed down the river towards the Tambopata National Reserve.

We were given a lunch made by the lodge where we were headed to of rice and chicken wrapped in a banana leaf. The boat moved at a slow pace whilst we all munched down our delicious food and once we'd finished, the boat sped off. We barely even noticed the near two hours it took to arrive at our lodge. There was just so much to see. 

The surroundings of the river were what I imagined and more. We've all seen the Amazon on television but its sheer size when you see it in person is just overwhelming. The width of the river, the height of the trees, even the size of the wildlife. You can see capybara in most zoo's in the UK, but to see a family of them up close and in the wild is a completely different experience. There was a sense of peace I felt, seeing them in the wild rather than caged behind a fence, in an enclosure much too small. Along the journey we spotted plenty of capybara families, white caymans basking in the last hour of the sun light, birds of many varieties and a cow, which for some reason I didn't expect, but it was there nonetheless.  
A cute capybara family
Passing by other lodges - we were told many were for tourists but there were still families living in the area too
A white cayman taking a break
We arrived at our lodge close to sunset, and what an incredible place it was. We stayed at Cayman Lodge Amazonie - there were many lodges all along the river, but this had been selected and booked by our tour company Exodus. I can't say anything about the other lodges as we only saw them from afar, but this place was very peaceful and we all felt so at home. We were shown around the camp ever so briefly before being shown to our own lodge. As a group of nine we were shown to a big lodge with four separate rooms. Michael and I had our own room, then Kate and Natalie, two solo travellers, were in the next room and the family of five, Martin, Annette, Stanza, Mirren and Megan were spilt between the final two rooms. Whilst the rooms were separate we didn't actually have ceilings. The roof arched high above the walls and a mosquito net covered the rooms, meaning we could quite easily converse between rooms and we all heard the squeals of the individuals who braved the ice cold showers.
The walkway to our paradise 
We missed the actual sunset, but we still had many beautiful views of the sun glistening on the river
The sun setting on our first night in the Amazon  
This boat is very similar to ours - it doesn't look like it'd be rickety, but at the speed it went it certainly felt it! 
The walkway to the Hammock Lodge 
Our walkway from our lodge back to the dining hall and the bar
That evening, our tour guide for the Amazon, Frank, took us into the rainforest for a night walk. Our head torches were secured in place, we were wrapped up warm as the temperature drops quite noticeably at night (at least it did for me because I'm always cold!), and Frank had a machete, just in case. We felt very safe, as you would expect. The route we were taking was well maintained by the camp and a route that was no doubt specifically created to pass by many creatures and critters that had created themselves a nice habitat within the rainforest. Michael was more up for being let loose in the rainforest, but the lodge did give you a sense that the rainforest was much safer than you thought. Had we not had two guides who were armed not only with machetes but also with sensational knowledge of the area and the wildlife within it, we wouldn't have felt quite the same.  

Here's just a few of the creatures we saw:
In fact, there was so much to see we couldn't photograph it all and we all felt a bit intrusive with our flashes as it was so dark (plus it was very hard to use the focus properly on our camera!). We saw two tarantulas, one with her babies, a millipede, ants and spiders galore, moths and resting butterflies and so many little insects I've never seen in my life before. It was truly incredible. Frank brought us to a stop and asked that we all turn off our head torches, so we stood there in the pitch black of the Amazon Rainforest and he told us to look up and listen to the noises around us. There wasn't any light pollution and the stars illuminated the sky, and there was no man made noise, just the sound of the animals surrounding us. It was probably the most peaceful moment I've experienced.

After our journey through the rainforest, we made our way safely back to the main lodge for dinner and a drink at the bar should we so wish. I didn't polish off any cocktails until the second night, but hands down, they were the best cocktails I have ever tasted.

We headed back to our bedroom lodges for an early night, ready for an early wake up call to continue exploring. Come back next time to hear about pitch black boat rides, searching for a jaguar and birds that are more majestic and colourful than Austin Powers. 
MissIsGoode

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