Our excitement was palpable that we got to visit the Amazon jungle during this trip. So appreciative to Harry Hilderbrand who helped us organise the trip through his biology teacher contacts. The whole jungle area is so alive and full of intricate, strange, amazing and superb biodiversity. It’s like nature on steroids! Seeing the Amazon has been a dream forever though also a bit scary for me cause I have watched too many of those nature shows about piranhas etc. Never in my imagination would I actually be swimming in piranha full waters! I’ll let the kids describe the experience…….
Today we travelled to the Amazon Jungle from Lima to Puerto Maldonado. We had to catch a taxi, then 2 planes, a bus then a boat to our lodge. It looked like the plane landed in the middle of nowhere.
The first landing was in Cusco and it was like in a valley surrounded by mountains that looked like a desert. The second landing was in a small town called Puerto Maldonado and it is close to the jungle. We saw the rivers from high in the sky and it looked like small and completely brown water.
It’s actually a really wide river but it looked small from the sky and it was so curvy. Now we are in the lodge and it is almost 8pm which is dinner time. There is only electricity in the kitchen and the bar area from 6pm – 10pm and then all the other areas we have to use candles or torches.
There is only cold water from 5am – 10pm to wash in. It comes from the river and they have to purify it, then you can have a cold shower. The drinking water though is purified water and very clean. At 6pm our guide took us for a night walk in the rainforest and it was alive with insects, frogs and spiders. There were owls hooting in the distance and the biggest rat in the world was making it’s sounds – it’s called the bamboo rat.
Our guide showed us a huge tarantula – he led it out of its nest with a small stick and it was really cool. We had to stay still because if we move it feels the movement and it is actually blind. It was very big – the biggest spider I’ve ever seen. And hairy!
When we were getting here by boat we saw some red macaws and they were beautiful. I really want to see the blue and yellow winged macaw because I think they are so beautiful. I cannot wait to see some monkeys – they come out in the daytime and it’s guaranteed that you’ll see them if you go out in the jungle. There are little monkeys and large monkeys.
I would also love to see some big tree frogs and some beautiful butterflies. On the boat we did get to see some green butterflies and the guide Joel said they were circling around the mud to get the sulphur out of it. It doesn’t make much sense to me. It would also be cool to see the big bamboo rat but it’s not so common in the day time.
Dinners coming soon so hasta luego (that means see you later in Spanish). By Yasmina
Today we had a very interesting day with our guide Paul – he took us around the Amazon Jungle. Of course not all of it because it is so so big. I bet if you came here for five years, six even – you couldn’t see all of it.
Anyway, this morning he took us piranha fishing. To get to the lake we caught a boat down the Tambopata river and then walked for about 25 minutes to get to the piranha lake.
When we were walking we saw some cappuccino monkeys and they like to go together with some other monkeys called squirrel monkeys. So that they look after them. The cappuccino monkeys are the size of a big book and the squirrel monkeys are smaller. We saw a bird that is like an owl called a potoo. It had a baby with it. We also saw some red macaws when we were close to the lake. They’re very beautiful.
The boat we went on the lake with was two canoes attached together and then some wood over the canoes. It was pretty nice and called a catamaran. I didn’t catch a piranha but I caught a few sardines. Mum caught the only one because it was starting to get too late in the day and they get hot. Others caught some dog fish which Paul was very excited because he hadn’t seen that many of them.
We were the first group of the year to catch dog fish. He didn’t let us touch them because they can bite off your fingers. The dog fish were grey with a yellow stripe in the middle of their bellies. They can last out of the water for 2 and a 1/2 minutes. When it was later in the day we went swimming – at first we were scared of the piranhas and Paul said there weren’t piranhas in the middle of the lake because they like to stay close to the shore.
So we ended up all going swimming and I just couldn’t help myself – it was so hot and humid today that I couldn’t even take photos with my iPod cause it got disabled from the heat. The swimming was so cooling – I just jumped in with my clothes because we didn’t bring our bathers. I didn’t exactly jump in – Toby pushed me in! The water was really warm on the surface but cooler about 1/2 a metre down. The lake was much cleaner than the big river which is completely brown.
If you put your hand in the Tambopata river about three inches you can’t even see your hand.
We were back at the lodge by 1.30pm and that’s lunch time. We had a nice lunch of rice, chicken, Peruvian baked beans and salad. Then we had about two hours to rest because it was the hottest part of the day. I went to our room and read my book and rested. At 3.45pm Paul took us out again but this time not on the rivers but into the jungle. He showed us how in the olden days the indigenous people hunted birds. They got a piece of hollow bamboo and got some big thorns from bushes and put venom on the end of the thorn. Then they waited for the birds to come closer and they blowed the thorn through the hollow piece of bamboo which went flying through the air and hit the bird. He put a leaf against some trees and we all had a go at trying to hit the leaf with our thorn, but ours didn’t have any venom of course.
He also showed us some fruit trees. There’s a fruit called a star fruit. It’s almost like a mango shape but it has some wedges which made it look like a star shape. Paul cut it up with his big knife and he gave us some to try. I didn’t really like it because it was a bit bitter but I ate it. When they make it into juice at the lodge I like it a lot better.
