Sunday, March 28, 2010

Our Amazonian Escapade - Part 2

Our Amazonian adventure was full of surprises. David and I had our own guide, Elias, whereas everyone else had to join others to join groups of 6 or more people. We thought it was because we were on our honeymoon, but it turned out that because David had a French passport, they thought we would need a French speaking guide. Well, we ended up speaking in English the whole time with Elias (thank God!), and felt lucky to have our own private tour of the rainforest.

The first night, we took the Twilight River excursion, where we were introduced to the rainforest's nocturnal creatures. We got into a boat with some others from the lodge and for about 45 minutes, we were looking out for caimans and owls. Also, we got to admire the beautiful starlit sky. The stars of the southern hemisphere seemed so much bigger and literally sparkled like diamonds. Really amazing.

The next morning, we were to be ready by 6.30am for our Canopy Walk. Elias told us that the best time for this would be in the early morning as we would be able to admire the birds, monkeys and all other animals while they are active. So, after a great buffet breakfast, we headed off into the rainforest for this exciting adventure. The lodge has about eight hanging bridges, about 20-30 metres above the ground, some of which are really long. We could only walk one at a time, and as I walked, I could feel the bridge moving slowly. The last thing I wanted was to fall into some massive trees filled with insects, snakes or monkeys! I ended up having great fun doing the canopy walks.

We saw so many types of birds, including woodpeckers and toucans and also were able to admire different flowers and plants. Not to forget the giant ants, some bees and beehives, and wild mushrooms!

After lunch, we went on the Anaconda Walk. The excursion is named this way because some time back, someone in the lodge found an anaconda snake in a region of the lodge, and ever since, they identify the walkway this way. While we didn't come across an anaconda, we did see a black snake quickly glide past us into some plant!

We then did the Hacienda Concepcion, where we took a boat to the Botanical Garden to learn about different species of plants and their medicinal value. Although I am not a big fan of botany, I did find it interesting to know about the different uses of plants.

We also took a canoe to observe turtles, caimans and other wold species. I really enjoyed this excursion, as it was an eye opener for me in many ways.

My favorite of all the excursions we did was Gamitana Creek. Gamitana is a type of fish that is found in the Amazonian region, so our excursion consisted of some fishing in the river. I definitely did not like that idea too much, but Elias assured me that they do not kill the fish, but always put it back into the water. So, we first set off for a 1 hour trail, which was then followed by some canoeing.

Along the way, we did spot a few caimans (yuck, I hate reptiles!), and I prayed that I wouldn't fall into the water (to the delight of the caimans and other creatures). We saw many colorful birds, were greeted by their chirps that sounded so musical, and it truly felt like nothing else existed between us and the nature. Feeling that way is something rare for me, as I live in an international city, where there are almost always people, buildings, traffic and noise. This, on the other hand, was nature at its best.

After canoeing for a while, we got off the boat and visited a local family's house. They had a garden that consisted of banana trees, and I was so thrilled to see various types of bananas there, including the red ones! Elias said that we could have some, so I gladly helped myself to a couple. Then, we walked around the gardens and the plantations, before we settled for a picninc lunch, prepared by the lodge. Elias helped to set it up, and we ate in a hut. It felt really good to be away from it all, and the picnic was also very good.

In the afternoon, we returned to the lodge, and decided to have a massage. A young Peruvian lady came to escort us one at a tome to Ena Spa, the outdoor massage parlour, which had a view of Madre de Dios. She did a good job, and it felt so good to relax this way after 2 or 3 days of exploring the rainforest. As you can see, I felt refreshed!

The food at the lodge was top class. The service was great and very personal. The presentation of the food was very good, and many local ingredients were creatively used in the cuisine. All the weight I had lost during the first part of the trip, I managed to gain back here! Well, what matters is that I had a great time with the food here!

My entire experience at the lodge was simply fantastic. It was one of the most unique experiences in my life, as I never imagined that I would spend days in the Amazonian rainforest! What I also found very impressive was that all the guides are required to do a project whereby they choose a specific subject of interest, do thorough research and write reports and make presentations on their findings. It is an important contribution to the environment as it helps others understand specific environment related problems and provides opportunities to fix them. Elias, for example, was passionate about palm trees and so, during his free time, he did research on these trees. Great way to keep the guides challenged too!

Our time at the Amazonian rainforest came to an end, and I will always look back at it as an enriching and fun experience. We made our way back to the capital of Peru, which I will write about next!

Do enjoy the video of our Amazonian excursions:

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