Up the mother of god

Trip Start Mar 07, 2013
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Trip End Mar 18, 2013


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Flag of Peru  ,
Thursday, March 14, 2013


With the Andes Mountains on the far west side of South America, most rivers run east and eventually flow into the Amazon (or at least 1100 of them do) forming one of the largest rain forest on the planet.  We are visiting Puerto Maldonado and staying at the Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica to spend a few days in the rain forest. it is on the madre de dios river ( Mother of God River)

We arrived at around noon and were brought to the butterfly house where we signed releases, did paperwork, etc and then loaded the bus for the canoe. Riding though town, it was obvious the preferred method of transportation was motorcycle. The roads were designed with a special lane for motorbikes.  The guide told us there were 100,000 people in puerto Moldonado and just as many motorcycles.  We saw 3-4 people squeezed onto a bike heading into town.  The guide explained that they are cheap compared to cars and use little gas, so it makes sense for the people to use this mode of transportation.  Hard to disagree with that logic.

The river had widened quite a bit from Cuzco.  Several rivers join between here and there.  The name of the river is now the Madre de dios (Mother of God).  There are 1100 tributaries to the Amazon river.   This one is the largest. It is amazing to think that the water we rafted a few days ago on the western side of South America works its way across the continent to the Atlantic.  

We had a great meal and then went to the ecology center to plan our activities during our stay.  We started with a nature walk though the rain forest.  We learned about the primary and secondary forest.  Primary is rain forest in its original state.  Secondary is forest that has been previous farmed or cut but has been allowed to grow back.  It takes hundreds of years for the trees to grow to the size of the primary forest, so even if an area was last farmed 30 years ago, the height of the trees is only 60 feet as opposed to the 100-120 feet height  of the primary forest.  

You expect to see large trees but it is stunning how large they actually are. 

In the primary forest only between 3-5% of the sunlight reaches the ground whereas in the secondary it is 20-30%.  

Our first organized activity was a canoe cruise up the river to go spotlighting.  They do it just like we do a home, a big bright spotlight looking onto the darkness trying see movement of the reflection of their eyes.   It is typical to see caiman's (the local version of alligators) and other types of wildlife that will come out in the evening looking for dinner.  

We did spot a Caiman, who did not seem to be appreciative of the canoe full of paparazzi flashing and snapping away.  We also saw a Capibara, a 100 l b relative of the rat.  This one could have been above his ideal body weight, it was huge.  

The nature guides speak good English and have a good sense of humor.  They had a big fish jump in the canoe by accident last week and one of the guides shot a few photo's and was showing them to some other guests.  He kept saying "look at the tits on that fish.  ", which did get our attention and we ran over to have a look at his photo.  It turns out he was saying look at the teeth on that fish, and I will admit it was quite a set.  

We have seen our share of rain.  We had a strong thunderstorm move over during the night and one moved in on our way to the mornings excursion, causing us to postpone until this afternoon.  Trey was a bit frustrated.   we had a 5am Wake up knock (no phones in the room) for the 6 am trip.  We loaded up  arrived a the trail to lake Sandoval but the rain was coming down so hard that the guide suggested that we put this off until the afternoon and do the canopy tour instead.  So they got to have a relaxing morning waiting for the rain to let up and I got the opportunity to write.  

  A little about the resort, There are 14 different activities offered.  You are able to choose the ones you like, and do as many as will fit into your schedule. Anything from bird watching, nature hikes, to piraņa fishing.  

The 15th activity (and most popular) is eating.  They do serve good food and it is included as part of the package.  It is cruise ship style, were you have a menu and choose an appetizer, main course, and desert.  

The rooms have one power outlet.  There is power provided 18 hours per day.  The room is only cooled by a ceiling fa.   It is a small screened cabana with mosquito nets over each bed.  Their are kerosene lanterns to light it at night and they seem to do a good job keeping the mosquito's away.    We saw plenty on our walk but with the off and citronella splash provided by the hotel, they don't seem to be too interested in us.  

The resort is only 35 rooms is is about half full right now. It feels like summer camp with a few more amenities and a gourmet restraint attached.  There is no Internet and we have passed our time reading playing backgammon, and looking at photos of the previous adventures.  It has been a nice relaxing break and enjoyable to slow the pace a bit.  

We have enjoyed good times, good company. And a fascinating country.   This will be one a trip that we remember.  
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