Hola! So, where to begin? Well, on day 205 I had a very special person arrive at lima airport to travel with me for 2 weeks! My mum – also known as E – flew all around the world to spend two weeks with me! So after an emotional reunion, we spent one day in Lima so that she could rest (although we still went exploring) before flying to the city of Iquitos in Peru.
hanging out in Lima together!
Iquitos is the biggest city in the world that can only be accessed by boat or plane. There are no roads leading here, so the options are to fly or to take a 40 hour boat… Since we have time constraints, we took the plane (to be honest, I probably would have taken the plane anyway… That’s a long time to be on a boat!). Being in the Amazon area, the weather averages between 28 – 33 degrees each day at the moment, plus humidity – a big change from the relative cold of lima.
We had a yummy lunch overlooking the water before going back to our hotel to pack – the next day we were going on a 5 night / 6 day tour into the jungle!
on the boat, on our way!
We chose Muyuna Lodge as the place to stay. It’s 140 kilometres downstream from Iquitos and looked like the best place. They believe in respecting the environment and the animals, so all the animals we saw were in their natural habitat and are never harmed. They also help out the community by employing villagers from the village down the road, and never exploit them. So we departed the mainland by speedboat at around 10am, driving in boats for about 3 hours before we arrived at the lodge. After receiving our room key, we tucked into the buffet lunch (such good food provided the whole stay!) and rested in our bungalow for an hour. I jumped straight into one of the hammocks on our balcony and read my book for a bit – so relaxing. All you can hear is natural jungle sounds – birds chirping, trees swaying and the river.
relaxing on the balcony with river views
Our first activity started at 3pm, we were told to wear long pants and shirts and to bring our ponchos as we were heading out to find some animals on a walk. The walks were amazing, but gee whiz it was like walking around in a sauna fully clothed! On this particular walk we were shown big termite nests (located up in the trees because in the wet season the water level rises), bull frogs, a bush rat and many types of trees and flora. It rained while we were walking but due to the tree coverage, we didn’t get too wet. Back to the lodge at around 5.30, we relaxed again until the dinner buffet at 7pm.
After dinner, it was down the walkway to the boats to go for a night ride to look for caiman! Caiman are crocodiles of the Amazon and we were lucky enough that our skilled guide, Luis was able to catch a baby one for us to see! We all got to touch its scaly skin, and I was “lucky” enough to have it pee on me while it was being held ha ha… Our new caiman amigo went back into the water, and we headed back towards the lodge for a well earned rest. Sleeping in the bungalow was amazing – it was so peaceful with only the sounds of bugs, and a slight breeze cooled as down while we slept. At around 4am I was woken by a HUGE thunderstorm! It honestly sounded like the sky was splitting open above me. I was lulled back to sleep by the sound of the pouring rain… Such a lovely sound to hear at night.
The next day, after breakfast at 7.30am, we were back in the boats and headed out to the biggest part of the Amazon river. On the way, we stopped by and saw some huge lily pads (which caiman sometimes like to sleep on in the sun) in a small lake. We also saw some cleverly disguised bats! Soon we were zooming along the river in search of pink Dolphins! Sometimes people don’t get to see them since they don’t like to get close to the boats but we were fortunate enough to get a glimpse of about 4 swimming together. We only saw them for about 3 seconds at a time as they come up for air, so no photos unfortunately. The pink Dolphins, aside from the colour, are different from regular Dolphins because they can move their head from side to side, as well as up and down (shake and nod, grey Dolphins can only nod) because they don’t have bones in their neck. To add to the enjoyment, we all got to jump in the water and technically swim with the Dolphins, as they were about 20 metres away which was amazing – not only was it awesome to swim in the Amazon river, but to swim near pink Dolphins too!
can you see the bats??
swimming in the Amazon river – travel bucket list item checked!
After lunch back at the lodge, we headed out for our afternoon activity of piranha fishing! There was 9 of us that headed out to a nearby lake, and soon the competition began. Our group consisted of 3 chinese, 2 Australians, 2 British and 2 Americans – it was declared the piranha Olympics! After about 5 minutes, it was obvious who would take out the gold – the Chinese had a flying start, catching 2 fish each before any of us had caught 1 (none of them had been fishing before – naturals!). They really do always win the Olympics 😉 haha. I did my part for Australia (and showed that I’m my fathers daughter) catching 4, and E catching 1 big one (the biggest of the day I think!), earning us the silver medal. UK and USA tied for bronze, with one fish each. It was an awesome afternoon with many laughs being had, as well as the enjoyment that came from catching the fish.
just call me Rex hunt!
“I’m a piranha, they’re in the Amazon” – finding nemo 😉
After dinner, we donned our long clothes once again and headed out after dark on a walk to look for tarantulas. We ended up spotting one for about 5 seconds before it crawled back into its tree hole away from us – very cool 🙂 and needless to say, the cold shower once we were back at our bungalow was very much appreciated.
Up early the next morning, we jumped into a smaller boat and canoed along the water at 7am to try spot some birds. We were lucky and saw some toucans in a distant tree – a bird I had been hoping to see, hooray! Unfortunately the sky was quite grey at that time, so the photo doesn’t show how colourful they are but you can see its long beak.
After breakfast, it was more bird watching for us as we hiked into the jungle to see some prehistoric birds that like to live near a swamp. They looked like giant turkeys, very strange to see them perched up on top of trees. Our afternoon activities consisted of visiting the village down the road, where we can talk to the locals and buy some of the handmade wares they sell. We both received a shock when one of the young girls carried out a sloth in her arms – we laughed because we thought it was a stuffed one, but then we saw it blink and it started moving and we couldn’t believe it! We had seen a sloth up in a tree at one point, but to see it up close was amazing! It had been trying to cross the river that morning, so the villagers rescued it because it can get bitten by piranhas and other aquatic animals (anacondas…). There was many cute kids who ran along with us here and we got to see their way of life – the houses are so basic, it was humbling to see how they live. Back into the boat and we headed towards a nearby lake to watch the sun set, which was lovely.
poor, wet sloth! But so cute!
