Madre de Dios River

An Introduction to the Amazon Rainforest

Julie Peru Leave a Comment

Tim and I ended our trip to Peru in the Amazon rainforest. This would end up being quite the experience and would take us out of our comfort zone. I was now wearing a giant, hot, plaster cast on my left hand that was already beginning to disintegrate (I broke my hand mountain biking a few days earlier). Tim and I were heading into the jungle, and we didn’t know what to expect, other than it was going to be very hot, very humid, and very far from home.

Yellow Fever

Getting to the Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica

It was only a 35 minute flight from Cusco to Puerto Maldonado. The two towns are not far apart but because of the poor quality of the roads it would take several days to drive from one to the other. Puerto Maldonado is a very small town in the Amazon rainforest. The air traffic control tower was a very small wooden building on stilts. Four flights a day fly into and out of Puerto Maldonado.

Tim and I stepped off of the airplane onto the tarmac and we could instantly feel the hot, muggy air. The Inkaterra staff were waiting for us. We took a short ride in an open truck, checked in at the Butterfly House, and then were driven to our boat on the Madre de Dios River.

It was a 45 minute ride by boat downstream to our hotel, the Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica.  It was a beautiful ride on the river. We were in the Amazon rainforest!

Boats in the Amazon

The Inkaterra was incredible. Our cabana, which was really just a very nice screened in porch, had hammocks and huge bed with mosquito netting, and a view of the Madre de Dios River. Power on the entire property was turned off between 3 and 6 pm and again during the night in order to conserve electricity. We had no cell phone connection, no TV, and no radio, so this was a very different experience for us.

Our Cabana at the Inkaterra

Madre de Dios River Amazon

First Excursion into the Rainforest

Our first excursion was with our guide, Wilson. So, wearing our permethrin treated clothes, sunblock, and insect repellent, we went hiking into the rainforest. Wilson showed and taught us about termites, vines, trees, birds, and pygmy marmosets. It was a one hour introduction to the rainforest and an eye opener as to how hot and muggy the next two days would be.

Parakeet

We ate dinner in the lodge. Meals became my favorite part of staying at Inkaterra. The food was always phenomenal and our waiter, Roberto, was awesome. He recognized that I was learning Spanish and he made it a point to teach me a little more Spanish at every meal. He joked, “if you don’t order in Spanish, you cannot eat.” He even had Tim speaking Spanish. We had so much fun!

Twilight River Excursion

Tim and I took a second excursion after dinner. We went on the Twilight River Excursion with other hotel guests. We all got into a boat and drove along the shore of the river with flashlights looking for caiman. It was wild being out on the river at night! There were no other lights for miles. We were an hour from the closest town (and a small one, at that). We were truly in the middle of nowhere.

Now it was off to bed. Tim and I took showers (we were both covered in bug spray and still very hot) and climbed into bed with our flashlights. We tucked our mosquito netting in around the bed and laid down for a good nights sleep. It would have been more romantic if we hadn’t been so freaked out about turning off the flashlights. And when we did, wow it was dark! We are talking pitch dark, can’t see your hand in front of your face. Hopefully we won’t feel any creepie crawlies run over our legs tonight!

Hiking into the Amazon Rainforest

Tim and I spent our second day hiking in the Amazon rainforest. Our day started with a 5 am wake up call and then a twenty minute boat ride upriver on the Madre de Dios River to the Tambopata Reserve on Lake Sandoval. We were told that the excursion would involve a one hour hike through the rainforest and a one hour canoe trip around the lake, and then a return trip back to the lodge.

Tim in Amazon

Our one hour hike turned into a two and half hour slog along an extremely muddy trail through the rainforest. Occasionally, Wilson would make a detour off of the path and we would be hiking through trees and bush to spot a macaw or howler monkey. It was fun at first but I was always wondering if we would accidentally walk through the web of some crazy looking spider or have a close encounter with a poisonous snake.

Julie Rivenbark

Those two scenarios never happened but Tim was stung by a crazy looking bug. A very small bug with tiny legs stung Tim through his shirt on his right flank. Tim said it felt like five bees were stinging him at once and then for awhile afterwards he kept feeling electric shocks in the same area. After that sting I know Tim did not love the idea of hiking off of the trail for the rest of the morning.

While hiking to the lake we did get to see a howler monkey, capuchin monkeys, spider monkeys, a tarantula, leaf cutter ants, various birds, and many insects. The monkeys were awesome. They kept jumping from tree to tree above our heads and whistling to one another. Seeing the monkeys would be the highlight of the excursion.

Monkey

Tarantula in Amazon Rainforest

It felt like a never-ending walk to Lake Sandoval but eventually we made it. Wilson paddled us around the lake for about an hour looking for more wildlife. It was nice being out on the lake and there was a breeze which was refreshing. 

Lake Sandoval

The hike back out to the river went much quicker. We did not take any more detours into the forest to spot more wildlife. We were all done at this point, even Wilson. By now it was 11:30 and we had been walking in the heat for five and a half hours with one bottle of water each. Eventually we finished slogging through the mud in our Wellington boots, took the twenty minute boat ride back to Inkaterra, and then took one of the best showers in our whole life.

Into the Tree Tops

After a wonderful lunch and a little chill time in our cabana we were back out with Wilson on another excursion. We spent part of the afternoon walking along the tree top canopy bridges. This was really cool because now we were walking up in the treetops and could look out over the rainforest. Even though Tim and I did not see any wildlife this was still our favorite excursion in the Amazon.

Tree Top Canopy Bridge Amazon

The Rainforest at Night

At 6:00 the sun sets and at 6:30 we met up with Wilson for the third time of the day. Now Tim and I were going to walk through the rainforest at night. With flashlights in hand we walked around the property of the Inkaterra spotting mostly insects. Wilson did show us a couple of tarantulas, one was in the palm tree right next to our cabana. But we never saw any snakes. It would have been the coolest thing ever to see an anaconda!

In Conclusion

Tomorrow we fly back home to the US (it would take us 36 hours…one boat ride and five flights to get from the Inkaterra in the Amazon to our house in Maryland).

Looking back on our three days in the Amazon, it was something Tim and I are both very glad we did. However, at the time, we were always hot, always slathering on the bug spray, and missing our kids. I am very glad to have had this experience, but there are many other places I want to go in the world before returning to the Amazon.


Are you planning a trip to Peru? Read all of our articles about Peru in our Peru Travel Guide.

You Might Also Like:

Amazon Rainforest

Note: This post contains affiliate links. When you make a purchase using one of these affiliate links, we get paid a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *