Welcome to the Jungle

The second part of our trip to Peru was something like we've never experienced before.

We'd all been to many exotic locations--but mostly gorgeous island type destinations, and several places in South & Central America. We knew as we were planning our trip that we each wanted to see the Amazon Rainforest, so of course we had to do it right.

We were excited to book a place called Amazonian Eco Lodge--but we had no idea what that really meant.

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We saw photos of this beautiful lodge and read about the cultural culinary experience we'd get three times a day which was included in our stay. All three of us were very busy so we said "good reviews, great price, gorgeous photos, booked." and kept on going with the rest of our planning.

Don't get me wrong, I know this already sounds like we made a huge mistake. Though the details turned out to be a little different than we initially thought--we actually booked one of the coolest experiences either of us had in our world travels to date.

After taking a motor boat 30 minutes down the Amazon River from the nearest town that we flew into, we arrived at the Eco Lodge and got the grand tour.

 The boat ride from Puerto Maldonado to our lodge right on the river

The boat ride from Puerto Maldonado to our lodge right on the river

                                                                                                                                        

Picturesquely pruned grounds with many types of exotic plants that are native only to that area, the glimmering pool fully screened (yes, rainforest=lots of bugs) and of course our lodge. Which was *enormous* by the standards of my Brooklyn studio, and fairly bare but still had all the rudimentary needs.

 Our Hut

Our Hut

 

"Hot water is from 9-10 pm, and 7-10 am. Electricity is from 8-11pm" our tour guide told us as he waved goodbye until dinner.

All three of us looked at each other with big eyes, knowing we couldn't let our "gringa" show to the owner who just dropped that bomb on us. 

That afternoon, we got an intimate tour of the rainforest surrounding us including the bugs, types of trees (one which had "legs" and "walks") and learned how to recognize birds by their sounds.

We got to taste fruit right off of the trees and watched small alligators swim in a nearby pond.

      

 Cocoa Bean right off of a tree

Cocoa Bean right off of a tree

 The "walking" tree has roots that migrate, moving the entire tree several inches per year

The "walking" tree has roots that migrate, moving the entire tree several inches per year

 

The next day we had a similar tour but part of it was in a boat so we could get an up close look at the thriving eco system of a larger pond nearby. This particular pond had a lot of clay like dirt which gave it this beautiful rich red color. We went pretty deep into the jungle to get there, and encountered some howler monkeys which were fascinating, but I don't think that's how they felt about us. 

 

 Ecological Pond Tour

Ecological Pond Tour

 

 

And by the way, the Amazon Rainforest has -killer- sunsets. Like nothing we've seen before.

 

 Sunset over the Amazon River

Sunset over the Amazon River

 

 

The next day we went by boat to Monkey Island. And it's population--which is not very small--is monkeys only. 

                                                                                                                                        

 Monkeys of Monkey Island

Monkeys of Monkey Island

 

We fed them bananas out of our hands, hid our water bottles because they prefer filtered water, and observed this wild family jump around our heads and interact with each other for over an hour. The island itself had a beautiful marsh, and we had to take the boat once again to get to it.

 

 Marshes of Monkey Island

Marshes of Monkey Island

  

 

The last full day we were there was actually Thanksgiving. The perfect day to take a break from tours in the sweltering jungle heat and catch a little R&R in the hammocks by the river. And when sunlight ran out, we had ping pong, darts, and a pool table in the bar area to have fun and chat with other lodge guests over Pisco Sours.

 

 Hammocks overlooking the Amazon River

Hammocks overlooking the Amazon River

 

It was hot, there were a lot of bugs, and we had no hot water or electricity for most of the trip--but it was amazing and we loved every moment of it. I highly recommend an experience like this at least once in your life. I can't fully convey how much our respect has grown for the environment after everything we learned during those jungle tours.

Feel free to reach out for details on where we stayed, and comment below to let us know if you've been or are thinking of going!

Alexandra Schmidbauer