The jungle was incredible!!! I still can´t believe that I was in the Amazon!!! It was so nice to be outdoors for awhile, not worrying about who was going to try to steal my stuff, ask me to to buy something, or rip me off. The jungle is much more my thing!
I´m going to write some today & some tomorrow. First off, I saw & heard so many animals! Tons of different birds: parrots, parakeets, macaw, hawks, condors, kestrels, herons, and many that I can´t remember the name of. And many of the ones I listed, I saw & heard many different kinds of. I also saw & heard lots of monkeys: spider monkey, squirrel monkey, night monkey, howler monkey, and some I don´t remember the names of. Have you ever heard a howler monkey? They make the most bizarre & cool sound I have ever heard from an animal! I had no idea what it was when I heard it. I thought a small airplane was about to fly overhead! It was so loud! And they were close-by, so I got to see them, too! Then there were lizards, turtles, caimen, lots of different kinds of ants, flowers, trees, plants, spiders, butterflies, moths, and many other things! It is so peaceful in the jungle, yet so loud!
Day 1: I got picked up & brought 40 minutes by boat down the Rio Madre de Dios (Mother of the Gods River) to my lodge. The boat was like a really big canoe with benches along the two sides and a covering over the top. The engines for the boats around here are like a regular motor boat, on the top, but then they have a long pole-looking thing that goes way down to the propellers. The driver pushes that thing side to side to steer & can pick it up out of the water.
My guide, Benito, took me on a private walk in the jungle behind the lodge. I saw a huge fig tree! And it was a small one! They can get to be 18 meters around & this one was only about 10 meters around...which is still huge! There is a cool palm called a walking palm that has these really long roots that are exposed. I saw all kinds of things.
I had a delicious lunch that was wrapped in some sort of huge leaf. Then they have ¨resting time.¨Which, later, I realized is because they usually get you up so early that you need a nap. Also, it´s so hot for you & the animals. So the hikes are often early & late in the day.
My group consisted on myself & a woman, Kathy, who is from Boston, but now lives in Florida. She has traveled all over & lived in many countries through working with Club Med & teaching overseas. She was a pretty cool woman. And the only other person in my group! It was so cool to only have 2 people & one guide!
That evening, we went to Monkey Island a little before dark. We took the boat, then hiked inland on this island for a short while. There was a whole monkey family there! They were so cute! For those of you who don´t know, since I was quite little, I have had a love for monkeys and chimpanzees. So it was exciting to see them! They are used to people, so the guides fed them fruit. It was cute: they would throw the fruit to the monkey & he would take off. Eventually they took it from the guide´s hand! They made cool sounds, too.
After that, we went looking for caimen on the boat. The sun went down & the full moon came up while we were on the river...wow! How amazing is that! It was so beautiful! The guide used a spotlight to catch a sight of caimen and to catch the red glow from their eyes. We saw a bunch, which was cool. They are in the alligator family, but usually smaller.
Day 2: We got up really early to hike out to Sandoval Lake, which is an ox-bow lake that has giant otters. We were up at something like 5 AM, then took the boat to the trail that brought us 5 km to this lake in the Tambopata National Reserve. We saw all kinds of wildlife along the way & heard so many cool sounds. The jungle is so beautiful! When we got to the lake, we got into a big canoe & our guide paddled us around for hours. We only got a distant glimpse of the otters before they went in for the day :( It was super-hot that day, so I don´t blame them. I got really overheated & didn´t feel great for awhile by the end. On the lake, we did see lots of different birds, caimen, tutles, and monkies.
We went back to the lodge for lunch & our afternoon break, which I slept for part of! That night, we went for a dusk/dark hike behind the lodge. Again, we saw lots of birds & animals. Lots of ants, frogs, and spiders, too.
Each night, I slept so soundly out in the jungle! It´s so peaceful. I had a whole bungalow all to myself with screened windows all around. I had mosquito-netting around me at night, which made me feel like a princess :) So did the guide paddling us around on the lake :)
Alright, that´s enough for now. I´ll finish writing about the jungle tomorrow when I return to Cuzco for the day. I love the comments...keep writing! And Jason, I hear soccer here everywhere I go...even the jungle!