Jungle Fever!

Trip Start Nov 24, 2010
Trip End Sep 23, 2011

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Where I stayed
La Casa del Frances

Flag of Peru  ,
Saturday, March 26, 2011

We caught a 1 and a half hour flight from Lima to Iquitos - The jungle. As soon as we stepped off the plane we noticed two things. 1, the heat and 2, the number of insects flying around the lights in the arrivals lounge!!

We caught a taxi from the airport to our hostel and we surprised by the amount of mototaxis (tuk tuks). This is because there are hardly any cars as Iquitos is only reachable by plane or boat. We checked into our hostel then headed out for a evening meal of chicken and plantain - jungle food!!

The next morning after grappling with our mossie net for most of the night, we headed out to explore the town. It's a little bit grimy with a nice main square and river front and some slightly delapidated but still charming buildings reminiscent of the rubber boom era. We went to the only museum to discover the different tribes that live within the Amazon jungle and how each differ from the next in terms of appearance, dress (or state of undress shall we say) & tools. We got a guided tour and found it really interesting. Then we went to tourist information who were really helpful and we planned 2 jam packed days full of sightseeing. That evening we sat in the Plaza de Armas people watching and then headed to Kikirikis for more chicken, rice and chips! Delicious food and cheap to boot, one huge portion for two pounds and fifty pence.

The next day brought an early start! We decided to head off early before the day got too hot. We caught a mototaxi to a local port where we caught a peke peke boat, the only cheap way to travel to and from the villages that are dotted along the River Nanay. Our first port of call was a butterfly farm and animal rescue centre. We learnt all about the lifecycle of the butterfly and got to see some amazing species in the butterfly house. It seems a waste that something so beautiful only lives for 2-3 weeks. We also got to see some big cat species, a boa, monkeys, ant eater and a variety of birds.

Another peke peke boat to a village called Bario Florida, this time on the Amazon River. It was just how we imagined a jungle village to look and the locals were very friendly. We visited a sort of jungle garden that a local family kept open for tourists to visit. Here we hand fed Caiman and the hugest river fish we had ever seen. These creatures live in the Amazon river and it's tributaries and can grow up to 3 metres long!! This is also the place where we saw the giant lilly pads synonymous with the Amazon. The complex was so peaceful and picturesque that we hung out there as long as possible before we headed back to bustling Iquitos. 1st day in the jungle, a pretty amazing experience. That evening we frequented Kikirikis again!

On our second full day in Iquitos we didnt wake up as early as the day before so enjoyed a lie in. After a leisurely breakfast we decided to take a stroll to the area of Belem (a shanty town). They hold a market here on a daily basis and sell all kinds of products and produce, some of it legal, some not so legal! What shocked us the most was the amount of endangered/protected animal meat that was on offer, including, turtle, alligator, armadillo and monkey! We also saw jaguar skins for sale! Lisa was not too happy about this! Apparently because Iquitos is so removed from the rest of Peru, it harbors a lot more corruption, we came to the conclusion that the traders line the police palms with a bit of cash and they turn a blind eye as there were plenty of police around.

After a small snack for lunch and a brief respite from the searing heat we caught a bus and headed to a marine conservation centre where manatees are rescued, bred and released back into the wild when they reach a certain age. We are so lucky that we got to see these elusive creatures close up and Lisa was so impressed that they let her bottle feed one of the babies! Apparently the census shows that there are only 1000 of these creatures left in the Amazon. We hope the centre keeps on doing this worthwhile job! The only downside to this trip was we got savaged by rampant mosquitos! They literally wouldnt leave us alone!! 

We headed back to Iquitos in the early afternoon and decided that we would like to see more of Belem. We didnt see the floating part when we went to the market earlier that morning. A tour guide was touting for business on the street and we agreed that him and his son could take us on a tour of the floating village in their canoe. We were hoping that they wouldnt rip us off and they didnt, we paid for 1 hour and got about 2 hours. It was a fantastic way to see Belem, the sun was setting, it was lovely and warm and the village looked picturesque. The guides explained all about the area and the way of life for its inhabitants. We were a little worried for the children though that swam and played in the dirty waters, a lot of disease occurs during the rainy season apparently.

Another great day in the Amazon. We headed out for some tea and an early night as a 4.30 am start beckoned. A 10 hour trip down the Amazon River to Leticia, Colombia on a high speed boat awaited.
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