The earth is alive here – Brazil nuts are gathered from gorgeous trees, fruits are ripened on trees and consumed the same day, medicinal plants are used to cure most ailments, and animals and human beings have learnt to live in harmony. It’s hard not to fall in love with Mama Nature in the Peruvian rainforest.
Exploring the Amazon rainforest has long been a dream of mine. It’s one of the most enigmatic and remote regions on earth, so it would pique my fancy every time I’d look at its pictures in a magazine spread or a documentary. When the time came to go to Peru, I was sure I wanted to venture into the mighty Amazon Rainforest. It had to feature on our itinerary of Peru.
Some preliminary research revealed that the dense vegetation and sheer distance from civilisation makes it really hard to produce electricity or hot water. Of course, internet or mobile connectivity are near impossible. I must confess this left me a bit weary.
So I dug deeper. That was when I chanced on Rainforest Expeditions Peru. After reading several glowing reviews on Tripadvisor I decided to check it out for myself. Imagine my surprise when I saw 24 hour hot water, power supply, electric fans in the middle of the humid jungle, meals made from organic produce, and even an internet connection – I was sold! This was going to be the one. I broke into a jig. I was going to explore the Amazon Rainforest after all.
Four months later, we arrived at a tiny airport in Western Peru. Puerto Maldonado, a short flight away from both Lima and Cusco, is the gateway to the Peruvian Rainforest. But the journey didn’t end here. Two representatives from our hotel met us at the airport and offered us cold towels, much needed in the hot and humid weather. They accompanied us on an hour long bus ride on a bumpy road out of Puerto Maldonado but this wasn’t the end of our journey either.When I said remote, I meant REMOTE. A 2.5 hour boat ride and 20 minute walk later we had finally arrived 🙂
There are a few different lodges in close proximity in this neck of the woods, 4 hours away from the nearest motorable road – Posadas Amazonas & Refugio Amazonas have around 30 rooms each – they are perfect for groups and families but we opted for the Amazon villa – a standalone bungalow that offers the ultimate in privacy and romance. We were greeted by dozens of butterflies and the cries of tropical birds as we made our way through the Jungle to the villa. The house is an eco friendly structure made entirely out of wood with an extra-large sitting room, private bar, dining area, fully-equipped kitchen, bathroom with toiletries made from the fruits of the jungle, and a spacious bedroom with a large bed and a hammock. Why a hammock, you ask? It’s because our villa had just 3 walls – the fourth “wall” was the rainforest.
It took us one evening to get accustomed to the ritual of slathering litres of sunscreen and insect repellent, being around creepy crawlies, sleeping next to the forest, and waking up to the sounds of birds and howler monkeys. By the second day we felt truly at one with nature.
The next 4 days were spent marvelling at the sheer wonders of Mama Nature. Cliched as it may sound, it’s easy to forget the magical nature of Earth when we are surrounded by tall buildings and malls. Here in the lap of nature, everything is different. The earth is alive here – Brazil nuts are gathered from gorgeous trees, fruits are ripened on trees and consumed the same day, medicinal plants are used to cure most ailments, and animals and human beings have learnt to live in harmony. It’s hard not to fall in love with Mama Nature in the Peruvian rainforest.
We had an amazing guide, Juan Carlos, all to ourselves. He took upon himself the mammoth task of acquainting us with the intricacies of the rainforest. On our first morning in the jungle we took a 2 hour boat ride on the Tambopata river and went even deeper into the forest to a tiny island to see dozens of Macaws feasting on salty cliffs. Armed with binoculars, we sat in complete silence for over two hours. Every morning, between 7 am and 10 am, these gorgeous birds visit this clay cliff. They congregate to feed on clay that helps protect their digestive systems from the toxins they ingest while feeding on poisonous seeds and leaves in the jungle. The Tambopata Reserve is the most bio-diverse region in the world and one of the rare places where human beings can view such large gatherings of colourful macaws.
That afternoon Juan Carlos took us deep into the pristine rainforest and introduced us to the Brazil nut trees – the tallest trees in the rainforest. Most trees on the trail we followed were higher than 150 feet. Juan Carlos showed us how Brazil nuts are collected by local farmers and exported to countries all over the world. We spotted small agoutis, mammals that resemble guinea pigs, munching on Brazil nuts. I don’t blame them because Brazil nuts taste absolutely decadent here in the rainforest. The richness is addictive – it’s nothing like the packaged, sanitised taste we’re used to.
