Puerto Maldonado: Amazon Jungle

Flying from Lima to Cusco and Cusco to Puerto Maldonado took about 5 hours. Puerto Maldonado is about 55 miles west of the Bolivian border with a population of around 75,000 people but has had a recent influx of Venezuelan refugees.

Once at the airport I took a bus for about two hours into Inferno were I boarded a boat for a cruise up the amazon for about two hours while stopping occasionally and spotting Cayman and various other wildlife.

I did not know until later in the trip but I would learn that Inferno literally meant hell and for a long time they had a horrible problem with disease and a certain fly that would lay eggs in you and cause massive infection and death. Luckily I only suffered Mosquito bites.

I arrived at NAPE an Eco-conscious Amazon lodge, were I was met by Shirley the manager whom also did various other jobs, my guide Ederson and numerous other people from the lodge whom explained what we would be doing, rules, and things to be mindful of in the amazon; for instance very limited electricity, no hot water, no putting toilet paper in the toilet but in the garbage can next to the toilet (that takes some time to get use to) no phone, no WiFi, no Internet, no TV and all the other modern gadgets we rely on for communication and entertainment. I was actually thankful its one of the reason I came to Peru was to unplug and listen to my mind and nature. I was given keys to my hut and proceeded down the pass to go check it out unpack and relax a bit before lunch. The hut was really amazing crafted from beautiful wood resourced from trees that had fallen in the jungle. It had three walls with and small bathroom, nice bed with mosquito net, open porch with a roof, and a hammock,

After relaxing, taking a refreshing cold shower, and unpacking some gear I heading back to the main lodge to meet the crew for lunch and to go over the plan for the day. The food was always really good and fresh. For lunch it was a very nice selection of chicken or local catfish, vegetables, rice, pasta, quinoa, potatoes (by the way there are over 1000 types of potatoes in Peru) various fresh juices, teas, beer, passion fruit pisco, coffee and water,

Ederson took us a short walk around the ground talked about the history and culture in the amazon as well as some of the local flora and fauna. He was extremely knowledgeable in all aspects of the Amazon and many other things, He introduced us to the local Shaman whom I would get to spend time with the following day. They were great men and I respect them both very much.

I Had some free time before dinner so I relaxed in the hammock and listened to the jungle while digesting my trip to that point. I came to some realizations about life, happiness, and felt blessed to me there.

We met for dinner before we headed to the observation tower in the middle of the Amazon. The observation tower was about an hour hike and stood about 100 ft high. I felt it was safe and proceeded to the top. It was quite a trip up the steps as the tower swayed and wobbled considerably. Once at the top you could see for miles nothing but amazon jungle as far as the eye could see. We watched the sun set and saw Macaws, parakeets, many other birds, and wildlife.

I headed back to hut to prepare for the night Trek through the Amazon. Loaded up my backpack put on  Long sleeves shirt with hood, pants, mosquito repellent, hankechirf, buff, headlamp, hat and went to meet Ederson and the crew. We Headed out into the jungle headlamp blazing. Ederson was extremely aware and knew exactly what to look for as we begin spotting nocturnal animals in the dense jungle. We spotted tarantulas, orb weaver spiders, various rodents, bats, and amphibians. The shear sounds and intensity of the Amazon jungle are overwhelming for someone whom has never spent time there. We walked for a few hours until it was time to head back to camp as you walked down the trail you could see thousands of eyes as Ederson explained they were mostly all spiders and stopped and used a stick to coax a tarantula out of its den

When we got back to the Lodge we decided to have some drinks before bed although we had to be up at 5:00AM to head out onto the Amazon? Shirley made me my first passion fruit pisco which I must say was the best and we talked as for a while as she explained about the lodge, the problem with plastic in Peru, and about her hometown Puerto Maldonado.

The next morning I got up and headed to breakfast before trekking through the jungle getting on a boat and heading out onto the Amazon. As we motored out we spotted black Cayman, white Cayman, turtles, Capybara and went to watch Parakeets and Macaws feed on the salt clay.  We headed down river for about an hour before docking and jumping of to head to Tres Chimbadas lake to see wildlife. We trekked through the amazon for about an hour passing local villages until we reached the lake. We boarded a pontoon boat with no motor because they are not allowed due to a protected family of otters on the lake and other wildlife. We spent about 3 hours on the lake spotting a variety of birds and other wildlife. We also got an opportunity to fish for Piranha which is challenging. I did not catch any but Ederson did. We headed back to shore as the sun began to approach full intensity.

Once back at the lodge I walked to my hut and got ready to meet Ederson. We once again headed out into the jungle for an education on plant medicine and an opportunity to spend time with the local shaman. We spent time walking through the jungle looking at different plants and learning about their healing properties, how they are prepared, and what they are used for. We headed back to the Shamans hut were we did various plant medicines and had an opportunity to experience the healing properties of these jungle medicines and meditate.

After dinner and I prepared for the boat ride up the amazon at night. After hiking through the jungle and getting to our boat we headed out. With Ederson on the bow handling the spotlight and another guide in back steering the outboard motor we took off. The skill and instinct they handled the boat with in pitch black was incredible. We spotted various Cayman and other wildlife which was absolutely amazing. But the thing that touched me the most was the sky. I have never in my life seen stars like on the amazon at night it was breathtaking you could see the milky way and it seemed like a million stars with a darkness behind them I have never experienced..

The Amazon Jungle was an adventure I will never forget and one of the highlights of my trip . I plan on going back very soon. I met a lot of amazing people with vast knowledge of the Amazon.

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