I have been wanting to go to Peru for years, but when I made the decision that I was actually going, I started looking into what Peru had to offer beyond Machu Picchu. I then discovered that part of the Amazon was in Peru... it stretches almost all along the east side of Peru. I told John that we had to go... and we had to go to Puerto Maldonado. Why? Because Maldonado is John's last name. I thought that was pretty sweet, so we put that into our plans.
We got to Puerto Maldonado after a 10 + hour overnight bus ride from Cusco. It was our first over night bus ride and I have to say it was pretty miserable. It went from cold to hot and muggy and smelly and took longer than it was supposed to. However, we survived and we got there. We were not in the city of Puerto Maldonado... just long enough to grab some breakfast see the biggest bridge in South America (like the mini golden gate) and then get on an hour-ish boat ride that was going to take us out in the middle of the Amazon jungle. PS Don't mind me looking gross. Hard to look good when it is so hot and humid. Pretty sure I didn't take one good picture the entire time we were in the Amazon. Oh well.
We arrived at the Monte Amazonico Lodge. This is where we would be staying for the next few days. It was like a small camp in the middle of the jungle. There was a dining area where they would serve us all of our meals and then there were a handful of small lodges that were almost like bungalows where everyone stayed. They were very simple lodges. No glass or shutters over the windows... just big open windows covered by a screen. No hot water.. just one knob in the shower (cold) and the electricity was run by a generator from 5:30-10pm. Just a bed with a mosquito net over it... which you needed big time. John and I got eaten alive in the Amazon! I actually kind of loved it. Not the bites... being out in the middle of the jungle. It was really peaceful. Thank goodness it cooled down at night because it was VERY hot and humid there.
We were pretty much with the same people the entire time we were there. A family from Missouri a couple from Ireland/England that met while traveling and were now on their honeymoon 7 years later AND these two cute girls. They were fun. One was from Ohio.... I think and the other from Australia... they met up to travel South America together for a few months.
We really liked how this tour was set up. You paid for the food and lodge and activities... but they had a variety of activities to choose from... you could do them or not. Your choice. If you wanted to do any of the activities, they told you when to show up. Some of the activities we did we had to leave the place that we were staying.... but here are some of the things we did right at the lodge.
We got a tour of the jungle where we learned about different plants and trees and what they are used for. We also drank from roots and John climbed a vine.
And I became an Amazon Princess.
We went on night adventures where we looked for Caiman's (Alligators) and spiders and we even found an awesome boa constrictor.
They had a zip line and canopy at the lodge, so John and I climbed up and crossed the canopy (that was scary for me since I am afraid of heights) and we watched the sunset from the top of the trees 135 ft off the ground. It was beautiful.
We also did activities away from our lodge. We would get on the boat and they would take us to different parts of the jungle. John and I went fishing with a group (I was the only girl). John had his heart set on catching a Piranha and eating it... but nobody caught one of those. They didn't take us to the right spot for that. It's too bad, I had watched some River Monsters before I came to prepare. I caught a few fish... I think they were all catfish, but I still felt legit. One because I was the only girl there and one of the first (if not the first) to catch a fish. Two because all they gave us was a stick with a line with a hook at the bottom. No fishing poles. Makes things a little more challenging. It was fun. I enjoy fishing... especially when I catch something. I'm just living up to my membership in the Bass Slayers club (that I joined when I went fishing in Indiana).
We also went to Sandoval Lake. It was beautiful... and quite the trek to get there. They provide rain boots when you are trekking through the jungle... and for good reason. It took a while to get there because it was over a mile hike in mud, sometimes very deep puddles of mud. I would get stuck in it often. The entire time I was slowing walking through all the mud, I was thinking of Never Ending Story... when he was going through the swamp of sadness. Ha ha... Artex died there. Don't think that didn't cross my mind when I kept getting stuck in the mud.
We made it through the mud and to the river, where we would get on a canoe to go explore the beautiful lake. It was very peaceful. We looked for animals while we sat. We saw a black caiman and lots of birds... especially "the stinky bird" as they call it. No otters though... I was a little disappointed about that. Still, it was beautiful. We stopped somewhere and got out for a rest and a snack. Then we headed back in the canoe. Just as we were getting close to where we first got in the canoe... there was a MAJOR downpour. Thank goodness John had an extra rain poncho for me to quickly put on. It was pretty amazing. You could see the rain getting closer and closer before it hit us hard. We were all pretty soaked... and then it made even more of a muddy trail for us to hike back in. What a day!
We visited Monkey Island. Which was cool...
But we thought playing with the baby monkey's that lived at the lodge was WAY more fun. We had a lot of fun especially with the baby spider monkey. I loved the baby Squirrel monkey too though. They also had a Macaw that lived there.
That pretty much concludes our Amazon experience. We loved being there for a few days. We were ready to leave after 3 days though. Get out of the sticky heat... away from the bugs. We took the hour boat ride back to Puerto Maldonado and then back on another All nighter bus. So glad we spent a few days in the Amazon. What a beautiful place!