Day 1 – The Arrival
We get to the airport nice and early, a couple of hours to spare before boarding. I never usually get to airports this early but we didn’t know what traffic would be like in Lima at that time and couldn’t risk it. After eating some brekky, reading and using the 30 minute capped wifi, our flight is called and we begin to board the bus that drives us to the plane (yeah, we’re flying budget). My usual routine kicks in – board, find seats and fall asleep. After a good 45 minute siesta, I wake up to find that we are still on the ground…30 minutes after the scheduled departure time of 745 am. We are told to disembark and end up waiting 3.5 hours in the airport with overpriced snacks and no wifi #firstworldproblems. We arrive just before 3pm and meet our guide for week, Neal. We drive from Iquitos to Nauta, hop on to a moto taxi to get to our boat and then travel by boat along Rivers Marañon and Ucayali. We arrive at our lodge, perfectly situated right between the jungle and the river. After dinner, we get together with Neal to plan our next few days. Daniel tells Neal that he wants to catch a huge arapaima (if you don’t know what that is, click here). Neal, in the sweetest way possible, tells him ‘no chance’.
Day 2 – Jungle Walks Galore
We wake up at 530 am and head back out on our little boat to watch the sunrise. It’s breathtaking and the definition of muy tranquilo. We continue on to some bird watching, but to be honest, I’m so tired at this point that I fall asleep mid boat ride so can’t even tell you what we supposedly saw. Oops! After brekky and another nap, we set off the jungle for our first jungle walk of the day. Neal tells us about all the different animals, bugs and a tree with super spikes on them. He tells us that we shouldn’t touch ANYTHING because spikes and fire ants are everywhere. Welcome to the jungle!
After lunch, we head back into another part of the jungle in search for a sloth. We find a yellow-footed tortoise, which is endangered, but find no sloth in over 2 hours. We decide to turn back and right at the entrance of the jungle is this gorgeous sloth up in a tree. Our boat driver, Octavio, climbs up the tree and manages to woo the sloth down to us. This is actually one of the best moments ever and I finally get to hold a sloth for the first time. You can imagine the level of excitement here! After dinner, our last activity is searching for Caiman. We’re out on the water for a while when Neal lays flat at the front of the boat, reaches into the river and grabs one out. We take some cheeky photos with the baby caiman and learn that adult caimans only come out late at night to hunt so unfortunately (but safer) for us we don’t get to see a big one.
Day 3 – Daniel finally goes fishing
Today is the day Daniel finally gets to go fishing. He’s been looking forward to this day for a while. We travel by boat for 2 hours and spot birds, monkeys and a green iguana before our arrival at Cocha Cumaceba. Daniel whips out his fishing rod whilst the boys and I fish with a bit of line attached to bamboo sticks. They have a different rule out here in the Amazon – whack the water with your bamboo rod a few times because apparently that attracts the fish. Daniel is outraged that we are disturbing the water – he says it scares all the fish away. Daniel catches his first piranha while I catch something that just gets used as bait. We leave a fishing net behind to come back to while we prepare lunch in the jungle. The guys build a fire, wrap the fish in banana leaves and cook a delicious lunch. I am convinced by this point that one of my 80 mosquito bites has given me Zika virus because I am feeling very weak, faint, dizzy and nauseas. Turns out to be hunger. We go back for the fishing net with some extra fish for dinner (unfortunately no arapaima as predicted by Neal) and then enjoy a very wet ride back to our jungle lodge.
Day 4 – Lily pads, Libertad and tarantulas
Today we are back out on the water to see the Giant Water Lily. The large leaves can grow up to 46 centimeters in size and can hold up to 136 kilograms! Neal tells us to try putting our camera on it but yeah, nah, we’re good with just knowing the stats. We believe you, Neal. We then head back for a walk through the Libertad community. One of the reasons we chose this particular lodge is because it works closely with the community right beside it so profits are used to improve facilities (such as drinking water) and to provide gifts (such as clothing) to the kids. Later that night we go ‘searching’ for tarantulas. There really isn’t much of a search because as soon as we step off the footpath, Neal spots one on the tree. He tells us that they are harmless and that we can play with them so of course, we do what anyone would do in this situation and put them on our faces.
Day 5 – Goodbye Jungle, goodbye river, goodbye mossies, goodbye Amazon
For our last day in the Amazon, we decide to go canoeing. At first, it’s a splendid idea – you know, romantically rowing down a river in the Amazon. I’m thinking like 10 – 15 mins tops. Neal and Octavio have other ideas for us. They tow a canoe to a spot around 1 hour away and this canoe mind you is tiny and very low. As soon as get into the canoe, it starts raining and it turns out that rowing is not something I am good at. With our mismatched strengths, we zig zag down the river for a good 10 minutes before I call it quits and let Daniel row alone. After half an hour, we’ve had enough and get the boys to tow us instead. This is way more fun. We should have done this instead. After a whirlwind 5 days in the Amazon we’re sad to leave. With our memories, photos and 100+ mosquito bites each, we say farewell to a very special place, a place you just have to experience for yourself to see how incredible it is. We’ll be back.
Watch some more of our Peruvian adventures here: