Swimming with Piranas in the Amazon jungle
Trip Start Mar 10, 2011
23Trip End Ongoing
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We got to Coca early in the morning, checked into a hostel and had a little walk around. The town was very lively but there were no other tourists apart from us, and, worst of all, not a sign of any tour agencies. We walked and walked until eventually we saw a place called the Jungle lodge. Given it was the only English sign we had seen in the whole town, we decided to go inside and see if anyone could put us in the right direction for organizing a jungle tour. The place didnīt look like a tour agency, more like someoneīs house. We were greeted by an old man called Julio, he couldnīt speak much English but we managed to understand that he did have a boat and lodge in the jungle in which we could stay and best of all, his son spoke perfect English. We agreed on a 5 day expedition, all food, accommodation and transport included, all for $220 each which seemed reasonable.
We set off the next day at 9 am in his long motor boat, down the Rio Napo, one of the Amazonīs tributaries. We were the only people on the tour apart from Julioīs wife, who came along to keep him company. The river was really wide, with small communities that lived along the banks. We kept seeing massive boats full of tourists drive past us all with their life jackets on and cameras out
We got to our destination later on in that afternoon; it was on a smaller river that branched off the Rio Napo, about an hour from Paņacocha. This river was a lot nicer to sail along as it was slower and thinner, giving us more opportunity to see our surroundings. We stayed in a nice big jungle lodge. There were several lodges on the land but we were the only people there, which was nice. In the evening we had local food cooked by Julio's wife. The food was nice but a lot of the time we didnīt know what we were eating and didnīt want to know either. One of the meals consisted of fried larvae (see the photos); we didnīt want to offend them so we tucked in. They were slimy but didnīt taste at all bad, a bit like pesto
On the second day we went for a jungle walk. We didnīt get to see much as every time we walked towards an animal it would get scared and run away. All we saw was a squirrel, some sort of monkey from a distance, various birds and a few insects and frogs. In the afternoon we took a paddle canoe down the river and there we got to see a lot more. Travelling down the river was so peaceful and quiet as we didnīt have the noise from the engine as on the other boat. This was perfect as the animals couldnīt hear us coming. We got to see loads of monkeys jump about on the trees and heard the strangest noises coming from the various colourful birds.
On the second day we spent the whole day piranha fishing. We used smaller fish as bait. It was very tricky. I only managed to catch a small one and gave up after a while. Jamie caught a massive one. He had to be very careful as he pulled it up onto the boat as they can bite your toes off! In the evening they fried them, one of the best fish Iīve ever tasted, though everything tastes nice when fried. After dinner we went for a night jungle tour where we saw loads of spiders including a tarantulaīs in its nest
The next day a local fisherman passed by our lodge and reported a sighting of an anaconda caught in a fishing net further up stream. We immediately got in the paddle boat and went to rescue it. It was quite a young one, about 2 meters long (they can grow up to 20 meters). We took it into the boat and back to the lodge. In the meantime back at the lodge Julio had found a baby caiman. It looked a bit like a crocodile and we held it by the neck (see photos) so that it wouldnīt bite us. Once the anaconda was free from the net we got to hold that too. It wrapped itself round our arms and every now and then it would try and wrap its self round our neck so we had to be very careful. Then we let them free into the water. In the afternoon we went in search for fresh water dolphins but we had no luck so we returned to the lodge.
On the penultimate day we went hunting for larvae. The larvae lived inside dyeing palm trees, feeding on the insides of the tree. We had to chop the tree down and then cut it up to get to the larvae. After chopping down four trees we had enough larvae for lunch, Ed even tried one raw! The weather was so hot and humid that when we got back, we jumped straight into the river. In the afternoon we went to visit one of the family’s friend, who was a shaman. He showed us his lotions and potions and got us to join in a ritual
The last day was the trip back to Coca. We had had the most amazing and relaxing time in the jungle and Iīd recommend it to anyone, but try and book a tour with a local family like we did as I believe it makes a massive difference, giving you a more unique experience. For anyone wishing to go with Julio, his email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
Next stop Tena, for white water rafting. Make sure you all check out the photos!