Jacada Travel (020 7619 1380; jacadatravel.com) can include one night at Inkaterra Guides Field Station as part of its Inca Trail and Amazon Tour, which also includes stays in Lima, Cusco (for Machu Picchu) and at Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica, a few minutes’ boat ride from the field station; the package costs from £4,700 per person, excluding international flights. Longer stays at Inkaterra Guides Field Station (inkaterra.com) start at £250 for four nights. planted at 16ft intervals with food crops growing in between. These included uncucha (a type of potato), frejol (beans), zapallo (pumpkin) and pepinillo (gherkin).
The genius of the project is that each plot is small enough for the children to maintain themselves. “This is a community which in the past destroyed the forest,” said Jan, “but now they are preserving it – and this is a model that can be replicated. Others can copy it with different crops which they want to eat.”
I pondered this over quinoa pancakes the next morning in the plusher surroundings of Inkaterra Hacienda Concepcion, a second property a short motor west along the Madre de Dios river. From there I struck out with guide Juvenal Quispe Ccohaquira on my final outing. On the forest trail to Sandoval Lake, Juvenal halted us in our tracks. There in the mud was a print left by a jaguar. “It was here a few hours ago,” said Juvenal, raising the possibility of a sighting.
It was not to be, but what happened next was almost as rewarding. First, we heard a noise like the whine of a jet engine, rising to a crescendo. “Howler monkeys,” Juvenal said, but we were heading in the opposite direction. As we walked along a forest trail, a rustling in the treetops swelled to a cacophony and hundreds of squirrel monkeys swept overhead. Some feasted a few feet from us. Then came brown capuchin monkeys, with stronger jaws capable of breaking open fruit which the squirrel monkeys scavenge. For half an hour I stood with primates chattering around me. This was my David Attenborough moment.