November 16th, 2008 – by: alyssa_ob
flying over the Amazon
We arrived in Puerto Maldonado and got to exit out the back of the plane directly onto the tarmac - how exciting! It was really hot and humid there, what a difference from what we left back home! We tried to get our bags but were pretty much the last ones to get them. We were greeted outside by Alan, our guide from Explorer's Inn, the outfitter we booked for our rainforest stay.
First stop in town was to pay our entrance to the preserve and then we took a long bumpy, muddy road to the boat dock. We took a ride up the Tambopata River about 2 and half hours to get to the lodge. On the way we had tasty (warm) box lunches to munch on and Alan explained the scenery and such that we were seeing.
exit out the back door
We saw some sideneck turtles with butterflies eating the turtles' tears to get nutrients for the necter. We also saw some gold mining boats - they mine the gold from the sediment using mercury and there are no environmental controls so the river and fish are polluted with mercury. This is why the lodge doesn't serve any fish. Hmmm, interesting. People use the river to bathe and basically for all their water needs. It also serves as a main highway - much easier to travel than through the jungle.
We signed in at the Preserve and saw some weaver bird nests. These birds weave hanging baskets as nests and there can be several of these in a tree. We had a tree of weaver birds outside our cabin (they are noisy). I just added a video of the weaver birds.
You can't see them well, but you can hear them. We climbed up the steps from the boat and walked a board walk and suddenly we came to a clearing that was the Explorer's Inn. We were greeted with a glass of cocona juice topped with a hibiscus flower. We then went to our rooms to settle in a relax a couple of hours before our first activity - a caiman hunt!
can't see my bag...
We met at 6:30 (it was dark) and had a little learning session on caimans - they are a type of alligator. We took a ride in the boat in the dark and light rain and searched for caimans that had come out to eat. Alan was really good at spotting them. The boat driver kept us in the middle of the river and Alan searched the banks with a spotlight. When he saw the red eyes glowing, he'd signal the driver to get closer and we'd see the eyes and snout sticking out of the water.
A couple times we saw the full caiman on the bank. They weren't very big - only 1-2 meters. It was amazing how he could spot them from a hundred meters away. We'd get up close and I'd stare at this stick in the water wondering where the caiman was, and then it would slip beneath the surface - oh, I guess that was it! So I didn't get any photos. It was pretty neat out there in the middle of the river, pitch black with lightning streaking across the sky. Actually it was a little scary. How did the driver stay in the middle of the river? Its not like it was a straight river and we didn't have any lights on the boat other than the spotlight up front and that was shining back and forth. And then we turned out the light and turned off the motor and just hung out and let the river take us.
That was scary too. Our long boat managed to turned completely sideways to the river and rocked in the waves. I was sure a boat would come out of nowhere and broadside us. It was so dark out there.
Back at the lodge we had dinner - it was beef. Ick. I'm glad I requested vegetarian meals so I had a tasty veggie omelet. It was really good. I took a shower in our cabin - we didn't have electricity so the shower was by candlelight. And the water was from the river so it wasn't very warm. But not freezing cold either. Since it was cool and rainy, the mosqitoes weren't really out so I opted to sleep with out the mosquito net over my bed. We went to bed early because we had a 4:30 am wake up call!
Puerto Maldonado Hotels & Accommodations review
rustic experience in the Amazon rainforest
I can't say enough good things about our experience here. We were picked up from the airport by our guide and then brought to the lodge via a 1.5 hou… read entire review