After the work of hiking the Inca Trail, we decided to take a trip to the Amazon Rain Forest for the rest of our family time together. What’s a trip to South America without some time in the jungle? It was such a treat to have all five of us together–Sarah and Patrick, Uncle Charlie, Dave and me.
The biggest downer of the jungle tour was the 10-hour bus ride to get there, more than half of which was in the mountains on crazy, winding roads. Once we arrived in Puerto Maldonado, we hopped on a boat down the Madre de Dios River which took us to Tambo Jungle Lodge. All the lodges in this area can only be reached by boat, and because it was so remote, we only had electricity from 6-10 p.m. when they turned on the generator!
On our first day, we went to Monkey Island. Our guide, Alberto, seemed to know the monkeys personally! They all started coming out when he appeared with fruit. Apparently not all guides are as good as Alberto, because other groups reported actually going to Monkey Island and not seeing a single monkey! By the end of our time in the jungle, Sarah had nicknamed Alberto “Mowgli”—from the Jungle Book.
The next morning they woke us up bright and early (actually, it wasn’t bright at all… it was completely dark) to go see parrots at the “clay lick.” We rode up the river in the darkness and saw hundreds of stars without any light pollution at all. Beautiful. We arrived at the clay lick as the sun came up and the parrots fly in to feed. They actually eat the mud in these areas because it gives them minerals they need to digest plants they will eat later in the day in the jungle.
One morning we took a “canopy walk” through the tree tops. It reminded us of a ropes course… but without harnesses! We were glad for the handrails along the sides. From the top, we were able to watch for different types of animals and birds. There was also a zip-line option for more canopy time.
In the evenings, we would go for night walks. This was not always a favorite activity… walking through the hot, sticky jungle air, wearing awkward rubber boots, fighting the mosquitoes. However, we did see some cool stuff, including this giant tarantula!
Although altogether not as restful as we hoped (several very early mornings on this side trip!) our jungle time was a real treat, especially for Dave and me as it afforded us more time to hang out with family. We really had wanted to see the rain forest, but didn’t want to ride our bikes on the jungle route through Peru. This tour for us was the perfect compromise! And what better way to do it than with family?