After dinner, back into the boat again for a night canoe. Our group got to see a few, tiny green frogs that live in the aquatic plants (one which ‘jumped’ aka was thrown by Luis onto the back of E’s life jacket.. Splat!) and we also saw a small water snack which the other guide Raffael picked up. It was very thin, and whiplike but not too dangerous. While we were out, we could see the lightening strike in the distance which was amazing – words and pictures can’t explain it, but it’s just so dark out there that seeing the sky lit up by constant lightening was really breath taking to see.
Day four started with a hike after breakfast, where we were treated to the cutest sight – 3 noisy night monkeys poked their heads out of their home to see what we were up to! They have the biggest eyes and one even put his tiny paw out – adorable! Wanted to put one in my pocket to take home! When we got back in the boat, we also got to see some common squirrel monkeys jumping from tree to tree in search of their lunch! There was about 5 jumping around, and E was great and managed to get some photos of them hanging about. We also saw some blue and yellow macaws (the birds from the movie Rio if you’ve seen it, except mixed colour, not blue) sitting in a tree together. Another exciting moment for me, as I wanted to see them too.
big eyed monkeys!
macaws hanging out
common squirrel monkey finding some lunch
After lunch, we went for a lovely kayak down the river and made it back to the lodge just in time, as a thunderstorm rolled in. I watched the rain and lightening from my hammock in the cooling air. No activities after dinner that night, as we had done them all so we read our books and listened to the sounds of the jungle.
Day five – our last full day at muyuna! We headed deep into the jungle where we had breakfast, a once in a lifetime experience. We walked on for another 2 hours, splashing through mud and crossing make shift bridges over water. Towards the end, the heat was stifling! It was probably the hottest day we had yet.
breakfasting in the deep jungle with my new chinese friends 🙂
We enjoyed a nice cold shower before making our way into the jungle for the night – an option included in our package was to go camping on our last night, which we eagerly agreed to. And oh, what an eventful evening! First, our two guides had to get us to the camping space which wasn’t made easy as the river was covered in aquatic plants. Literally, covered – Luis was using his machete to try cut a path. Once we were there, we walked up to our campsite and Luis pointed out a camping buddy – a tarantula was living in a tree about 10 metres away from us. 5 minutes in and we’ve already seen a huge jungle critter. Because of the amount of wild animals in the area, our tents are erected on a wooden platform that’s been created, much to our relief. Don’t get us wrong – we’re two pretty tough gals that have been camping in Australia lots! But after seeing that tarantula, we were thankful to be above the ground hehe.
hacking our way through the river
our sleeping area for the night
Luis and our other guide, Jacne, got to cooking dinner. That’s when Luis discovered camping buddy number 2: another tarantula in the cooking area! Luckily, tarantulas are actually quite nice spiders, and will only bite if you attack it. Luis was touching it and moving it around and came to no harm. They just look scary, as they’re quite big and so hairy… That’s when I discovered that there was actually 2 tarantulas sharing that house. A male came to join the party, and Luis said that you don’t normally see them together so that was quite exciting. The male is much smaller and has a shorter life span than the female, as the female always stays in one spot while the male moves around (and therefore gets eaten). Females can live up to 40 years, whereas males it’s generally around 2 years. Then Luis discovered a snake was also hiding in the roof of the cooking area, but we let it be and they continued cooking.
hello mate! Think you need to shave
While we waited for our dinner, E and I sat chatting on the nearby picnic table. It was at this point that I was looking around with my head torch (as there were bats flying overhead) and saw something underneath the platform that was well disguised, but also looked out of place… I asked Luis, when he had a moment, to come have a look to see if I was staring at a weird leaf, or if it was what I suspected – a snake. Luis walked over and gave an almighty cry when he saw it – ‘DIOS MIO! Yes it’s a very poisonous snake, we must kill it now!!!!’ as he grabbed a stick and Jacne came running over. Like I said, it was well disguised – it was curled up and had its head up in the strike position, but was sitting very still and was staring at me. Luckily I saw it, because anyone could have easily walked over to step up onto the platform and could have been bitten. Normally, muyuna lodge is very much against the killing of animals, but because it is a deadly snake they have to kill it so that we’re all safe. Once it was no longer moving, we came a little closer to get a look at the small killer. After that point, we all had our gumboots on and were continuously checking the ground where we walked in case another one came to say hello!
sorry snake, but you would have done exactly the same to us…
We had a lovely dinner of chicken noodle soup, cooked over a campfire. Then it was into our tents to get away from the Mosquitos who wanted their dinner (after we nervously went for a bush pee, asking Luis to double check for snakes haha) and we fell asleep to the sounds of howler monkeys in the distance. We woke up around 6.45am and packed up our tents and headed back to the lodge for breakfast. Then, we had a few hours to relax and pack as we headed back to iquitos after lunch, at around 1.30pm. We were sad to drive away from the lodge – it was amazing experience being so far out in the jungle and seeing so many creatures! There’s nothing like shutting off the electronics and being surrounded by nature for a few days. We would also highly recommended Muyuna lodge – it was such an authentic experience and they really care for the animals and people of the jungle.
bye bye muyuna!
Hope you enjoyed the many photos of our jungle adventure and stay tuned for more exciting events in the coming days 🙂