Emily and Stuart have tossed aside (momentarily) their corporate lives and instead are trying their hand at documentary making for Intrepid in the depths of South America. Here’s an update on their adventures thus far on Sacred Land of the Incas…
“The Amazon jungle immediately struck me as an incredibly peaceful place, where everything is bursting with potential. The earth feels as though it is heaving with life, both visible and invisible to the eye. As I write I am sitting in our jungle lodge room which has no wall to the outside and looks onto a mass of lush and tangled greenery. It is simply furnished with mosquito nets over the beds and a hammock that hangs lazily in the dappled sunlight. It feels like a lifetime away from the noise and bustle of Lima, which we left just a day and a half ago.
We flew into Puerto Maldonado and took a short bus ride to the river port, where a canoe transported our group upstream. Like us, the Tambopata river began its journey high up in the Andes. By the time the river reaches near sea level, it is wide and meandering and swings the boat gently from side to side. The rainy season renders it high and muddy, but today the sun is shining as we snack on fried rice wrapped in banana leaves.
The peace you feel in the jungle is quite different to that in the mountains, which overawe you with their spectacular beauty and size. It is easy to see why the Incas worshipped the sun when you are above the clouds. The sky is big and open and you feel as though you can reach out and touch it. Mountain air is dry, thin and clean; here in the jungle it is thick and moist and hangs on your skin like the mosquitoes. There is a whole other kind of worship in the jungle, the earth. It is rich and dark and supports 50% of all plant species found on this planet. Our lodge sits in the heart of the Madre De Dios (mother of God) area in the Amazon basin. It has no electricity or outside walls and is constructed entirely of wood, palm leaves and bamboo.
We were woken early this morning to the light of the kerosene lamps and the smell of pancakes, long before the sun began its ascent. Our group was taken further upstream and through the forest to where a catamaran built from two canoes waited for our arrival. It was powered by a single paddle and slid silently across a glassy ox-bow lake.
Our guides were local to the area and expert at tracking and spotting wildlife. We had high hopes of seeing some Amazon birdlife and the possibility of spotting endangered Giant River Otters, which we were told were up to 2 meters long and had been hunted to the brink of extinction. It was rare to see them and maybe one in ten tourists has ever had the chance to lay eyes on them. Our travel-karma must be great because a family of five soon bobbed their heads above the water, not far from where we were. They played and teased for a while before silently slipping away to feast on the piranhas that swam beneath the muddy surface of the lake. Wildlife sightings came thick and fast after that. A pair of macaws, a toucan, some tiny bats and four different species of monkey including a red howler monkey and a group of squirrel monkeys, which were my stead-fast favourite at the zoo as a child.
This is life in the Amazon jungle, as real as the mud squelching under your boots as you walk in search of adventure. It is humid and hot and incredibly rewarding for those of you who want to observe one of the wildest and richest natural habitats on earth. We thank Intrepid Travel for finding this place and bringing us here.”
* photo by Leonie Nanotti – Intrepid Photography Competition