Terri Marshall a RoamRight Blog Author

Girls Gone Wild In The Peruvian Amazon

What happens when six New York women abandon the urban concrete jungle for a few days in the Peruvian Amazon? A little bit of sweat, a little adventure and a whole lot of laughs. As you might imagine, getting to the Amazon is a bit of a challenge making the journey itself an adventure. We flew to Lima, connected with another flight in Cusco and ultimately landed in Puerto Maldonado. From there we boarded an open-air bus which I'm quite certain was transporting chickens just moments before we arrived. At the sight of the chicken bus, I heard my friend, Kim, whisper, "This is terrifying." And it was only the beginning.

Getting There

The bus sputtered along the dusty streets of Puerto Maldonado taking us down to the Madre de Dios (Mother of God) River where wooden boats shaded by canvas canopies were waiting to transport us an hour deep into the jungle. Our young Peruvian guides had cleverly attached the rustic boats to the banks of the river by a well-worn wooden plank about eight inches wide that immediately conjured up flashbacks of unsuccessful balance beam encounters from gym class.

The Madre de Dios River is a tributary of the Amazon and flows through the Peruvian jungle. Eco-lodges ranging from rustic to luxurious are scattered along the rivers banks. Our boat skimmed the murky waters past riverside shanties into a world where cell phone reception is non-existent. An astonishing array of wildlife unfolded. Rare white caimans soaked up the sun's warmth on the banks. Butterflies and parrots of every imaginable color flocked to the rivers edge to lick the clay which works as a natural digestive aid.

Herons, storks and macaw claim this corner of the world along with jaguars and anacondas. Our guide pointed out an odd looking bird, the punk chicken, named for its funky hair-style. It is also referred to as the stinky bird due to its tendency to continually pass gas. What a strange and fascinating world!

After an hour boat ride, we docked and climbed the banks of the Madre de Dios to the beautiful eco-lodge, Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica. Designed to effortlessly combine elements of nature with contemporary amenities, the lodge's 35 private thatched roof cabanas provide rustic elegance in the midst of the dense rainforest. Nights are filled with the flickering flames of lanterns and each cabana is equipped with organic toiletries, hammocks and most importantly, a whistle to call for help should you encounter a jungle creature in the night.

The Experience

The main lodge and dining pavilion is a stunning rustic-chic structure built around the beautiful trunk of a strangler fig tree. The resort's chefs prepare exquisite Peruvian cuisine served by candlelight on tables draped with white linen tablecloths.

One of the guides, Wilson, was assigned to accompany our group on our adventures. We followed him everywhere. He led us on a canopy walk through the treetops across six slightly terrifying rope bridges for a birds eye view of the jungle floor below. There was also a hike through the jungle to Lake Sandoval for canoeing, night walks and boat rides to search for nocturnal jungle creatures and my favorite, fishing for piranha.

We headed out by boat early in the morning in search of piranhas. Our goal was to catch enough to eat them for lunch before they ate us. Wilson provided primitive fishing poles and raw meat for bait. You have to be quick to hook a piranha they greedily attack the meat as soon as it hits the water. They aren't very big, but their notorious teeth are razor sharp. Our group's expedition was fraught with bad casting and less than graceful removal of the hooks from the spikey mouths of the fish, yet it yielded 45 piranhas, which was more than enough for lunch.

With a successful fishing expedition behind us, we boated further down river for a swim. Someone probably should have asked if the piranha would be following us, but we really didn't want to know. Refreshed from the swim and relieved that there were no river creature encounters, we docked in a cove beside a make-shift kitchen for lunch in a riverside cabana. Banana leaves served as plates from which we savored a feast of cheese, ham, beef, baked potatoes and guacamole made from avocados from the surrounding rainforest. Wine and beer were on hand to toast the main attraction a platter of surprisingly tasty fried piranhas.

On the final night of our stay in the jungle, a shaman from a nearby village was called in to cleanse our spirits with a flowering bath. That poor man had his work cut out for him. We sat expectantly in a semi-circle, legs crossed while he roamed around us chanting and sprinkling our heads with flowers and water stopping now and then to fortify himself with a puff on his cigarette. I'm not sure the cleansing had any real effect on our spirits, but we sure did smell a lot better doused in flowers.

Have you been to the Peruvian Amazon? What was your favorite adventure?

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About the Author

Terri Marshall

Terri Marshall, a RoamRight Blog Author

Terri Marshall is a New York City based freelance writer whose work includes travel, spirits, and all things chocolate. Terri's work appears in several publications. She has been a featured guest on Peter Greenberg's Worldwide Travel radio program and Denver's KZKO Radio Morning Express show. Terri will not hesitate to go to the source for great chocolate - even if that means hiking through the jungle and picking cacao pods herself.

 

Happiest when she's globetrotting, Terri has covered destinations all over the United States, Europe, and into Central and South America. Favorite adventures include reindeer driving in Norway and fishing for piranhas in the Amazon jungle of Peru. You can keep up with Terri's adventures on her website www.TrippingwithTerri.com. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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