Cusco to Puerto Maldonado (March 30, 2008)

Today we flew to Puerto Maldonado which is a city in the Amazon jungle. We grabbed a cab for the airport and then hung out there till our flight. The guys had a beer since it was the afternoon somewhere else in the world… (even though it was 10:30 am there) The flight was pretty cool as we were flying over the amazonian rain forest. We could see the river meandering.

From Cusco, we had reserved a three nights/four day package at a jungle lodge called Estancia Bello Horizonte (www.estanciabellohorizonte.com). We had a guide assigned to us for the full four days. Our guide Freddy, his assistant and the driver came to pick us up at the airport in a pick up truck. We were wondering where everyone was going to sit until the two guides jumped in the back of the truck. We made our way through town to their “office” and checked in with Tatiana. The lodge is run by a priest from Switzerland who has been in Peru for a long time.  He runs a shelter for children and single mothers. They now have three businesses to support the shelter and which also give jobs to the young adults: the lodge, an ice cream parlor and a library. After we checked in, we went for ice cream. It was very good and neat to see all the different flavors made from local fruits.

To get to the lodge we had to cross the river Madre de Dios, drive for an hour on a dirt road and then drive 5 km through the jungle. Each step was an adventure. First we took the “ferry” across the Madre de Dios. Road. It is hard to describe – it is best to look at the pictures for that one… The boat was essentially a small wooden platform. We all got off the pick up truck, they put two planks on the side of the river and the truck backed up onto the two planks and right onto the boat.  It was pretty impressive. Once we crossed the river, we started the hour drive out towards the lodge.  On this leg, we were thinking that the road was really lousy.  This was of course until we pulled off the road to head towards the lodge which was 5 km off the main road into the jungle.  Now that road was lousy.  Because it was the end of the raining season, there were huge craters on the road.  Inside the truck, we were bouncing all over the place. It took a good half hour for 5 km! On the plus side, it was lush and beautiful and we saw a whole bunch of the beautiful big blue butterflies called Morpho. We eventually got to the lodge which was very pretty. There were bungalows that overlooked the jungle below.  Each bungalow had a bedroom and a bathroom.The view was great as you are on top of a hill and you can see pretty far. There was a dinning room hut as well as a bar area. When we got there, we found out that would be the only guests for our 4 days there.  It was just us and the staff.  Sweet, our on jungle lodge all to ourselves.  Once we relaxed a bit on the hammocks,  we went for lunch which was very nice.  They served us some chicken along with some fresh fruit juice from jungle fruits.

After lunch we decided to go to the pool which was a ten minute walk through the jungle.  Freddy our guide brought us there.  The pool is great.  Because we are in the middle of the jungle, the pool didn’t have any electricity.  It was a fresh water pool supplied from a natural source.  The sun kept the water temperature nice and comfortable.  As it was hot, we really enjoyed the swim.  There was even a little slide to slide down on into the pool.

After the swim, we headed back to the huts.  By this time, it was getting close to sunset.  As we mentioned in another post, the sun sets every night around 6:00 pm.  The guys had a beer and the girls had a Pisco Sour and we all sat on the patio in front of Kevin and Melissa’s bungalow to stare out into the jungle.  It was really something to see.  While the sun was up, you could hear all kinds of birds in the jungle.  The second the sun set, all the birds went quiet and the crickets all came to life.  It was like someone turned a switch.

After relaxing for a good hour and a half, we went to the dinning hut for supper.  Once again, it was great.  After eating, we went back to our bungalows and chatted for a while.  It was once again not a late night as we were getting up at 4:15 am the next morning to head out into the jungle.  Early to bed, early to rise…

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