Yungle Fever in the Amazon - First Stop: Posadas Amazonas

Puerto Maldonado Travel Blog

 › entry 40 of 89 › view all entries
Shaka! Plunging into the river with piranhas and urethra-lovin' fish!

Today, we arrived in the Amazon Rain Forest, aka "the Yungle."  Spanish speakers often confuse the "y" and the "j" sound, which is why we ended up spending 6 days in the "Yungle" and I graduated from "Jale," aka the prison. 

Getting to the Yungle did very little to quell my growing paranoia of flying.  The plane flight was literally hair-raising and left my palms substantially moisturized (better than elsewhere).  As we were making our final descent with the landing gear extended, we broke through the incredibly dense clouds very near to the ground and suddenly accelerated upwards.  During our 20-min. "scenic flight" through very rainy rain clouds, I rediscovered my religion.

We finally landed and I felt like I needed to take a shower and curl up into the fetal position.

Our motorized canoes
  After a 45 minute bus ride on what can only generously be called a dirt road, we got to the Tambopata River, one of the many tributaries of the Amazon River.  From there, our lodge for the first three days, Posadas Amazonas, was a 1.5hr boat ride away.  On the way there, we saw saddlebacked tamarind monkeys scampering across the road, a few green and red macaws (large, colorful parrots) at a clay lick on the river, a capybara hanging out on the banks, and a greynecked wood-rail.  We saw a huge family of capybaras a few days later on the river bank.  They were best described by Caroline, the Irish lass on our trip, as "rat pigs."  Very cute rat pigs.

The lodge was absolutely gorgeous.  Our rooms opened up to the rain forest so you can watch the wildlife and our beds had very necessary mosquito nets.

Boat on river
  Over the course of the trip, I graduated from sweet smelling 25% DEET Off! repellent to the 98.5% REI Bug Juice, aka battery acid.  My watch has never quite been the same, but I needed the full chemical power to ward off the voracious mosquitos from my sweet Asian blood.

The next day, we woke up at 4:30 am--they really love that early rising thing--to take the boat and hike to Oxbow Lake where we did a bit of wildlife spotting.  There we saw a wattled jacana, yellow breasted flycatchers, hoatzins (a prehistoric bird considered the missing link between reptiles and birds), anhinga (a waterbird with a snake-like neck, cormorants drying their wings, scarlet macaws flying overhead, long-nosed bats, blue ringed kingfishers, and smoothbilled ani.

Gold mining boat
  We tried a plant that had ice-cream tasting flesh around the beans.

We also spent some time fishing (and releasing) piranhas with a hook and raw beef.  The one I caught was small but I would like to think, vicious!  Piranhas can live up to 10 minutes out of water and the guide showed us how they will "hole-punch" leaves if you put it in front of them.  Butterflies would also land on us frequently in true Cinderella fashion. 

On the way back, risking love bites from piranhas and the fish that is known to swim upstream into your urethra and hook there if you are peeing, I jumped into the cloudily brown river to drift downstream.  It's a bit unnerving when you can't see anything in the water.  I was nervous that I would exit the water with an uninvited parasite up my pee pipe and only relaxed after my first post-river pee.

A macaw clay lick
  Happy to say that my urethra appears to be fish-free.

After the lake, we returned to the lodge for breakfast (it's amazing how much you can do when you wake up at 4:30!) and then went on a short hike to a canopy tower.  I thought I would meet my end on that rickety canopy tower which shook as you ascended the stairs, especially with 15 people going up on it.  From the canopy tower, we saw macaws flying overhead and later saw the ubiquitous dusky titi monkeys in the trees on the hike back.

After a lovely lunch, we had a much needed relax time, where I learned to speak Irish slang.  Caroline taught me to say "dirty, dirty whore," which apparently is very versatile, and count (but only with numbers with "3"): "tchree tousand, tchree hundred and tcherty tchree.

Our bed room - notice the open wall
"  Then, I learned a truly ethnic Gaelic phrase: "Pog mo hon," which translates into "Kiss my ass."  Stringing these new learnings together should get me around Ireland!  I plan to visit Caroline in July and perhaps infiltrate the IRA.

