Daws.ca
Saturday, July 19th, 2003

Tambopata Jungle, Peru

Pirate Tony and Pepe

Just got back from a 3 day trip back into the jungle.... This time to the Tambopata reserve near Puerto Maldonado.... a 30 min flight from Cusco. Super great trip! Very different from Manu as this trip involved much less travelling time but we also didn’t go into the reserve zone. But the purpose of the trip was to go to Monkey Island!! hehehe Had to go, we couldn’t not go with a name like that and when travelling with V!

 

A few days before leaving we went to go confirm the trip. Went to the place where we booked the tour and the company had moved about a week before and no one knew any details about where they had gone nor did they have any contact numbers or anything... We got a bit worried then, especially since we had already paid... Was our tour going to go through?? We tried to find them... tried calling the numbers on our receipt... none of the numbers worked... no luck. We had our plane tickets, so we thought the worst that would happen is we’d show up in Puerto Maldonado and no one would be there to get us and we’d wander around and find the native village that our previous tour guide had recommended.

 

So the day of the trip came and we got to the airport only to find out more was going wrong. As we were checking in we realized that they hadn’t given us the return ticket, even though we had paid for it! We had no way of getting back to Cusco. More sketchiness! So spent the next 2 hours before our flight trying to sort everything out, thank goodness we got there early and V spoke Spanish. So stressful! In the end, about 10 minutes before boarding, we were told that we were in fact in the computer with reserved seats and they were going to send a fax to Puerto Maldonado saying that we could check in without a ticket and board the plane but that this usually wasn’t allowed but would probably be ok. hmmmm  ok, still feeling a bit unsettled about this whole tour.

 

Arrived in Puerto Maldonado, our guide was there with a little sign, pheuff! He looked about our age. We got into a little motorcycle taxi buggy thing and went to the Madre de Dios river where we got into a rocky boat and were asked to put life jackets on which would probably just get in the way if anything really did happen. So sketchy! We kept looking at each other, unsure about this tour.

 

Arrived at the campsite which really wasn’t a campsite, but a really nice resort with wooden cabins/houses along the rivers edge, beautiful! Got greeted with coconut juice, really yummy, and got taken to our cabin. So nice! Way nicer than our hotel in Cusco!!! Such a huge surprise! We were all feeling a lot better about this tour at this point. Beds for all of us, plus an en suite bathroom with hot shower available 24 hours/day, soap, towels, toilet paper! Plus hammocks on our porch overlooking the river! Who would have thought! It was awesome! They even made our beds in the morning like a hotel! Talk about luxury!! Such a posh place! We were in shock.

 

The meals were delicious, huge (3 courses), and very well done, approaching Japanese level of attention to aesthetics. In fact, some of meals had courses that were so pretty, we stood up and posed our plates for a picture, much to the amusement of the serving staff and other richy people around us. We had to explain that we were not used to this at all! It was great! We felt spoiled!

 

The tour itself was awesome, the guide knew lots of interesting facts. And we even made it back to Cusco on the right day. Everything worked out wonderfully.

 

The medicinal plant tour in the jungle though was great! Very interesting! So many different plants and trees used for different things. How do people find these things out?? Craziness. Was great too cause it tied together and filled in some of the gaps of things we learnt in Manu. Got asthma? Got a great cure for it! It involves eating a small white grub daily, but its okay cuz they taste like coconut... like coconut chewing gum hehehe. Supposed to work wonders though. There are so many useful plants in the jungle compared to North America. All you really need to survive there is a machete and a little bit of knowledge and you’re set, and would probably learn pretty fast how to be more comfortable. Being a jungle nomad would be pretty fun for awhile.

 

The much anticipated monkey island was great cause they came up super close. But it was also disappointing cause we didn’t spend much time there even though we expressed a lot of interest in it. Seemed like we just went, took a bunch of pictures and then it was time to leave cause they weren’t as close anymore. We would’ve liked to have stayed and just watched them interact in the trees. The island itself is used for rehabilitation and as a breeding station to increase population numbers in the jungle. The one thing we didn’t like about it was that it was very touristy in the fact that the guide puts bananas on a table so the monkeys will come down. Not sure how great that is for their rehabilitation and re-entry into the jungle as they are becoming used to being fed and becoming used to being around humans….hmmm

 

We went on a 5km hike through the forest to Sandoval lake to look for giant otters... none. But during the hike we spotted 3 Dusky Titi Monkeys. That now makes 9 different species of primates we’ve seen in Peru! :) -- not bad! Think there are 13 or 14 in Peru. While we were waiting for lunch Tony and I wandered off to look for them again. Found them! Followed them for a bit as they peered down at us from above. Was awesome. Wanted to keep following them but lunch was waiting.... sigh ... hehehe

 

One really fun thing (but bad also I guess) is the resort had a large parrot and a scarlet macaw as pets! The macaw stole the show... his name was Pepe. It was clinging on to the other side of a fence so Tony went up to it on the other side to take a picture, and he got excited and shoved his head through a hole and said "Hola!!" heheh ... and he took the picture there... It was great. Had quite a personality. Tony bundled up in his shirts and hoody and let him jump onto his arm... he climbed up onto Tony’s shoulder and nibbled on his ear. Birds of these types use their beaks to move around by biting into things and using its head as a third leg to move about... Macaws have huge sharp pointed beaks, and they have to bite hard to hold their weight. Pepe actually managed to break through skin through the clothes. Veronica tried holding him for awhile but wasn’t wearing as much and has some nice purple bruises down her arm to show for it... was worth it though! We got lots of shots with him as he’s pretty much the most beautiful bird I expect to ever see so close up. One macaw like that in Canada would set you back a good $13,000. Pepe and the parrot and other animals freely roam about, and sometimes go over to the cabins to say hello... Pepe has enough weight to push open doors ... this morning he came into the dining room through the door, said hello and climbed up Tony’s chair, which he got off of quick so he wouldn’t get any more bite marks on his ear, especially without the hood! ahhh Pepe…so entertaining.

 

One difference between Manu and Tambopata was that we had more downtime at Tambopata.... Not used to that. Tony and V filled the time up by wandering around and going for hikes around the area. Was fun being able to go at our own pace and spend more time looking at things we were interested in. Another time we walked along the river bank looking for caimans (little crocodiles). Didn’t see any on our walk unfortunately but the walk was fun nevertheless.

 

The jungle in the Tambopata part of the jungle was still gorgeous even though all of it wasn’t virgin. Such beautiful sunsets, sunrises, scenery, flowers, and vegetation. Had a really great time in the end after all the sketchiness of the tour at the beginning. Glad it all worked out.

 

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