The Amazon

Trip Start Aug 23, 2008
1
7
19
Trip End Sep 28, 2008


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Flag of Peru  ,
Monday, September 1, 2008

Our flight from Lima to Puerto Maldonado went via Cusco and it was exciting to get a sneak look at Cusco with the flyover and quick landing for pickup of more passengers... its nothing like I imagined and Im looking forward to getting there in a couple of days. Cusco is one of those cities which is hard to imagine before going there so seems exotic in my mind (like Kathmandu and La Paz)

We were met at the airport and a quick stop to drop our luggage at a local office. (and to strip down to shorts and tshirts as the temperature here just doubled from Lima! We then drove for an hour to the river in a 4 wheel drive over a typical bumpy road...sigh.. and boarded a little boat for our one hour ride down the river with a nice lunch of cold savoury rice wrapped in a bannana leaves.


Our guide for the couple of days was Juan Carlos and he was a classic! Born in Lima with an Italian mother and he was a true performer and really made our stay special.


The lodge was great and our cabin lovely. It came with a good mosquito net which was reassuring after our night walk with Juan Carlos.

Im sure he took us to every tratulas hole within a 3 kilometre radius of the lodge...... geez are they big, black, hairy and mean looking. He caught a little beetle that lights up like a fire fly and then coached the tratula's out of their holes to eat it.

Trantula spotting a couple of hours before bed proved to be a bad idea...heee.... it resulted in me waking rob 20 times during the night as I could hear a "trantula" chomping on a new sealed packed of potatoe chips.... after quite a bit of swearing (and my nagging)Rob eventually got his trusty torch (its an echo lodge so no electricity) and went to investigate.

We had a brand new unopened packet of potato chips and now there was a big hole in the packet!!... I knew it!!!... no sign of the tratula so Rob put the whole packet outside on the door and piece return to the cabin. (Cynthia said the next day it would have been a little bush possum (yeh, whatever).... 2 feet from my head!

Next day was a 5am start and a boat ride to the a bird hide on the banks of the river where we got a good look at the birds feeding on the clay licks.

Id seen this on the telly and when I knew there was some clay licks in our area Id hoped wed be able to see them... Juan Carlos explained that we had to wait for all the birds which were in the trees above the licks to feed before they went to the wall...the clay licks are actually eaten by the birds to help digestion... so they eat first then all go to the wall for clay


After breakfast we went for a walk and ended up all jumping in the river for a swim to cool off from the heat....as we walked back along the river bank, thanks to Claire and Juan Carlos I was saved from the quick sand which swallowed me right up to the top of my legs (no word of a lie)..Claire and I had been walking along yacking and I didnt notice the bank soil starting to deteriorate....wooops...sunk straight down and stuck hard... what made it worse that when trying to get out and felt how stuck I was I got the giggles and then I had no hope.... claire was trying to pull me out..good luck.. the suction was so strong but thanks Claire for trying...hee..

Then Juan Carlos came to the rescue and told me to go over onto all 4's and crawl across ways distributing the weight... and presto no probs and straight out.... covered in black mud. A quick rinse off in the river and all was good except poor Claire ended up dirty than me!

That arvo I stayed at the lodge with a book in one of the hammocks while Rob and the group went fishing for parana's. They didnt return until after dark and were all high as kites as Juan Carlos had gone crocodile hunting. As their dugout boat had drifted in the pitch dark down the river Juan Carlos had been supposedly spotting for a crocodile.. Rob and the others thought he was just putting on "a bit of a show for the tourists"(pretending to be a bit of a Steve Irwin..hee) So they no way had any expectation of anything happening.

Rob reckons he couldnt see a foot in front of the boat in the dark himself so they were all shocked when suddenly Juan Carlos let a yell and threw himself over the side of the boat.

There was a splash and next thing you know he comes up holding a 3 foot croc around it's neck! Rob couldnt believe it. Juan Carlos was so pumped up.... everyone got a quick photo shot before he kissed it and threw it back in the river. Rob still cant figure out how he could even spot it let alone catch it.. unbelievable. (Juan Carlos said the little crocs not the problem... he has to be quick incase its mother is close..... geez)

Next morning we take the boat back down to the port and the plane to Cusco -and the much awaited cooler weather.

Info spiel following just for me to have when we're old (older..hee)

This is the least populated territory in Peru, with only 600,000 people living in its 80,000 kM2 of jungle area. Its capital Is a riverside city known as Puerto Maldonado with 25000 Inhabitants.
Gold panning on the Tampobamba and Madre de Dios rivers, and the latex boom at the end of the past century, determined the foundation of the city of Puerto Maldonado.

Juan Carlos our amazon guide toldus that the illegal gold panning today is destroying the rivers as the process sucks the silt out of the river basin and then leaves murcury which is destoying everything. He told us that it's both a major environmental and health problem. Most gold miners use liquid mercury to extract gold particles from the river silt. They handle the toxic liquid mercury with their bare hands. To purify the gold particles, the mercury is burned off. After being vaporized, mercury particles contaminate the surrounding ecosystems. The murcury travels throughout the food chain to the large river fish and carnivorous birds. Which the local people then eat causing lots of health problems.
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Where I stayed
Inetawa Lodge

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