6 Weeks in Peru - Part 4
Updated: Jan 13
We left the hotel at 9.30am for our flight to Puerto Maldonado in the top end of the mighty Amazon, and then a 1.5hr bus ride and a 3hr boat ride to our lodge. We arrived at the lodge at about 4 pm.
Tambopata is a research station and lodge in the primary forest (old growth) in the southeast of Peru. The forest has had no human disturbance other than the lodge and that is why we chose to go there. Of course, the indigenous people would have used the area before the reserve was formed in 2000 but they would not have had any significant impact as the area has not been logged. We saw the largest tree, which was amazing, and heaps of other huge trees on the whole holiday, which was super special.
The weather was very hot, with 99% humidity and you sweated, welcome to the Amazon, except even the locals say it was extremely hot and sticky.
Up at 4am after noisy neighbours kept us awake until late. We were trying to sleep and be ready for a fantastic day ahead but the selfish person in the next room could only winge about a frog in her bathroom and the fact that there was no AC. We were in the middle of a beautiful rainforest and yes, it was extremely hot, but what did she expect?
We left the lodge at 4.45am for a 1hr boat ride down river to the Clay Lick, to see the Macaws and parakeets. It was a spectacular sight with hundreds of birds. There were at least 4 different species of Macaws and more of parrots and parrakeets. They come to the Clay Lick every day for about an hour and then fly away, and the Clay Lick goes quiet for ½ hour or so before another flock fly in and the show is all over by about 9.30am.
The guides told us the birds need the clay for mineral salts and to neutralise the poison in the seeds they eat. The guides and crew from the lodge served breakfast on the beach looking at the birds, the Clay Lick and the mighty Amazon.
Arrived back at the lodge about 10am. We tried to have a sleep, but the noisy neighbour spoiled that again. On the way to lunch we saw the noisy neighbour and asked her to keep the noise down. The response was a grunt.
It is amazing how the jungle goes quiet at about 10am, because of the heat of the day and the noise starts up again around 4pm as the day cools down.
The rooms are open on one side and the insects and other wildlife can come in and there is no sound proofing. We are connected to the jungle, except for mozzie nets over the beds. The lodge really needs fans and there doesn’t seem to be a good reason not to have them, fans use very little power. Maybe in normal times they are not needed.
In the afternoon at 3.45pm we went for a walk on the tracks around the lodge and were told the story of the mother tree. Apparently, the local story was used in the movie Avatar except in the movie humans went to another planet and stuffed it by killing the mother tree. We had a drink from the bar and dinner at 7.45pm and then to bed.
We were woken at dawn by the howler monkeys which are the second loudest animals on the planet. Their howls can be herd up to 5 km. The Blue whales are the loudest because they are so big. The monkeys are a dark reddish colour similar to an orangutan and are the size of macaque monkey. The alfa male does all the calling to tell the other males to stay away from his females.
Up early to beat the heat for our walk, which as the locals say, it does not get worse than this. We walked about 4km to the swamp forest and terra firma forest and saw lots of birds in the different habitats. We found some seed pods that were very large and hard. Our guide later opened one and we tried the pulp inside which was fibrous and sweet but smelled like dirty socks.
On the early morning forest walk we were told about the walking palm which has stilts and can move up to 30cm in 3 years. The stilts enable it to walk, by sending new stilts in the direction it wants to go, and the old stilts on the other side die. It does this to maximise the sunlight, if it cannot find the right sunny spot it dies.
We were also told about a symbiotic relationship between 2 monkey species.
The squirrel monkeys and the Capuchin monkeys which live together. The squirrel monkeys live in large groups of up to a 100 and the Capuchin monkey live in small family groups of up to 10. The Capuchin monkeys are smarter than the squirrel monkeys and they use the squirrel monkeys to check for predators, in other words they use them as bait. The Capuchin monkeys have stronger jaws and are able to open more nuts and fruit than the squirrel monkeys can. There is a benefit to both species, and they are not competing, hence a symbiotic relationship.
At 7 am we went to the overlook which is about 2 km walk from the lodge.
They call it the overlook because it overlooks the rainforest from about a 50m hill. We saw Capybaras, which are big Guinea pigs and are the size of a good size dog, on a small creek. There were so many colourful birds including Macaws, Toucans and Weaver birds. Weaver birds weave a nest hanging from a branch, they have an amazing call, quite different to other birds.
In the afternoon we went on a sunset cruise upriver and landed on the riverbank where I asked the guides what the tracks in the sand I could see were. They were jaguar tracks, quite fresh, probably from the early morning coming down for a drink.
We were told that they have short legs and cannot run fast so they use ambush to catch their prey and they mainly eat Capybaras and Cayman a type of crocodile. They jump onto the Cayman and break its neck, as they have the strongest bite of all the cats.
At dawn we had spider monkeys in the tree near our room and we saw a deer, the size of an alpaca, definitely big cat food, maybe for a puma or a jaguar.
We were in a group of 6 with our guide Luis and 4 of them left early in the morning, so we had Luis to ourselves. We went for an easy walk around the lodge tracks about a km from the lodge where we saw the biggest tree in the forest. It was a great time to ask 50 or more questions about the forest and wildlife, his family and Peruvian life.
We were leaving early in the morning so we thought we would go back to the mother tree in the afternoon and talk. (See the video about the symbiotic relationship of the monkeys on day 23).
We left the lodge at 6am for the river boat trip which took 2 hrs. We went past the clay lick on the way and it was much busier with tourists than the morning we went there. It was good to see the birds one last time.
The port was a bamboo hut with a dirt road. We then caught a bus to Puerto Maldonado which is a big city and services the upper Amazon. Our flight to Cusco was at 1.20pm and we should have been at the hotel at 4pm. Traveling you must go with the flow, there was a storm over Cusco and the flight was diverted to Lima. We sat on the plane for the next 4 hrs waiting for new crew and refuelling and got to Cusco at 8pm. We had to be ready at 7am the next morning for the Manu Road tour over the Andes and then back to a different part of the Amazon.