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Chapter 5:








Day 12) Fly to Puerto Maldonado then Boat to Jungle Lodge

This morning we flew from Cuzco to Puerto Maldonado to the east where we have reservations at a lodge deep in the jungle. On final approach to Puerto Maldonado I'm looking out of the plane window and seeing nothing but vast expanses of thick jungle pierced by the occaasional winding river. We are met at the airport by representatives of Refugio Amazonas, our jungle lodge. They load us up on a small beat-up shuttle bus and drive us 5 minutes to their headquarters. There we repack our luggage, taking only our most needed items, leaving the rest locked up in a storage locker at their headquarters. They like to minimize the luggage they have to load onto their boats that will take us up river to the lodge. Once we've repacked, it's back onto a school bus for a 45 minute ride down a bumpy, meandering dirt road thru the jungle to the boat docks. There's a primative general store there for any last minute purchases. Then we board the long skinny boats that will take us upriver. The boat ride upriver takes about 3 hours against the current. It's lunch time so they serve us lunch which consists of fried rice wrapped up in a banana leaf. It was really good! Of course, by now I was really hungry also. You don't eat the banana leaf, but instead throw it overboard. No mess, no fuss, no utensils or dirty dishes to clean up.

The airport at Puerto Maldonado.
The busses finally arrived at the river. There's a last chance "General Store" there for any last minute items. The path down the steps to the river and the boats is infront of the busses.

Once we arrive at the lodge boat dock, it's a 5 minute walk thru the jungle to the lodge. The lodge is beautiful. A giant A-frame wooden structure, all open to the outside. Off to either side are wooden catwalks leading to the visitor lodging rooms. Off to the back are the staff rooms, offices and kitchen. The major part of the lodge is taken up by the large dining area. The visitor rooms are like very simple motel rooms. The door is just a cloth shower curtain. There's no ceiling in the room except for the building roof. The walls are bamboo with some black plastic sheet laminated in the middle to provide privacy between rooms. One wall of the room is missing, you're open to the jungle. The bathroom has a sink, toilet and shower, all using cold water only. The beds have mosquito neting that you lower at night when you go to bed. Everything is designed to be open and airy to prevent mold, fungus and jungle rot. All the buildings are up on pilings to keep you off the damp jungle floor.

This is the front entrance to the lodge. It's a large open-air wooden structure.

The main part of the building is taken up by the dining hall where the meals are served buffet style.

Diane is standing in the doorway to our room.

This was our room. One wall is totally open to the jungle.

After a brief introduction to the lodge, we're given supper and the chance to get to bed early. We're supposed to get up early for our first morning jungle expedition!

Day 13 & 14) Explore Jungle

We spent the next two days taking guided field trips thru the surrounding jungle with our knowledgable young guide Lizzie. We took a trip in the morning and afternoon of each day. Twice we went to towers/scaffolds that we climbed to get us up to the tops of the jungle canopy. From there we could look out for miles over the vast expanse of jungle. We saw parrots and macaws flying by and also perching in nearby trees. Two other times we went to animal blinds that overlooked watering holes. We sat in the blinds and waited for animals, but unfortunately, none ever came while we were there.

We also went out at night. The first evening, we went out in the boat on the river looking for caymans (small alligators). The guide would shine a spot light over the water and look for their eyes reflecting in the light. The boat driver would then cautiously approach the eyes as close as he could so we could spot the cayman.

On the second evening we walked to a nearby lake where we boarded a small barge that a boat driver sculled around the shoreline. We saw many new bird species in the trees and bushes along the lake shoreline.

Here we are sitting in one of the blinds, waiting for animals to come to a watering hole.

We "barged" around a small lake one evening and observed many new species of birds.
This is the boat that took us from the airport up the river to the lodge. It also took us on local river trips.

Day 15) Leave Jungle and Return to Lima

Leave Refugio Amazonas, boat and bus to airport

In the evening we took a walk from our hotel to the nearby cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The view, while foggy, was still beautiful. There we found an upscale shopping mall carved into the side of the cliffs. The stores were very simialr to ones found back in the states. We had a nice supper in a restaurant there overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

The mall built into the side of the cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean. It was a very nice mall with stores similar to those back here in the states. There's more mall behind me.

Day 16) Attempt to leave Lima

We woke up early, about 4 am, to get our taxi to Lima airport for our early morning flight home. When we arrived, the scene is mass bedlam, total confusion, and long lines. It turns out that our American Airlines flight home to Miami has been cancelled!. We end up waiting about 4 hrs in a long line to get to the ticket agent to get our vouchers for a hotel for the night and for meals. The airline arranged for taxis to take us to the hotels.

We finally checked into our hotel just in time for lunch. Then we try to figure out what to do with the rest of the day. We found a nearby tourist flea market where we spent the rest of the afternoon shopping for more unneeded trinkets.

Day 17) Finally Leave Lima and Return to Baltimore

Nobody at the hotel could tell us when in the morning the shuttle service was gonna show up to take us back to the airport. We were afraid to go to sleep and miss the bus. It was around 4am, I was restless, tired, bored, and couldn't sleep so I made a trip down to the front desk. Lo and behold, there was the shuttle bus! I quickly called my wife Diane and our friend Buz back in their rooms and told them to throw some clothes on and get down stairs right away! Fortunately, we were all able to get ourselves and our luggage on the bus before it left. This time when we arrived at the airport, yesterday's chaos was replaced with order and we were able to get on our plane and return home to the states. Once in Miami, our American flights to Baltimore were of course delayed, but it didn't matter anymore cause we were atleast back in the continental USA. We eventually did make it back to our home later that day.

The End




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last revised : August 26, 2009