Hola, Peru!
Into the Amazon Jungle

Canopy in the Canopy

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God blessed us with a beautiful spring (Peru is in the southern hemisphere, remember...) morning as we flew from Lima's international airport into the small airport of Iquitos  in north eastern Peru to begin our first jungle adventure.

Iquitos is the world's largest city that cannot be reached by road, being linked to the outside world only by boat or air.

 

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Our private driver met us at the airport, loaded us and our things into his van, and handed us a snack for the 2-hour drive ahead.  

Black corn drink is not a good choice to give to clumsy tourists wearing white pants riding on bumpy Peruvian roads...

 

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He drove us as far as he could, then we got out at a dock in the town of Nauta where we would get on a boat to take us into the northern Amazon basin. Just as we arrived, it started raining which quickly stirred up the water and made it too rough to navigate.

 

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So we waited for about an hour and began to take in our surroundings.

 

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We were not in Kansas Indiana any more.

 

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But they did have ice cream!  (Although Kim wouldn't let me buy from this vendor...)

 

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I began waving at children, and made a cute little friend...

 

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...who kept an eye on the strange gringo lady...

 

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...until her family motored down the river.  There are at least 11 people and supplies on that boat....

 

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We were fascinated by the long boats and the resourcefulness of the people. This river, by the way, is NOT the Amazon. This is the Maranon River, a major tributary of the Upper Amazon.  During our stay, we were never actually ON the Amazon itself...it's a HUGE river...but instead we were on lots of tributaries that feed into the Amazon.

 

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We watched a fisherman unload a couple of spiny catfish. Little did we know it at the time, but we would see these very fish on our dinner plates a few hours later.

 

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Kim's rearing to go!

 

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We made our way down these rickety steps...

 

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...across this bridge...

 

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...past the eggs that were going with us and would be on our plates for breakfast the next morning...

 

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...and onto our boat.  Destination: The Treehouse Lodge.

 

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The villages on the shoreline got farther and farther apart...

 

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....and two hours later we turned off of the Maranon River onto a much smaller river,...

 

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...which led us to The Treehouse Lodge. 

This other young couple from London shared the boat with us, and he was seasick the whole way.  Poor fella...not a good thing when you're exploring the Amazon...

 

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We walked to the central dining area for a quick welcome before they led us to our treehouse room.

Let me just note that from this point on through the next three days, we were continually hot and sticky with sweat.  The humidity is suffocating and down on the jungle floor there is no breeze at all.  I'll try to refrain from mentioning how hot we were in every other sentence....

 

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Even though we were at least 20 years older than any of the other guests at The Treehouse, for some reason we were assigned Treehouse #10...the farthest away (about 200 meters from the main lodge...that's more than 2 football fields, folks!) and one of the tallest at 53' in the air.  The good thing is it's the newest and largest and is the only one with its own balcony overlooking the river.

The bad thing is we had to walk 200 meters and climb 52 stairs circling a tree trunk and traverse 2 suspension bridges just to get there, an adventure in itself.  It's a good thing my fitness drill sergeant instructor Wendy made me do all those squats and jumping jacks before we left...

Did I mention Kim hates heights and especially loathes suspension bridges?  I guess when I booked our stay here I neglected to remember those little details. Get over it, my man!

 

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Fifty-two stairs.  Yes, I counted them.  Several times.

 

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The first bridge was quite long, and we quickly learned to go one at a time across it.

 

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Bridge number 2 was shorter and not quite as shaky.

I took these photos the next day, but we arrived just before dark, adding to the suspense (pun intended!). Kim looks very small walking through the canopy...

 

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Our treehouse!  They even had a Welcome mat just outside the door.

 

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Eat your heart out, Swiss Family Robinson!

 

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A bathroom with a view!  Just to the left of the sink was a shower (cold water only...you can't have everything in the jungle, can you?!).

 

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A nice little deck overlooking the river.

 

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They even supplied a walkie-talkie just in case we had a heart attack just getting to our treehouse.

So, we took a few minutes to catch our breath get settled in, then we met our guide Orlando for our first night jungle walk before dinner.

 

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Walking jungle excursions require rubber boots.  Because one never knows when she might have to wade through mud or ford a creek. Plus snakes and spiders can't bite through boots.  Multi-purpose footwear, but hot and sweaty.  (oops...sorry....)

 

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We loved Orlando!  Wilderness/wildlife guides never cease to amaze me with their tremendous knowledge, instincts, skills, heightened senses, and command of different languages.  Orlando was no exception...quite a smart fella and a superb guide!

 

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Our first spotting.

 

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In a tree right next to the lodge walkway, a boa constrictor.  A little one.

 

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Might be the same one we saw hanging from the walkway beam the next night.  Or its brother.  (Sorry for the poor image quality...I didn't have my big camera with me at dinner and iPhones are not great with night shots...)

 

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We didn't have a lot of great spottings...just things you'd expect to see in a jungle or even a woods at night...

 

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Possums are ugly no matter where in the world you are.

 

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Nightjar bird...

 

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Thankfully we don't see these in Indiana.  A pink-toed tarantula.

If you look really closely, you can see its pink toes.  I preferred to take Orlando's word for it....

 

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Lest you think great cuisine cannot be found in the Amazon jungle, you'd be wrong.  Look at this kitchen in the Lodge!

 

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This was our dining room table for all meals.

 

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Half the time, we didn't know what we were eating, but most of it was pretty tasty.

 

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And, if we were REALLY LUCKY, we might get an ice cube in our water glass!  Such a luxury....although it sure doesn't last long....

 

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And one more thing...the lodge staff and guides played pick-up "football" (soccer) games every day at noon, in the heat of the day!  Crazy Peruvians! Notice our room towels hanging out to dry...with so much humidity, it must take them days to dry out....

 

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Ever since I saw it listed as one of the most unique places to stay in the world, I've wanted to experience The Treetop Lodge.

 

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Even though it was one of the hottest places we've ever stayed, it was also one of the coolest!

 

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Nothing quite like being lulled to sleep by the humming of the jungle and awakened by bird calls and monkey screeches.

When you're spending nights under...

...a canopy in the canopy.

 

 

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