Peru 2005 Day Four: Peruvian Amazon

by Kara on July 25, 2005

We got up early and met Vanessa for our trip to the airport for our TANS Air flight to Puerto Maldonado. The flight isn’t that long, but it stops in Cusco, which slows things down. When we arrived at the Puerto Maldonado airport, we saw that you could buy a yellow fever vaccination as soon as you got off the plane if you needed it (we had ours already).

Taxis in Puerto Maldonado. Notice that the taxi drivers have helmets but their customers don't.

Taxis in Puerto Maldonado. Notice that the taxi drivers have helmets but their customers don't.

We met our rep from Reserva Amazonica and headed across town to the dock. The town was FULL of little motorbikes, and we learned that these were actually taxis. We saw one with two adults and three kids! Our lodge was about an hour down the Madre de Dios River (a tributary of the Amazon) from Puerto Maldonado. By a stroke of luck, the weather had cooled off the day before we arrived and the jungle was not sweltering while we were there, as we had expected. The temperature was pretty much perfect.
We took a boat just like this one to Reserva Amazonica.

We took a boat just like this one to Reserva Amazonica.


The cabanas where we stayed were quite nice, with running water and (cold) showers. There is no electricity in them, so the lodge provided kerosene lanterns. Luckily, we had also brought headlamps, which proved quite useful. Lunch was served as soon as we arrived. One thing I quickly learned about the cooks at the lodge is that they like to use cilantro in just about everything, and cilantro is the one food I fear above all others. It has such a strong taste to me that I can detect trace amounts in any dish. Happily, whatever spices they used at the lodge managed to totally disguise the cilantro taste so I did not have to starve during our time there.

We were supposed to have eight people in our little activity group, but one couple got booted from their plane (which we soon learned was a common occurrence) and didn’t make it until late the next day. And it was their honeymoon too! There was actually another honeymooning couple in our group as well – we met a lot of people in Peru who were either honeymooning or celebrating an anniversary.

This is an agouti - an extremely large rodent. He looks small here, but these guys can be more than 20 inches long and weigh up to eight pounds.

This is an agouti - an extremely large rodent. He looks small here, but these guys can be more than 20 inches long and weigh up to eight pounds.

After dinner, we took a short hike through the jungle to Canopy Inkaterra, which is a series of suspension bridges at the canopy level of the trees. In three days, it was scheduled to be closed, and upon reopening a week later they were going to start charging $55 per person for the canopy walk. Luckily, we got to do it for free. I don’t recall ever having been afraid of heights as a child, but I have certainly developed a fear in the past few years. The bridges were about 35 meters (113 feet) off the ground. That’s really high. Take my word for it. They didn’t feel stable at all (they were pretty safe, but it just didn’t feel that way), and some were quite long. I just tightly gripped the rope railings and kept my eyes glued on the end of each bridge. Afterwards, I felt as if I had run a marathon – probably because I didn’t breathe the whole time. Stephen got a lovely picture of me traversing a bridge with a frozen smile on my face. Yep, pure terror!

Earlier we saw a funny little animal (about the size of a big cat) that looked like a miniature capybara. It turned out to be an agouti, and they were plentiful in the area, though we never managed to get a very good picture.

This is the humongous spider we found in our cabin.

This is the humongous spider we found in our cabin.

We were just about ready to get into bed that night, when Stephen looked up from brushing his teeth and saw a gigantic spider on the wall. If there’s one thing that scares me more than cilantro, it’s spiders! It was about the size of a tarantula, but grey and not hairy. I went to find help while Stephen took pictures (of course). The moment I walked back into the cabana with a staff member the spider crawled behind the bathroom mirror and we were never able to locate it again to usher it outside. A short while later, I saw two giant cockroaches, but I barely batted an eye at them after encountering the giant evil killer spider. Luckily, there was a thick cottony mosquito net covering the bed, or I never would have gotten myself in bed in that cabana. I ended up lying awake much of the night listening to critters skulk about outside.

Check out more of Stephen’s pictures of Peru.

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