Do it like they do on the Discovery Channel...

Trip Start Aug 28, 2010
Trip End Sep 25, 2010

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Where I stayed
Ceiba Tops - Explorama Lodge

Flag of Peru  ,
Monday, August 30, 2010

Iquitos is the largest city in the Peruvian rainforest and is located on the Amazon river. The city can only be reached by air or boat, and has an average humidity of 85%. And we dominated it.

We arrived to an airport the size of the one in Santa Barbara where we met our river guide, Lucio. We drove through the town, and through their market (which is intertwined through several city blocks), and eventually to the river. We loaded our gear into a boat and headed 25 miles up river (or 45 minutes) to our lodge. Raised 50 feet above the (current) water line, is where we stayed for the next 4 days.

We threw our gear down and ate lunch, the food in the Amazon was amazing. Fresh fish, fruit, rice, sweet potatoes, carne asada, and maize were staples in our diets - all grown or living within walking distance. No preservatives or hormones here, in your face Western diet. Let the record show, that this is where Matt´s 9 month ¨no red meat¨policy was broken, the 3rd day of our trip.

Within our first hour we had our first rainforest monsoon. An hour of terrential downpour. As the rains slowed, we boarded an open top boat, grabbed our rain gear, and took off up the Amazon. After about 20 minutes, we docked the boat against the muddy banks of the river, and ventured into the jungle. We walked through a small trail in the jungle, with wildlife all around us. We eventually got to a small village, where the local river tribe showed us a few of their huts, and performed native dances and song. The four of us got up and danced with a few female tribe members, and needless to say, we now have some new dance moves to bring back to the States. We also taught them a few of our favorite, go-to dance moves, such as ¨gettin down¨, ¨the lawn mower¨, and ¨C-walk¨.

On our way back to camp, we stopped by a small town ("Indiana") close to our dock. The town was preparing for a huge party that evening, and we walked through the town sampling tamales and other local market foods. Ryan was a hot topic around the town, as he was the only non-gringo visitor. After dinner that night, we headed off for a night time jungle excursion, with only Lucio and our flashlights. The jungle truly comes alive at night, and the number of sounds and how loud they are significantly increase at night. One of the highlights was pulling a tarrantula out of its hole (see pic), Bear Grills what?!?

Day 2, 5am wake up call. We take some gear and jump in the boat, heading up river for 75 miles, which took 1hour 45 minutes. As we ride up the river, the sun was just starting to rise. We arive at our destination, ExplorNapo Lodge, and are greated by a kaipibarra, or the worlds largest rodent - think a huge guinea pig that acts like a dog.

We head for a few mile hike into the jungle starting at the river to the Canopy Walkway. The walkway is made of 14 separate tree platforms in and throughout the top of trees. The canopy was built by hand, without the use of cranes or machines. At its highest point, the platform is 118 feet above the ground. At this point we are above a majority of the tree line and have a 360 degree view of the rainforest, 20 miles in any direction. It is hard to describe in words what we saw, so we have uploaded a bunch of pictures as to what the Canopy Walk was all about.

Before heading back to camp, the 4 of us comandeered a canoe made out of a shelled tree. We navigated it through the river, avoiding piranhas, crocs, and river snakes amidst the sweltering heat. No longer travellers, now we considered ourselves locals.

Later in the afternoon after a rain shower and our 1hour 45 min ride back to camp, we had some time to relax. The camp had a pool where we met some vaccioners from Lima and started a friendly game of pool volleybal that turned ugly when names started being called and short jokes busted out - height apparently has no translation issues.

Last full day in the Amazon. The 4 of us really did not want to do any tours or touristy activites. We asked Lucio to let us have a day in the life of someone who lives on the river. He agreed, we grabbed a boat driver ("Kiel"), our own small boat, a jug of water, a machette, and fishing gear. We agreed to only eat what we would catch. After about 30 min of heading up river, we boated off into one of the many thousand smaller rivers running into the Amazon. At one point the boat got  beached, as the water levels were at their lowest point for the year - luckily the 4 of us are super brave, and did not hesitate to jump into the danger filled waters and push us back into deeper waters.

We tied the boat to a fallen tree in a deeper part of the river, and started fishing for piranhas with nothing but stick fishing poles, line, and a chunk of meat. There were several epic battles that day, all ending with the piranha team winning. Matt did have a good fight with one, that ended with a fishing pole broken in half. Egos were hurt. Regardless we perservered on. Between our first fishing attempt and last fishing attempt we saw pink fresh-water doplphins, native solely to the Amazon.

Eventually we pulled into a part of the river where two streams combined. We tossed in the fishing nets, and ended up catcing roughly 20 or so fish, 4 different kinds. We even caught a catfish. Now we know we have lunch! (side note, see the pictures and videos of us trying to reel in the fish and dump them into the bucket).

Time for lunch. We head up river with our bucket of catch proudly in tow. We pull off at a mans home, which just so happens to be a rum ¨farm¨. ´What a strange coincidence. ´The man is named Armando, and he invites us in and offers us samples of his 4 types of rum called Aguardiente. We ended up buying 3 bottles from him. On side note, the big bottle we purchased is said to make you feel 25 years younger, so considering our age, we will see how that goes, but we digress...

We hand him the bucket of fish and his wife and daughters start to skin and prepare the fish for us to eat, while the rest of us enjoy some cold cusqueñas and sweat profusely. They add in a little bit of rice, tapioaca, and soup broth, and there we go. Lunch (see the pictures to fully understand what locals eat like every day). We had a fish head and fish eye eating contest, certainly not for the weak of stomach. Ryan started strong with one fish eye and three fish heads.  Not one to back down, Adam flexed his well defined biceps and 6-pack (ladies take note....) and scooped out the catfish eye gulping it down sans chaser. Eventually, Ryan outmatched the gringo and won the contest.  No surprise there, as his weekly Tuesday dinner is chicken feet from China town.       

We all really loved our time in the Amazon, especially this last day, where we headed off and felt immersed in the local culture and daily life. An experience unlike anything else we will probably have on the trip. In between hikes, fish eye eating, and monkeys - we had time to sit in hammocks over looking the river and read. Truly a place we all left saying, ýou know what¨we should do, just move down here and become tour guides¨.
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Aaron Cho on

Good work boys...looks like you're having an awesome time...great pictures!

andrea on

sounds incredible and looks like you boys are enjoying yourself. needless to say i'm very jealous!

Mom and Dad Trezza on

We love the detailed update and pictures. The walkway looked awlul scary to me. That fish lunch probably tasted good but it did not look appealing. Was the Aguardiente good like the one in Colombia? Keep the updates coming as often as possible. Be safe and have fun.

Sarah elizabeth on

I'm glad you got to see the pink dolphin and meet some nice people...I'm sure Mike enjoyed standing next to Armando.

Andres Garcia on

This is the sort of trip that changes lives, as it will give you a completely new view of a foreign world, and when you return home the experience will seem surreal.. Enjoy every moment, try to absorb all that surrounds you.
Be well and be safe

Corey on

Way to eat that fish head Ryan. It looked tasty.

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