Rickety Stairs to Posada Amazona
After a brief stop in Cusco, we flew to Puerto Maldonado in southeast Peru to spend four days at a jungle lodge, Posada Amazona - needless to say, Cindy was happy to head to the warmth of the jungle. The flight from Cusco was short and our guide Willian met us at the airport and drove us to the “office” which was just a bungalow in the middle of nowhere where we waited while he explained a bit about the next four days. Eventually we hopped in a truck and took an hour drive over a bumpy, dusty road to the “port” which had one tiny store, an outhouse and a rickety looking dock.
We hung there waiting for a while and eventually a tour group of young teenage kids from the mid-west showed up all wearing Ribbit green t-shirts and basically acting like teenagers. We were going to accompany them on the boat ride down the Tambopata river - luckily they were continuing on. Actually they seemed like nice kids and we talked to one of the adult leaders who was a nice enough guy and had been to Peru several times. Saw a bit of wildlife on the river including birds, a small Cayman (kind of like an alligator) and several Capabara which are the world’s largest rodents before we were dropped off on the mud banks of the river and climbed the rickety steps in the photo and hiked the twenty minutes to the resort.
Posada Amazona Canopy Tower
Posada Amazona is a pretty nice place, hidden in the jungle with bamboo bungalow rooms with only three walls so you can see/hear the wildlife and no doors or electricity - only kerosene lamps to see by at night and cold showers.
Luckily, they did have mosquito nets! Our guide Willian was a really funny guy about 25 years old and one of 21 kids (so everywhere we went, he would say “that’s one of my brothers” or “that’s my sister”). He was from “the village” where the indigenous people live - supposedly Posada Amazona gives 40% of their revenues to the locals from the village and only employs guides from the village but Willian said that was questionable and that a rich guy from Lima actually owns it. Since we were the only people to arrive that day, it ended up that Willian would be our private guide for the next four days which was pretty nice.
Sunset from the Canopy Tower
Every day, you do several jungle tours/events - the first afternoon was to hike through the jungle and climb the Canopy tower which is the 120 foot green tower in the picture.
You get a great view of the jungle and the Tambopata river from 120 feet up and it was only semi-rickety and wobbly. We stayed up there for sunset and then hiked back in the dark and took a cold shower, much more welcome than the one at Machu Picchu. Dinner was buffet style with the rest of the groups staying at the lodge (only a few) and, lucky for me, there was a happy hour and plenty of cold beer.
Dawn at Ox Bow Lake
I mentioned earlier that waking up early seems to be par for the course which proved to be the case at Posada Amazona - we awoke between 4:00 and 5:00 each day. The next day, we started off with a hike and boat ride in the dark wearing the lovely rubber boots that you see in the picture of me on the boat, followed by another hike to Ox Bow Lake which was very pretty at dawn and filled with tons of different kinds of birds.
Willian had great fun taking pictures of the birds using Cindy’s camera pointed through a telescope which has questionable results. We took what he called a catamaran out - it was actually two wooden canoes with some boards lashed to it and a big rudder/oar that was really difficult to control (well at least for me…) and we cruised around the lake looking at the wildlife and hearing all of the sounds of dawn in the jungle. We managed to stop for a bit and fished for piranha using raw beef, each catching one. Willian grabbed one and held a leaf out towards its mouth and it repeatedly bit a perfect little half circle out of the leaf. That along with the questionable looking stuff floating in the water kept me from taking a dip…
Cindy on Ox Bow Lake
That afternoon, after lunch and a rest, we hiked to the Macaw Clay Lick (more on what a clay lick is later) and that is where you see me bored out of my mind in the red shirt, waiting for the very noisy but very cautious Macaws to show up.
They eventually did show up, although there was a Turkey and a Capabara at the lick so it scared them off and we only saw them from a distance. Willian was really knowledgeable about all kinds of stuff in the jungle and showed us a lot of cool things like “walking” palm trees that have these long roots and actually slowly “walk” through the jungle and belly palms that suck all the water up and store it like a camel.
Could you be a dorkier tourist in rubber boots?
Next, we hiked down to the river and hopped in a long boat to go visit the local Shaman’s medicinal garden. Willian’s brother was our guide there and we walked around the jungle with Willian translating his brother’s precise descriptions of each plant and tree and how to prepare various medicines and treatments.
The first one was some kind of natural Viagra which Willian and his brother found pretty funny - he made a point of folding up a leave from the plant and showing us how it springs back to full attention. Another tree he showed us was part of a cure for some nasty mosquito larvae infection thing that, at first, Willian told us didn’t occur in this part of Peru. Thirty seconds later, his brother showed us a scar on his back from when he got this disease and we had Willian ask him where he got it. He told us he got it here • break out the DEET! They also showed us the Ayahuasca plant which is some kind of hallucinogen used in rituals where you see your animal spirit. Willian neglected to offer us any as the Shaman was out of town (although I am not sure Cindy was ready to toss lunch anymore anyways • apparently, it gets you pretty ill before your visions start…).
Pirranah in the lake I didn't swim in
Instead we opted for Pisco Sours at happy hour back at the bar.
Willian on Ox Bow Lake
The next day, we woke up really early and headed out to the Parakeet clay lick. Willian told us that the birds go to these big walls of clay to lick and eat the clay probably to protect them from some of the poisonous seeds that they eat. We got there and they were making a huge racket and eventually zillions of green, blue and orange headed parakeets flew in to eat clay. Just as we were leaving the hut at the lick, Willian heard howler monkeys which make a really bizarre sound. We tromped back to the lodge with our rubber boots on, stopping along the way to watch Willian tease tarantula’s out of their nests for photo opportunities. When we got back for lunch, we heard a bizarre racket which ended up being these huge birds that build hanging, teardrop shaped nests and dive in and out of them.
I have a video for anyone who stops by. Also, there was a family of red monkeys whooping it up right by the entrance.
Posada Amazona Entrance
That afternoon, we took a long hike through the jungle (with my infamous Blair Witch video…) seeing a variety of wildlife including a Puma print in the mud which got Willian very excited. We ended up at the giant Kapok Tree which was this immense tree about 150 feet high before heading back for our last night in the jungle. One long, bumpy bus ride later (including having to get everyone off the bus so it could pass over a collapsing bridge) and a short flight and we were back in Cusco.