Later that afternoon, we went to visit a local shaman and his garden.  In transit, we saw an orange rufous-capped motmot and a beautiful capped heron.  At the shaman's place, we learned about the different medicinal uses of native plants and got to try some.  One of the things we were told to put in our mouth, which of course I did without question, was a very strong pepper with analgesic effects.  Not fun.  Most of the prepared medicines were distilled with alcohol and sugar which gave it an added bonus.

Our bathroom
  I tried "una de gato" (cat's claw) for cancer prevention (which tasted like sherry), while some of the men drank "para para" for impotence. 

The next day, I woke up at 4 am with my roommate Marta to hike to the canopy tower for sunrise.  I obvious like self-torture as it 1) early and 2) a very shaky canopy tower.  Unfortunately, before we left the lodge, I was stung or bitten by something fierce.  I never did see my assailant.  It hurt like a mother for a long time and I had to turn back from the canopy tower soon after I reached there.  Upon my return at 5:30, I went into the kitchen to let them know what happened and they took me a cupboard with container of many plastic drawers like a jewelry case.  He then opened one of the labeled drawers to get me medicine but there was none left.

Dining room
  So he checked 4 other drawers, all likewise empty, and gave me pills from the first drawer that was filled.  It seemed a bit sketchy, but I took my pill and went back to sleep.  No worries.

After breakfast, five of us (me, Avi, Caroline, Camille, and Sophie) headed on to the next lodge, the one deepest in the Amazon, while the rest of the crew headed back to Lima.  It was sad to see them go.

maurer says:
So funny! Thanks for the descriptions. I'm looking forward to my own adventures this June.
Posted on: Mar 05, 2013
sunbug006 says:
What company did you travel with? Did you see any tarantulas? lol. Sounds like a great time.
Posted on: Nov 03, 2009
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
Shaka!  Plunging into the river wi…
Shaka! Plunging into the river w…
Our motorized canoes
Our motorized canoes
Boat on river
Boat on river
Gold mining boat
Gold mining boat
A macaw clay lick
A macaw clay lick
Our bed room - notice the open wall
Our bed room - notice the open wall
Our bathroom
Our bathroom
Dining room
Dining room
Me and a stylish capybara
Me and a stylish capybara
Sunrise en route to Oxbow Lake
Sunrise en route to Oxbow Lake
Sunrise
Sunrise
Sunrise
Sunrise
Hoatzin (prehistoric bird) at Oxbo…
Hoatzin (prehistoric bird) at Oxb…
Yellow-breasted fly catcher (blurr…
Yellow-breasted fly catcher (blur…
Long-nose bat (its that black thi…
Long-nose bat (it's that black th…
Vanilla ice cream tasting bean
Vanilla ice cream tasting bean
Another hoatzin
Another hoatzin
Serious fishing face
Serious fishing face
Success!  Its all in the wrist!
Success! It's all in the wrist!
Yellow-bellied piranha (a small on…
Yellow-bellied piranha (a small o…
Hook cleanly removed!
Hook cleanly removed!
Check out those pearly whites!
Check out those pearly whites!
Our non-motorized canoe for Oxbow …
Our non-motorized canoe for Oxbow…
Beautiful 88 butterfly that land…
Beautiful "88" butterfly that lan…
Turtle power
Turtle power
Me in a tree
Me in a tree
Not up the urethra!
Not up the urethra!
What was I thinking?
What was I thinking?
Yes, that water is that dirty in r…
Yes, that water is that dirty in …
Good times...
Good times...
Not in the urethra!
Not in the urethra!
Leaf-carrying ants on the hiking t…
Leaf-carrying ants on the hiking …
Vertigo-inducing canopy tower
Vertigo-inducing canopy tower
Made it to the top of the tower!
Made it to the top of the tower!
On the trail!
On the trail!
Fat lizard
Fat lizard
Leaf that when smashed turns into …
Leaf that when smashed turns into…
Its always a good sign when Omar,…
It's always a good sign when Omar…
Sunset
Sunset
Sunset
Sunset
Me and Jose, our tour leader.  Im…
Me and Jose, our tour leader. I'…
Even praying mantises need a drink…
Even praying mantises need a drin…
Sunrise from the Canopy Tower
Sunrise from the Canopy Tower
View from the Canopy Tower
View from the Canopy Tower
My assaulted finger...if only I co…
My assaulted finger...if only I c…
Our beds
Our beds
Another casualty of traveling.  Ha…
Another casualty of traveling. H…
Puerto Maldonado
photo by: halilee