I just returned from my jungle tour at the EcoAmazonia Lodge on the banks of the Madre de Dios River (Mother of God). The Madre de Dios is a tributary to the Amazon and from Peru it flows into Bolivia and then Brazil. It was interesting to be near the headwaters of the Amazon which until now I had only seen at the end in Belem, Brazil. I was added to a tour group made up of all Germans and a couple from Lima. I spent more time practicing Spanish with the Peruvian couple and a couple of German girls living in Arequipa.
The first afternoon we visited Monkey Island across the river from our Lodge. There we saw at least four different types of wild monkeys. The first kind were very small, maybe 10 inches high, with orange heads and mostly black bodies. I took some short video footage of these and the large monkeys with my camera. I´ll try to post those after I get home. We also saw larger black and light brown monkeys. It was fun to watch them catch bananas from our guide and swing or jump from tree to tree. I was suprised to see how much they use their tails for holding on to branches.
The second day we walked a few kilometers through the jungle to Apu Victor Lake. Along the way our guide stopped to explain the unique characteristics of the different trees and plants. Some of the trees had spikes to protect them from predators, others had a symbiotic relationship with fire ants for protection. One of the fruits we saw is traditionally used for ink to make tattoos that last one week. Many of the people in the group got tattoos, but not me. We arrived at the lake to enjoy a quite boat ride to spot birds, butterflies and turtles. We saw Great White Egrets, Horned Screamers, Blue Monarch butterflies and a butterfly sitting on a turtles head! Afterwards, we rested on a lookout platform high above the lake.
We also visited a local family to learn about their native traditional ways of living. At the end of the day I walked around the gardens near the lodge and saw breadfruit and guava trees which reminded me of Jamaica. While the two German girls and I were sitting on the concrete staircase down to the river at sunset yesterday, the local tapir, a big but friendly animal about the size of medium pig with a funny nose walked up behind us in the dark. Thankfully I had heard he was friendly and you could even pet him, so we were not very fearful.
In a few hours I catch a flight to Lima and then a will catch an overnight bus to Huaraz. Huaraz is in the heart of the Cordillera Blanca, White Mountains of the Andes which have the highest peaks in Peru. I plan to spend four days in that area day hiking with groups of other travelers.