We glided down the Madre de Dios River and pulled up alongside a set of steps, and inviting Welcome sign, and a shelter of colorful hammocks. It looked like any other inviting campground, but this was a little more unique: it was our home during our visit to the Amazon Rainforest in Peru.
The inside of the lodge was immediately inviting. Polished wood and high ceilings let us know that this was a place accustomed to hosting visitors. We knew we wouldn’t have to worry about a thing.
Except maybe tarantulas.
I spotted this one crawling above us in the rafters as we relaxed in the hammock shelter.
It didn’t faze me as much as you might think it would. We’d already hiked into the Amazon rainforest by this time and I’d seen several tarantulas on the path. Thankfully, I didn’t see any snakes. I can handle spiders; I faint when I see snakes.
I concentrated instead on the plants and insects that our guide pointed out. The huge termite nests hanging from the trees. The army of ants marching along tree trunks with pieces of leaves carried on their backs. The medicinal qualities of some of the plants, like the purple ones growing from the tree here. The indigenous people use it to treat kidney problems. They use another tree’s bark to make a hallucenogenic. And they use tree garlic on their bodies to hide their scent when they hunt. It reinforced the idea that I’ve always heard that most of the world’s remedies can be found in the Amazon rainforest.
We took three hikes through the rainforest during our two days at the lodge. One included a visit to Monkey Island, where we fed bananas to monkeys who were much more interested in our bottles of mineral water. In fact, when they ran down the trees to snatch a banana from our hands, they took the bottles of water first. Imagine their dismay when they couldn’t open them.
We kindly opened one for a thirsty little monkey who sadly carried it back up the tree with his tail wrapped around the upside-down water bottle dripping down onto us. Poor little monkey!
As fun as visiting the monkeys was, we were all eager to get back to the lodge. The mosquitoes had eaten us alive. They didn’t care what kind of insect repellent we used; they were impervious to it all.
Plus, we had lunches and dinners waiting back at the lodge. Our first meal was served in a leaf. Rice, chicken, and carrots. It was delicious!
But my favorite part was our sleeping cabin. It reminded me of the campground at Disney World. The cabins were rustic and clean and seemed luxurious amidst the isolation of the rainforest. Mosquito netting protected all the windows and we were advised that we could only use electricity from 5:30-7:00am and 5:00-10:00pm since the electricity was run off a generator. Some people may have wondered what they’d do after “lights out,” but I don’t think any of us could stay awake much longer than that anyone. The heat, humidity, and exertion from our rainforest hikes had depleted our energy. Going to bed at 10:00pm was a pleasure.
Spending two days in the Amazon rainforest was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for me. I loved the atmosphere and the incredible beauty of the place, but I don’t know that I’ll ever return. I managed to make it through my Amazon experience without seeing a snake. I’m not sure that could happen twice.
Is there anything that would keep you from exploring the rainforest?
I’m a total wimp when it comes to insects, which I’ve always thought was unfortunate because I think visiting a rainforest like the Amazon would be such an amazing experience. I have the opposite problem of you in that snakes I can handle (possibly because I’m born in the year of the snake?), but spiders? Forget it. Even typing that word makes me uncomfortable. For now, I’m probably going to have to live vicariously through other travelers and nature documentaries.
I used to be afraid of spiders, but after watching the movie “Arachnaphobia,” I got desensitized to them. Which has been liberating. But I can’t bear to watch movies with snakes. I physically start to black out. I can’t even help it.
What a good experience, and very well related Juliann. I’m almost envious of those people that call the forest their home, and are totally self-sufficient in doing so.
Learning about the different plants and remedies was fascinating. They could easily devote an entire tour to just that. If I hadn’t been swatting at mosquitos constantly, I might have tried to take some notes while we were learning about them.
I really like your post, Juliann! It takes me back. The Amazon is a unique, wonderful destination. Peggy and I took a boat trip out of Manaus up the Amazon and then went to Ariau Lodge, which is up in the trees.It was one of my all-time favorite trips. Thanks. –Curt
Up in the trees! That sounds fantastic! I would, of course, still worry about snakes, but I can only imagine what a view from there would be like. Sounds incredible!
They have a mile long walkway up in the rainforest, Juliann. We were accompanied by a monkey that insisted on sleeping in Peggy’s lap when we sat down, 🙂 –Curt