Adventure & Creepy Crawlies in the Amazon
Visiting the Jungle was on my wishlist for as long as I can remember, so I absolutely jumped at the chance to go and visit a jungle lodge deep in the Amazon. The approach to the jungle lodge is by boat, so before you can blink, you are whisked from the plane to store your luggage (there are strict weight restrictions in place) and you are then shuttled to the port to catch a boat upstream. The Tambopata River, snaking its way through the jungle is all you could hope from a rainforest waterway; brown, murky and mysterious. With a two and a half hour boat ride up to our jungle lodge, there was plenty of time to sit back, relax and watch the scenery. The week before I went there had been a sighting of an elusive jaguar on the banks of the mighty river. We were not quite so lucky, but were still thrilled with what we did manage to see which included a capivari (which looks much like and over-sized guinea pig), caimans, an impressive King Vulture as well as some illegal loggers; the murkier side to jungle life.
Upon arrival at our accommodation, I got off the boat with a certain amount of trepidation. Those who know me know that I am a wildlife lover, but not if it’s crawling all over me. The lodge that we were staying at has one big wow factor that I was both looking forward to and dreading; there were only 3 walls, the 4th was open to the jungle. The spacious rooms all look out into the dense jungle and whilst the room is completely open, much to my relief there were heavy duty mosquito nets which ensure that there are no unwanted visitors in the night.
That said, you can hear everything in the jungle, especially at night, which certainly reminds you that you are in the middle of the wild.The lodge itself is lovely, the room had a hammock facing out to the trees and the communal area was vast, with a mezzanine level which is a perfect hang out for families. For younger children there is also a playground, where kids can let off some steam.
But what people come to the jungle for are the activities and there are some fantastic options to choose between. We started off with a nature walk through the jungle to a clay lick to watch for parrots coming to the local clay lick. While the parrots are the indisputable wow factor, the plants and trees are absolutely fascinating and like nothing I’ve ever seen. Everything I remembered (hazily) learning at school about rainforests came to life and seeing the trees fighting for their space in the canopy was amazing. This came to life even more the next day when we climbed up the canopy tower at dawn to get a breath-taking view of the rainforest. We saw toucans flying and heard the eerie rumble of howler monkeys wafting across the tree-tops, something I will never forget.
Back on the ground, I was in the mood for something more active, so headed off with a local guide (who was clearly related to Rambo) for some river kayaking. I love exploring by kayak, something about the peace of paddling along with just the sounds of the jungle for company and we managed to get up close to some caiman on the river bed. Rambo swam in the river, but I wimped out (something about the anaconda story I had read somewhere that put me off!)
Other activities on offer were more walking and also a boat trip on an oxbow lake, as well as a chance to visit a local community. Families with children are offered a completely separate programme, based around a rainforest treasure hunt. The children in the lodge loved it, as did the parents. The Amazon lived up to my expectations and then some. I absolutely loved being in such a different environment and it was so refreshing to be somewhere that is dominated by the natural world, rather than people. You'll be pleased to hear that thankfully, the only creepy crawlies I saw were in the great outdoors, not in my bed. I can’t wait to go back.