The Amazon Rainforest

After the flat grey skies of Lima it was very pleasant to feel the warm sun on our limbs as we stepped off the plane at Puerto Maldonado, capital of Perú’s rainforest region. A short bus ride took us to the Madre Dios river, tributary to the mighty Amazon, and from there a motorised canoe conveyed us to our jungle lodge accommodation.

Lucy, our enthusiastic and highly knowledgeable guide, then introduced us to the rainforest pointing out the medicinal properties of the various plants (we got to test out the natural local anaesthetic which was fun!) and showed us which trees would bring forth an army of poisonous ants if touched. The lodge’s limited supply of electricity meant lights out at 10:30 but everyone was keen on an early night anyway after being told that at 5:30 the next morning we would be walking out to see grey headed parakeets.

On schedule, fuelled by just one cup of instant coffee, we were the first group to arrive at the bird watching hide and settled into the best seats. The parakeets come to eat the clay (it helps their digestion apparently) but a squirrel in the tree near the feeding area meant an hours wait before the flock felt safe enough to come down but fortunately for us they did eventually make an appearance.

After our own breakfast there was an hour of free time before our next adventure. Having expected (and packed for) the jungle to be hot, the overnight temperature had been very low so this was a good opportunity to relax and warm up in the morning sunshine. There were also four beautiful macaws, two red and two blue, to watch and photograph.

Sadly no monkeys came out to see us during our visit to “Monkey Island” although the hordes of large multicoloured butterflies were beautiful. An hour walk through the rainforest took us to lake Sandoval, a classic “horseshoe” lake formed from the rivers meandering bends, exactly as described in the school geography textbook. We toured the lake by canoe and saw a whole host of wildlife: birds, river otters, circling vultures high above us, a black caiman in the distance (same family as the crocodile so the distance was probably a good thing) and a solitary monkey (at last!).

After a long day and a long walk the hammock on the veranda of our cabin was a very comfortable place to rest our weary limbs. If only we had space for one at home!