We set off from Puerto Maldonado on what has to be the highlight of any trip I’ve been on to date; to visit Tambopata National Reserve. Hello Amazon Rainforest! Eight girls and out tour guide Esau took off down the river to start the most wonderful adventure of all.
Our first stop was to go walking through a tree top canopy and zip lining 80 metres up. Oh my, what a view. We also had a chance to chill out in some hammocks, on ground level of course, eat lunch and enjoy the nature all around us. Monkeys swung low and close to the huts, fabulously coloured parrots landing an arms stretch away and in indescribable hum of music created by the rainforest. We also had a chance to go kayaking along the river to soak up the atmosphere from another angle. It was extremely relaxing and peaceful. Until I saw a caiman (similar to an alligator) swimming near my kayak! Every time a floating log or anything else came near I panicked and couldn’t wait to get back to the safety of the boat.
We also went to Monkey Island where Esau pointed out the many monkeys hiding amongst the branches. He told us about the different type of monkeys we saw. The most common being the Capuchin monkey.
The next stop was to check into the Tambopata reserve. We stopped at a cabin where out passports were stamped and where there was lots of information on all the different types of wildlife that we might come across. We hiked through the rainforest, then canoed across lake Sandoval to what would be our base for the next few days. The sweltering heat and humidity all worthwhile for our little slice of paradise that awaited. It’s a beauty like no other, all of your senses are assaulted at once, the views, the heat, the sound, the smell. It is blissful. The cabins where squeezed around the trees and hammocks hanging haphazardly around the place. The cool showers were a welcome attempt to freshen up.
Our days were spent exploring on land and water, enjoying amazing sunrises and sunsets and hearing all sorts of information and stories from our crazy intelligent and knowledgeable guide Esau. We saw: giant otters, turtles, herons, monkeys, caiman, wild boar, parrots, butterflies, spiders, but to name a few. Our guide always having us in the right place, at the right time, so that we got the most from our experience.
We rowed across the lake watching the giant otters swim and jump. Monkeys jumped through trees following our boat as we stayed close to the lake shore. We went for a walk through a section of the rainforest where the trees were 300+ years old such as fig trees, and walking palm trees. We had some fun climbing trees and swinging from vines just like in the childhood cartoons. We went to a quiet bay where you could go into the water if you dared. Only three of the girls were brave enough for that as they had to constantly bang a stick around to ward off any unwanted visitors such as caiman! Esau caught a baby caiman with his bare hands for us to see and hold before putting him back.
As we ate in the evenings we flicked through photos and Esau told us the correct names for all the creatures we had seen He also told us about the “non-contact” people. A special area of the rainforest that is closed and for them only. The two main tribes are the “Genie” meaning tall and hairy and the “Machiguenga” meaning short. (Phonetic spelling based on our guides pronunciation) He also told us that they believed in cannibalism, what a lovely bed time story!
The sounds and beauty of the Rainforest are something everyone needs to experience. No matter how hard anyone tries I believe no piece of writing or pictures could possibly capture the vast beauty there is to experience here.