The Amazon basin

Trip Start Sep 07, 2004
Trip End Aug 15, 2005

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Flag of Peru  ,
Monday, May 16, 2005

After chilling for a day in Cusco after the Inca trail we got on a 25 minute plane journey to Puerto Maldonado to see the jungle. The other option would have been to go by road via a lorry carrying diesel and would take between 5 days and a week to get there, and up to 2 weeks in the rainy season! So plane it was.
The lodge we stayed in was lovely, basic but very comfy, all open plan (no windows or doors anywhere so that you were always in touch with the sounds and the sights of the jungle. You went to sleep listening to the strangest sounds and woke up listening to even stranger ones; Howler monkeys, other monkeys and an array of birds that made the most amazing sounds, these were usually the dullest looking birds where as the most colourful usually just squarked. Having stayed in Taman Negara rainforest in Malaysia a few years ago we were expecting more insects and creepy crawlies, but this part of the jungle more than made up for it with it`s variety of birds. On the first day, with our guide Kike, we went up to the 40 metre canopy where we witnessed a most glorious sunset with moonlight aswell. The next day we awoke at 4.30 am and went to watch birds and giant river otters in the Oxbow lake, I can't tell you what birds we saw as I`ve forgotten most of them, but I remember Kingfishers, Macaws and Vultures. We were very lucky to see the giant river otters as there are only 45 left in Peru now as they are an endagered species. One of the guides caught a Piranha for us to have a look at it`s teeth before letting it go.

One day we went to the medical garden where various plants native to the Amazon are grown to treat illness for the local people (the local hospital). One plant was a natural viagra and the effects lasted up to 3 months (when required!) Another plant called cats claw is used to treat cancer but has already been patented and is used as conventional medinine in the west today. One which helps your blood clot, one which is an anaesthetic, pain relief, mosquito repelent, a plant`s leaves used as a natural perfume to help you get a partner! (and it does smell gorgeous) and one which produces a lovely red dye. Plus many more. This was the most fascinating of all to me and it makes you think about how many other unknown species there are in the Amazon which we could use, which we may lose if we`re not careful.

Other birds we saw were a pygmy owl, a blue headed matmut, plus more. On our last night we saw a gold headed woodpecker which was beautiful, but unfortunately no jaguars.

We`re now back in Cusco after saying our farewells to Ali who`s gone home (we wont be far behind her now!). We have spent the last few days relaxing, and as Rich lost quite a bit of weight from his dysentry, we have visited plenty of restaurants including "The Fallen Angel", "Macondo" and "Pacha Papa's" which all must be visited if ever you find yourselves in Cusco. Also, a bit of time spent in bars and in one tiny one close to our Hostal we got to know Tayo and his Mum Saira. It was here that we met a couple of lads (one from Lima and one from Chile) called Odi and Jorge so we`re off clubbing with them tonight. Then wednesday Rich plays footie with them while I shop.

In 4 days we go to Puno and Lake Titicaca for 3/4 days before going to Bolivia.
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