Our very first day in Peru began bright and early with a flight from Lima to Cusco to our final destination: Puerto Maldonado – the gateway to the Amazon.  Upon landing you immediately notice the humidity, and just how green everything is.  Once at the river port we boarded a boat for a 3 hour chug up the Tambopata River, an important tributary of the Amazon.   We stayed at Posada Amazonas, an ecofriendly lodge owned by the native community of Infierno peoples.    I thought it was going to be super romantic because they had no electricity (candles only!), no walls, and lots of gauzy mosquito nets.  That, to me, sounds like a recipe for romance.  And it might have been, except after dinner we returned to the room and even in the darkness we saw them: cockroaches.  Hundreds of them.  All over our clothing, sink, walls, backpack, and toothpaste.  Every time we moved something they would come scurrying out.  It was horrifying.  We jumped into bed under our mosquito net and huddled in fear as we listened to all the strange sounds the jungle seemed to produce.

In any case, the lodge provided us with an amazing guide, Ivan, who showed us many things the jungle has to offer:

Tarantulas:

Leaf Cutter Ants:

Piranhas:

And many, many birds, including these Macaws:

On the trek we also had the priveledge to see the endangered Giant River Otter, – a family of 7 of them, in fact.  It was so exciting to be one of the few tours to spot these incredible otters.  Due to overhunting, very few of these exist in the wild.

Visiting the jungle really made me appreciate the need for conservation so that all of these amazing creatures have a safe place to live.  They really, really, don’t belong in cages or pet stores.  The variety of plants, flowers, bugs and birds is truly astounding, some of which have not even been classified by science yet.  This short jungle excursion just whet my appetite…and I hope to be able to take longer jungle trip sometime in the future.

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