Bucket list #2 AMAZONIAN RAINFOREST
My knowledge of “darkest Peru” before the trip came courtesy of Paddington Bear, but I’m not sure even he had ventured this far into the Amazonian jungle. From Puerto Maldonado in the country’s east, a small boat took me several hours up river into the heart of the rainforest, slowing down only to point out any wildlife on the riverbanks... so a decent camera is a must. As the sun set, there was a small hike to reach the impressive eco lodge – and I don’t only mean the open air lounge and bar area! My room was open-sided, and relaxing in the hammock you literally can have the rainforest in your room. A 4.30am start to view the sunrise from above the rainforest canopy (by climbing a very high observation tower) had me a little blurry on day one, so when I awoke to what sounded like a jet engine overhead, I questioned how isolated we really were. “Ah, that’s the howler monkeys, my friend,” my expert guide explained as I searched for a caffeine hit. The jungle noises can be intense and sometimes anything but peaceful. The selection of guided tours by boat or on foot allowed me to experience so much of the rainforest, from jaguar spotting (nope, didn’t see one!), macaws and other exotic birds, giant trees, swamps, and of course my old mates, the monkeys. But my particular favourite was the night walk and an encounter with a family of tarantulas. The expert guide prodded its nest and proved there really is more wildlife than you can poke a stick at!
Howler monkeys sure do live up to their name! Sunset trips to spot wildlife on the riverbanks... no jaguars this time though. Love macaws? The rainforest delivers! You can find spiders as big as your hand in the Amazon.