Jungle Jump-Off

Trip Start May 04, 2007
Trip End May 25, 2007

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Flag of Peru  , Madre de Dios,
Sunday, May 13, 2007

When we exited the tiny airport at Puerto Moldonado, there were only 5 vehicles in the entire parking lot, one of them belonging to our jungle lodge. My group was now reduced to three - Yvette from the Machu Picchu group and Judith, another Brit who joined us in Cuzco. However, we were sharing transport with another group of 10 or so British travellers in the 40 to 55 range, bound for the same jungle lodge. The town reminded me of some dusty long-forgotten Mexican resort, a strange contrast to Cuzco. Instead of the heavy woolen ponchos worn in the highlands, the locals were wearing shorts, t-shirts, and flip-flops.  Rather than cars, the streets were crowded with  motorcycles and  motorbike taxis.  Much like in  Southeast Asia, the tiny motorcycles rarely have less than three people riding precariously on them.  

A dusty and bumpy 90 minute bus ride down a red dirt road closed in by forest on both sides, sometimes with vines from above brushing the roof, took us to the boat launch on the Tambopata River. The river, the color of chocolate milk from the silt and sediment it carries, eventually meets up with its big brother the Amazon River up north. It's lined along both sides by endless green jungle. As we stepped onto the boat, we were greeted by a dozen or so butterfiles flitting around us, one landing briefly on my arm. During our two hour boat ride, our guide slowed the boat a few times to point out wildlife - turtles, caimans (small crocodiles), various birds, and some very large rodents whose name I forget (sort of like the Rodents of Unusual Size from the Princess Bride!).
Very rarely, maybe 5 times during the trip, we saw a set of stairs presumably leading up to a lodge, but there were no other signs of human habitation. Finally we arrived at our own lodge, greeted by a bunch of tiny monkeys chattering and swinging in the trees high above our heads. Such cute and funny little things!
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