Paul made some indigenous clothes out of big leaves. It was really cool. He made a crown and a skirt but they didn’t really wear any tops but of course we were wearing tops.
We walked further down the trail and he made some claws that looked like witch claws made out of flowers. He was so amazing. We were in the jungle for about 2 hours then the sun was going down so we went back to the lodge. Now we are waiting for our dinner by candlelight cause there’s not much electricity. The food has been very traditional but very nice. See ya later.
Today was an absolutely awesome day. We went back into the amazon jungle and our guide Paul made us some jungle whistles out of hollow pieces of bamboo. They made a high pitched sound and the longer ones make a recorder type of sound. We also went to a swamp we were going to look for animal footprints but it had been raining which made the footprints disappear. Instead some of us made wax prints of our hands. First we had to put our hands deep in the clay and mud and then pour hot wax into the shape. Paul was very well organised.
While we were waiting for the wax to dry we went to a massive massive tree with a tree house at the top. We tried to climb on the vines but they were wet so we got up as high as we could and it was still lots of fun.
He also taught us how to weave grass and we made bracelets. He knows lots about the jungle. He can answer every question we ask him within 2 seconds. For example we asked him what kind of bird makes that sound and he knows the answers within a second or two. There are sounds all the time in the jungle. It takes a while for you to get used to them.
For lunch we had lots of yummy food but one thing that was strange and interesting was bush potatoes. They were almost between a potato and a banana.
Just before we were going for our afternoon walk we saw some squirrel monkeys and cappuccino monkeys. The squirrel monkeys are so small and adorable. The cappuccino monkeys are a bit bigger. They were looking for bananas.
In the afternoon we planted three trees that are rare and good for the environment. The tree is called an Aidon tree, and it’s getting more rare because farmers cut it down to make charcoal. Something else that was really interesting is a leaf that he showed us that people used to use for dying. You put the leaf in your hands with a drop of water and rubbed into your palm. The colour that comes out is a dark purple. Paul used it to do face painting on us.
At the end of our afternoon we went to the beach at the river and it was all muddy. The banks were very muddy and we got soooooo dirty and made mud balls and threw them at each other. There were lots of water hog prints in the mud so we stayed away from them and made some wax prints of them. Kalika got on her hands and knees and started crawling and she called her prints the ‘Kneeosaurus’ prints. Emilio was the muddiest hands down. Toby slipped as soon as we got to the muddy banks and he thought it was my fault and started chasing me but I got away. Zoi started out with purple shorts that turned into brown shorts.
At the end Kalika says ‘Yasmina, I’ve never known you to get your clothes so dirty’. Until she said that I didn’t realise that my clothes were so dirty. So I had some fun washing my clothes in the cold shower. However it is so hard to dry anything in this humidity.
The walk back to the lodge always feels much shorter. It was good to get clean again.
Paul took us to the jungle and he made an amazing skirt for me. He also made us some finger nails out of some flowers – it was so cool. He also made a nose and some ears. We saw some monkeys in the morning and we went on a boat and I went fishing and caught a piraña together with my mum.
It had small teeth but very sharp and they can bite off your skin. I also caught some butterflies and had lots of them on my skirt and my hands. I liked the king jungle hat that Paul made for Toby. Walking in the jungle was so exciting and seeing the monkeys. At the lodge they have some biscuits and I love them. Paul let the piranha eat some of Yasi’s biscuit to show how sharp their teeth are. We went swimming in the lake and had a very very nice day because we saw lots of exciting stuff. I really loved the skirt Paul made for me but seeing the jungle was my favourite thing.
Today we woke up at 5.00am to go bird watching with Paul. We went on a short boat ride to the other side of the river where there was a bird watching hut set up. The best time to see birds is at sunrise in this area.
We saw green parrots, blue winged macaws and parakeets. They were eating the clay to get the salt, vitamins and nutrients they need. The place they go to is called a ‘Clay lick’. Most of these birds are endangered because of their predators and poachers which means that people catch them to sell to people who want to keep birds in cages. Another reason is because each bird normally has one baby per year so it takes a long time to get the numbers up by breeding.
When we got back to the lodge we only had a little bit of time to pack and then have breakfast and a short relax on the hammocks before we had to get back on the boat for the 1.5 hour trip to where the minivan picked us up to take us back to Puerto Maldonado. We had quite a few hours to wait in Puerto Maldonado before our overnight bus to Cusco. Therefore, we got to go to the local market which was very cheap so I got some new runners – my old ones were small because I had been wearing them for a year. I also got new thongs cause my old ones were falling apart. I even bought some gel for my hear – I was so pleased with my purchases – I think everything was very cheap.
Our Amazon jungle trip was really interesting because we got to see and learn so many different things. The nature there was wonderful. I would really like to go again one day.
I really enjoyed seeing some of what the jungle has to offer. I knew there would be layers and layers of biology, flora and fauna… I never realised the layers of kids activities……. Enormous credit to Paul our guide. He pitched our time with him with perfectly. Reading the kids blog pieces really portrays that too. One thing that they haven’t mentioned though is the big machete he walked around with; helpful for clearing the path, and of course making swings… He made a great swing for Tarzan like swinging…
I hope the photos help to tell the tale…
By Mama MiliKing