Needless to say, this foray into the mighty rainforest left us sweaty. We walked in for a quick shower and a change of clothing once we reached the villa. But imagine our surprise when we opened the door of our bathroom to find 10 fragrant candles surrounding a bubble bath, drawn just for us. Floating on top – 4 kinds of wild flowers picked from the forest 🙂 Thoroughly relaxed from the bath, we sipped on Pisco sours and lazed to the sound of dew drops in our living room.
Our adventures continued well into the next day. We spent the evening climbing 150 steps to reach the top of a canopy from where we could see miles and miles of the rainforest. We were higher than the tallest Brazil Nuts trees and could see the tops of thousands of trees. We stood in silence as the sun set over thousands of tropical trees. We couldn’t hear a thing except the chirping of birds and the rhythmic humming of insects- music for the soul!! But this spectacular sunset wasn’t the end of nature’s wondrous show. As we looked up, we saw thousands of stars and lo, behold the Milky Way. The two of us stood there for the better part of an hour, marvelling at the millions of stars in the pitch dark environs of the rainforest – a sight we’ve never quite seen in the city.
Astounded by nature’s dazzling theatrics, we returned to our villa in a daze. But the wafting aroma of a delicious meal being cooked by our personal chef in our kitchen seduced us into normalcy. We could spot our li’l dining table, surrounded by dozens of candles, adorned with wild flowers and wine glasses for dinner.
If you are a regular reader of Bruised Passports, you would know that I have a serious soft spot for fresh fruits and vegetables. I dislike stodgy breads and cakes with a vengeance. Our personal chef, Chef Fernando, was the answer to all my prayers – he believes in spinning tales with fresh fruits, herbs, and vegetables like nobody else I have met.
At every meal, we had an elaborate menu to choose from. Vid tried local Peruvian delicacies like Aji De Gallina (Peruvian spicy chicken), Adobo de Chancho (Peruvian pork curry) while I relished the Quinuoa Timbale and squealed in delight when he produced a pineapple salad topped with pear foam, mango carpaccio topped with ground almonds, and a fruit salad sprinkled with flax seeds and glittering pomegranate pearls. In Europe, such food is the domain of wellness retreats. Here in the Amazon this is the only food they know – fresh, luscious, and full of flavour.
That’s the story of how I fell in love with the Peruvian Rainforest – I still can’t tell whether it was that Brazil nut tree, walking amidst hundreds of butterflies, reading a book on that hammock every afternoon, devouring endless fresh fruits and vegetables, or going for long serene walks in the rainforest – I just know I’m irrevocably in love with this remote wilderness & can’t wait to return.
- The town of Puerto Maldonado is a short flight away from Lima and Cusco
- If it’s your first foray in the rainforest, take a short 3-4 day vacation. It will help you decide if you like the setting or not.
- This is not the place for you if you are scared of creepy crawlies. There will be mosquitos, ants, moths, and the occasional caterpillar even in the most luxurious accommodation – that is the charm of it!
- You will see nature here like you have never seen it before – butterflies will sit on your hands allowing you to marvel at the gorgeous patterns on their wings, brightly coloured birds will hover over you, and the sky will be lit with thousands of stars because there is no ambient light so far from civilisation
- Carry full-sleeved shirts and long trousers to prevent insect bites.
- All accommodation provided by Rainforest Expeditions Peru is equipped with torches, insect repellents, gumboots to walk through the muddy rainforest, and everything you could possible need for this stay. Prices start at $450 for 3D/2N packages.
- It’s a bit of a luxury to have electricity, hot water, and wifi in a location as remote as this. But we had a 24 hour supply of hot water and electricity and 6-10 hours of wifi per day (something that still amazes me!) at the Amazon Villa.
- More information on their website www.perunature.com
- It can get very hot and humid in the jungle (duh!) so make sure you protect your electronic devices. Keep your laptops and cellphones stored away when not in use. Try to carry them around in waterproof casing. If your phone or laptop blanks out don’t freak out – it’s probably just the humidity. Request the staff at your hotel to keep it in a dry box for you. Et voila! It will be as good as new.
- Make sure you choose a hotel that has electricity, hot water, and internet if you need any of those facilities. Read the description of hotels carefully before you make a choice. Most amenities we take for granted are luxuries this deep in the rainforest.
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We were guests of Rainforest Expeditions Lodges in Puerto Maldonado. We are two extremely opinionated ninjas – so all views (good and bad) are entirely our own. Click on to read our full Disclosure Policy