September 25, 2007

From Lima to the Amazon

Our travels from Lima into the jungle took pretty much all day....First up was the flight from Lima to Cusco, and then from Cusco to Puerto Maldonado. The airport in Cusco is crazy – because it is in a deep valley the plane has to ascend very, very quickly to clear the mountains surrounding the city. Freaky! From the plane we got our first glimpse of the snow mountains of the Andes:
Andean Mountains

And then literally watched the landscape change from the impossibly high Andes to the lowland jungle of the Amazon Basin:
Tambopata River
Crazy how quickly and dramatically it happened.

Anyways from the airport we went to the expedition company’s headquarters to ditch most of our stuff, and meet up with our group. This would be one of the parts of our trip that we couldn’t do without being in a group… and it was fine. Our group consisted of us, a couple from the Netherlands (Hi Lydia and Erik!), a girl from France, and 3 guides. Not too bad a ratio!

Then, finally, we headed out into the jungle via a long, dirt road, and a teeny little van:
Infierno
About 45 min into the jungle we stopped in Infierno – which is the local Ese'eja Native Community that ownes and operates the lodge – to transfer into a dugout canoe for the remainder of the trip up the Tambopata River.
Dug out canoe
(just a side note here – the motor for the canoe only could go forward because it could also be used as a chainsaw to chop wood. Everything in Peru seemed to be as functional as possible)

On the boat we ate lunch – prepared for us by the community. They try to keep things as biodegradable as they can because the lodge is so remote trash collection isn’t really an option. So the rice dish was wrapped up in a leaf for transport!
Jeanne eating out of a leaf
Me eating out of a leaf

Matt eating out of a leaf
Matt eating out of a leaf

Along the way we saw many people living and working with the river:
Tambopata River
Kids playing on one of the many beaches


Gold
Boats that are part of the gold industry – they sift gold dust (not even nuggets) out of the water

And even some wildlife:
Turtles
Turtles sunning themselves (just like they do at home!)


Macaw's along the Tambopata
Macaws (I added notes on the flickr site so you can see exactly where they are)

It was a long journey (3 hours on the boat!) but a fun journey:
Tambopata River, Peru
Matt and Jeanne on the Tambopata


Finally we reached the lodge – of course we had to hike 15 min. through the jungle to get there…
Jungle

I was expecting rugged. I mean no hot water? No electricity? Sleeping under mosquito nets? I thought it would essentially be camping. I was not expecting this:

Refugio Amazonas
Refugio Amazonas
More pics of the lodge on here.

Our room was very nice:
Refugio Amazonas
See that mosquito net? Yeah that’s the only protection we had against the scorpion spiders.

In fact, Matt claims that this lodge is nicer than any hotel he’s ever stayed at. And it was completely open to the elements and didn’t have electricity or hot water. Not to mention air conditioning or I dunno… exterior walls:

Refugio Amazonas
Matt chillin' in the hammock in our room. Notice there is no wall/screen/window between us and the jungle. At night it literally sounded like we were inside one of those "jungle noise" sound machines.

There were all of these really cool details (sorry. We’re architects. This is what we look at while we’re on vaca) like how they dealt with lighting. There were niches that held gas lanterns:
Refugio Amazonas
They opened up to both the hallway and to the individual rooms. That way at night someone could come around and both light and extinguish them without entering any of the guests rooms. The whole place was really beautiful at night:
Refugio Amazonas

Next up? Some of the many cool things we saw during our stay here.

11 comments:

  1. OK so your trip is wicked cool! Your pictures are amazing...I'm on my way to go check out your flickr picts too....The lodge is beautiful!

    Can't wait to hear more!

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  2. What an amazing journey. It's incredible to me how much you had to travel just to get to the lodge. But you really saw some great things along the way. Those mountains were spectacular! The lodge is much, much nicer than I would have thought it would be, a very interesting building. And it looks so clean too. Were the jungle noises scary or cool to listen to? Can't wait for the next installment!

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  3. Annie6:43 AM

    Sounds like an awesome experience, and your photos are amazing! Thanks for sharing your trip with us! It's almost like being there...without the scorpions. Yikes!

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  4. I am amazed by your pictures and the lodge you stayed at! WOW. What an incredible experience. I love the pictures of both of you eating out of the leaves, that is just so cool.

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  5. The lodge looks WONDERFUL! I can only imagine how amazing it sounded at night. So far - a once in a lifetime sort of trip.

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  6. I esp. love that picture of both of you on the boat! And I love the attention to the architectural aspects of the lodge, how fascinating!

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  7. Great pictures of everything - especially you two! That place looks awesome. I would be a little freaked about not having any exterior walls but that's probably an amazing experience.

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  8. Did they ask you to "save" the leaves for "later?". Awesome pics, great photography work there. It's like we're all right there with you. How's your nose?

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  9. Randeep12:04 PM

    Hello, fellow Raveler (and I see you're a fellow Clevelander, too!). This post is amazing... what a great travel opportunity.

    Aren't those little dogs the cutest? We're still getting to know Sophie, but love her more each day. Today Adam gave a bit of a yell about something and she got so nervous she started walking around on three legs with one tucked up beneath her. I think she had a bad life before she came to us, but you can see she's getting more adventurous all the time!

    Thanks for the comment! I've been feeling like nobody reads my blog. I look forward to reading another Clevelander/knitter's posts!

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  10. Fabulous photos!! Oh and that lodge is just dreamy!!!
    I'm afraid that bugs are just part of the package!

    When I lived in Egypt, I had gigantic earwigs in my room all the time. Once, I was freaking out so much that I sprayed an entire can of Raid on one and the "thing" chopped its own head off. I am not sure what traumatized me the most - their presence or their kamikaze manners!

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  11. absolutely amazing! i'm obviously behind in reading your blog, but i'm loving the catch-up! : )

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