In the jungle

Trip Start Nov 20, 2006
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Trip End Jun 27, 2007


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Sunday, May 27, 2007

Our trip to the Amazon started with a very quick 30min flight descending from 3700m to just 300m. It was so much more comfortable being at a lower altitude and really good to be able to walk up a flight of stairs without getting out of breath. We had a very quick trip to the market to buy an emergency bikini for Sonia who had lost hers. Not having the most extensive range she came away with a lovely orange and black floral number. It was a 3 hour boat trip down the river to our jungle lodge. The lodge was fantastic, all made of natural materials to blend in with the jungle. Matt and me had our own bungalow complete with ensuite bathroom, reading area and 2 hammocks (thankfully for me not for sleeping in).

After lunch we set off on an excursion to monkey island. As it says on the tin, the island is full of not so shy monkeys all wanting the bananas that our guide, Raphael, had bought for them. As soon as we landed the monkeys were all over us. They seemed more interested in our water than the bananas and Matt soon had two monkeys sat on his shoulder drinking out of his water bottles. The monkeys on the island were mainly spider and tamarin monkeys and the tourist visits have actually helped the population increase. We had a short walk through the jungle and there were monkeys everywhere swinging through the trees.

The night we had a caiman spotting trip. We had seen so many caiman in the Pantanal that we weren't particularly bothered if we saw any or not but it was quite cool when our guide picked one out of the water for us all to get a closer look at. Back at our bungalow we relaxed in the hammocks for a while. I've perfected my 'hammock entry technique' since the Pantanal and managed to get in and out unscathed.

The next morning it was a 5am wake up for a walk into the jungle. We had to don very sexy gum boots and, having learnt my lesson with the mosi's in La Paz, I covered up from head to toe and was well sprayed in repellent. Our guide grew up in the jungle and showed us how various plants and trees are used for medicinal purposes. We learnt a few things about survival in the jungle and were shown how to make a roof out of palm leaves - you know who to call on if you're ever stuck in the jungle! Matt helped to paddle us up a river on a very rickety boat. We saw lots of birds, none of whose names I can remember except the Toucan. We also saw a tarancula. The guide picked him up for us to get a closer look and accidently dropped him on Andy. Andy was amazing - he stayed totally calm, deep breathing until the guide managed to recapture him. I think if it had landed on one of the girls we would have all ended up in the water! Once back on the bank the spider swam over to the nearest lilipad and then jumped between lilipads over to the other side of the river. I never knew that spiders could swim - ever day's a school day!

The afternoon's activity was piranha fishing - after my last unsuccessful attempt in the Pantanal I wasn't particularly keen. We headed off to a spot on the river apparently 'abundant' with fish. We baited our bamboo fishing rods with meat and sat and waited and waited.... A bit of a competition began between the various countries, Team Canada and Team Ireland becoming particularly competitive. I think team England became bored particularly quickly and talk turned quickly to the beers waiting for us when we got back. I'm starting to doubt the existence of piranhas as after one and a half hours we still hadn't caught a thing. I don't think the quality of the rods helped much as some fish were managing to swim up, steel the bait and then swim off again.

After a few beers and cocktails that night, Matt and me went on a 'secret' night walk into the jungle with our guide - secret because he wasn't supposed to take us into the jungle at night. As we set off into the darkness I started to have a few dark thoughts - we're following a guy carrying a machete into the jungle and no-one knows where we are. I had thoughts of him taking us to some jungle village where they would boil us alive as part of some strange ritual. When we got back that night Matt said he had been thinking exactly the same. We walked to a lake and saw some Caiman and a Tapir. The Tapir wouldn't leave us alone - he just wanted to play. He swam around the lake staying close to us, knowing that he wouldn't be hunted if he was near us. We walked back to the lodge without torches which was slightly scary but its amazing how quickly your eyes get used to the dark. Back at the lodge Matt and me had another Tapir sat outside our bungalow. He was a real softy and kept rolling over for us to tickle his tummy. I'd managed to survive without any more bites apart from on my head and had a few lovely egg shaped lumps on my forehead.

That night there were some strange animal noises coming from our bungalow. Unfortunately it wasn't an exotic animal but Matt being violently sick. He threw up all night and I've never heard anything sound more like an elephant! It wasn't a nice journey back to Cuzco for Matt the next day, with a long boat trip, truck journey and flight. The security at the Amazon airport wasn't at it's highest and we noticed that the x-ray scanner was broken. The security guard had a quick look in each persons bag and when no-one was looking threw them through the machine. The flight was ok but didn't do much to make Matt feel better. Matt wasn't the only person feeling ill though and when we got back to Cuzco Jono arranged for a group visit from the doctor as we were so close to doing the Inca Trail. It turned out that Matt had a stomach infection and was prescribed antibiotics. I think Matt was the lucky one - the other two had parasites in their stomachs - yuck!!
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