Rumble in the Jungle

Trip Start Sep 03, 2007
Trip End Jul 03, 2008

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Flag of Peru  , Iquitos,
Thursday, May 15, 2008

Having arrived in Iquitos via the slow boat from Leticia and been saved from the hording masses by a very friendly taxi man/rep for a hostel we were being winged through the streets of the surprisingly large and bustling Iquitos. Our hostel was called La Golondora and even sported a swimming pool. Not too bad for 15 soles each. On arrival at the hostel we were immediately given the hard sell on the Wolf Adventures trip to the Jungle. The Jungle had been on the list but for Bolivia not Peru, but seeming as our time was running out we decided to just go ahead and do it.... In order to help our bartering we left our hostel for a few hours and headed for Belen Market and the Floating Village.

The Belen Market has just about everything that you would ever possible not need! The diversity is amazing and each section is split into different sections. Rows for Medicine, Amazonian cigarettes, food (including Kayman and Turtle) and not very stylish clothing. Upon our arrival we were immediately greeted by a young local guide who was keen to take us our on a canoe to see the floating village. For 15 soles we agreed and ventured down from the market to the river side. The river height moves alot during the year and we arrived as it was half way. The what-would-be-streets in about a month were absolutely filthy. Piles of mud and rubbish were piled along the pavements. As the water descends peoples ground floors become free and families were clearing out the mud and readying the rooms for habitation again. It was a mad sight and must be a surreal existence! Our man acquired a boat and paddled us out to the village. The whole set up was amazing. There were shops, schools, hospitals and nightclubs. They even catered for those who were in need of some female attention. Modern dance music could be heard from these basic wooden huts. (video attached - hopefully).

On our return to the market Caroline decided to sample some amazonian fish. unfortunately we never really established what it actually was but it did look very weird indeed.

Day 1:

Back at the hostel we confirmed our 4 day/3 night Amazonian adventure (680 soles for both). It turned out that there were actually going to be quite a group of us. 3 Australians, Di and Tay, 2 Spanish, 2 Czech, 1 Pole, 1 Austrian and 1 other.... Not quite the intimate experience we were hoping for! At 6.30 the next morning we were all herded on to a bus and driven to Nauta (about 1.5 hours). On arrival at Nauta we were shown round the market where again it was split into very clear sections. Fruit juices were a highlight and a gutted Kayman at the the lower end!! Caroline and I, in our normal organised way, had both misplaced out rain jackets so had acquire some new ponchos. At 15 Soles or 3 pounds these things were hardly the height of fashion but did prove to be surprisingly effective.

We were split up into two groups and moved onto two long boats for the 2.5 hour journey into the Amazon forest. Our Final Destination would be 260 km away from Iquitos. The rain forest was true to is name and within an hour of our journey the heavens opened and the ponchos were on.

At midday we arrived at the jungle lodge to be greeted by a few things we were not expecting! 1: another group of 6 people. 2: a very modern set up with showers and loos. Not really the rural experience we were hoping for. 3: an absolutely stunning meal.

The lodge was in fact amazing and even came with a capuchino monkey! We quickly let our disappointment slide when we realised this could actually be quite a pleasant way to live. The Jungle has two annoyances... mozzies and Rain. In the lodge we were sheltered from both!

On the first afternoon we took a boat up the river in search of Amazonian wildlife. Most people who do these trips expect to see everything the jungle has to offer. in reality it ainīt like that.... On our first excursion we saw some Toucans, a woodpecker and a red headed Iguana. May not sound like much but in the wild not a bad haul! The Sloth we were dying to see remained hidden....

After another cracking dinner Manuel, the "I am a better traveler than you" Austrian, and I went for a ad lib night trek through the Jungle. Armed with torches and machetes we hacked our way into the unknown. The whole jungle lit up with eyes staring at us. Eyes of spiders, moths, stick insects etc. This was a great intro to the jungle.
on our return the rest had discovered one of the Lodge's pets. A giant hairy Tranchula!

Day 2:

After breakfast our guide marched us off into the jungle in search of plants, animal, birds and basically lots of trees. The walk was about 4 hours longs and was actually extremely interesting. Our man pointed out plants that were used for medicinal purposes, trees used in building canoes and houses, what leaves were good mozzies repellents etc. The jungle itself was dense with hundreds of different varieties of trees ranging from the huge to the fat and small to thin.

In the afternoon we were shipped off to the local village to see Amazonian life. The town was home to 800 people and catered for all their needs. There were 2 bars, a school, football pitch and doctor. It may have been a little muddier than other towns weīd seen but this could be due to the fact the whole village is moving..... The Spanish in our group asked to have a look at the arts and crafts on offer. After 10 ladies carefully laid out all their goods the Spanish decided they no longer were interested and disappeared. Caroline and I were left to acquire a very naff necklace to make there effort worth while....

On our return Mr Sloth appeared and surprisingly in a tree next to our lodge.....

After dinner we went on a kayman (small alligator like reptile). Ten of us crammed into a boat at 10pm and over the light of a torch paddled down the river. The hunt was on... The hunt was also off quite quickly as well. The inlet we were intending to navigate was actually clogged up and our big boat was unable to cut through. Our guides left us in the safe hands of a chap who appeared from nowhere and continued the search.... After about 30 minutes their torches broke through the branches and they victoriously pulled up along side us with a kayman who looked rather scared by 10 torch bearing tourists. The photos pretty much explain the rest (when they finally get put up)

Day 3:

Another jungle walk though in a different location. This time we actually saw people making canoes from whole trees. The insects were the main attraction of the day. Caterpillars, spiders and ants of all different sizes oozed out from behind leaves and bark. This section of jungle was home to the much exploited rubber trees from the turn of the century. The trees still bear the scares from where the rubber was tapped, amazing to see.

Manuel decided that we was not coming on our afternoon excursion to the giant water lilies so Di, Tay, Caroline and I set off once again in the boat for the lake. After paddling down some small estuaries we glided into a magnificent lake teeming with bird life. Small birds rested on the giant (1.5m) lily leaves, Collared eagles soared overhead and all sang to each other. So far this was the best bit of our adventure....

Three days in the Jungle had taken it out of our fellow group members so that evening it was just Caroline and I would headed out into the jungle for another night walk. This time with guides in tow we managed to located and catch the largest frog I have ever seen in my life. hopefully the pictures will do it justice!!!

Day 4:

After a disastrous Piranha fishing trip we set off for Iquitos (Caroline did catch a fish back at the lodge), all a little tired and bitten to shreds by the insects... As our last treat of the trip we saw pink Amazonian dolphins swimming and playing as we sailed past in our boat.

All in all it was an amazing trip. We saw a sloth, giant frog, monkeys, dolphins, bats, insects, kingfishers, woodpeckers, trachulas and a whole host of other animals. Successful trip all round!

After the Trek

In our usual hurried fashion we were off to Cusco which would entail an hour flight and a 30 hour bus journey. But before we left Iquitos we managed to squeeze in a visit to the local zoo where we saw all the animal we hadnīt in the jungle. Although some of the animal looked a little unsettled by the caged life the zoo was in fact a great way to spend a couple of hours.
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