Amazon Jungle & Puerto Maldonado, Peru

Peruvian Amazon Jungle & Puerto Maldonado (4/20-22/2014)

Wayne Pat Dunlap  Peruvian Amazon Jungle peru
Wayne & Pat in Peruvian Amazon Jungle
The Peruvian Amazon Jungle is an amazing eco system. Every traveler should plan to visit to fully appreciate it. You will see exotic plants, animals, and insects that you never knew existed and wake up to the calls of the howler monkeys – a true jungle experience.

Pat Dunlap Boarding Our Madre de Dios River Boat peru amazon
Pat Boarding Our Madre de Dios River Boat
We flew into the small city of Puerto Maldonado. Not a very interesting place, Puerto Maldonado acts as a port for travelers to take boats along the river to their eco lodges. Few places in the world Peruvian Amazon jungle show such a great combination of a vibrant forest, winding rivers, huge swamps, and diverse plant and animals.

Our Boat Ride Peruvian Amazon peru
Our Boat Ride - Peruvian Amazon
After our hour-long boat ride up the Madre de Dios River, we arrived at the Eco Amazonia Lodge (see photos). Abundant life was everywhere. Right outside of our cabin were beautiful screaming macaw birds and while brushing her teeth, Pat saw a small pig-like creature run behind our cabin into the forest. Well, we are in their territory. In the Peruvian Amazon jungle, you know you are on the edges of civilization when the smells are a combination of perfumed flowers and damp mossy foliage.

Small Boat Up Contributory River peru amazon
Small Boat Up Contributory River
A highlight of our trip to this part of the Peruvian Amazon jungle was our small canoe-like boat ride up a contributory river (see photo). We saw green frogs with red eyes and an amazing amount of palm trees that we did not expect to see in such a wet environment.

Contributory River boat ride Peruvian Amazon peru
Contributory River - Peruvian Amazon
Another fun adventure included a boat ride over to a privately owned island they call Monkey Island. Several types of monkeys live here supported by our eco lodge. The monkeys are quite accustomed to having human visitors and come right up to our group for the bananas that the guides offer. It was fun to be so close to ‘wild’ monkeys.

Caiman in Small Peruvian Amazon Lake peru
Caiman in Small Peruvian Amazon Lake
On our visit to the Peruvian Amazon Jungle, we had nice weather for most our three days with hikes far into the jungle. One hike took us to an observation deck high above a small lake were we saw some small caimans (alligator) and many interesting birds. We were looking for the giant anaconda snakes that live in this lake but the guides told us that it was not warm enough for them to come out of the lake.

Wayne dunlap Peruvian Amazon peru
Wayne in Peruvian Amazon
This is amazing... Guess what animal is the top of the food chain here... giant otters because of their size, growing to almost 6 feet, and the fact they travel in packs. They are so big that they eat most the fish in a lake and have to travel lake to lake. They ‘play’ with the other animals and even kill the large anacondas. The Peruvian Amazon jungle is such an interesting place when an otter is the animal to look out for. It would have been fun to see them.

Peruvian Amazon Jungle peru
Peruvian Amazon Jungle
We fully appreciate the amount of water generated in the Peruvian Amazon jungle and we got the full treatment. One afternoon during in a canoe ride on the river, the sky opened up on us. Due to the humidity, our clothes did not dry for the remainder of the 3 days we were there. When the rain falls (and this is a rain forest), the jungle takes on an interesting adventure to explore. Our lodge provided us knee-high boots so we could plunge through any puddles on the trails and we were so glad we had the boots.

Brazilian Nuts Puerto Maldonado Peru
Brazilian Nuts - Puerto Maldonado, Peru
The Peruvian Amazon jungle has so many varieties of plants. Our guide showed us example after example of plants and bark from trees that the native people use as natural solutions to many human problems and diseases. One was a natural mosquito repellant. We could definitely learn more from these treatments.

Penis Tree in Peruvian Amazon Jungle peru
"Penis" Tree in Peruvian Amazon Jungle
Our guide warned us about not touching the trees around us on our walking trail. You may pick up a hitchhiker like fire ants. Fire ants are not very big as I expected but they pack a powerful bite that causes a lot of pain for hours. Get a bunch of bites and you are in trouble of an extremely painful experience, even death – not a thing to mess around with.

Interestingly, the fire ants live in a symbiotic relationship with a small tree. They live inside eating a little of the tree and provide protection for the tree. In return, the fire ants protect the tree making sure nothing grows within a few feet of the tree.

Our Bungalow at Eco Amazonia Lodge amazon jungle peru
Our Bungalow at Eco Amazonia Lodge
Dining Room at Eco Amazonia Lodge  peru amazon
Dining Room at Eco Amazonia Lodge
The native people of the Peruvian Amazon jungle call this tree the “justice tree.” When a member of the village preforms a bad act, like adultery, they tie them to the tree for a specific amount of time and shake the tree. Fire ants pore out of the tree and bike the intruder. Lesser offenses have a half hour of agony. Major offenses get an overnight of extremely painful death. Our guide mentioned that they should bring some corrupt politicians down from Lima (their capital city). We were all thinking that this might clean up politics in our home countries.

Peruvian Amazon Jungle peru
Peruvian Amazon Jungle
Some sad things have occurred and continue to happen here. Years ago companies came to the Peruvian Amazon jungle for rubber. The rubber trees were tapped and they literary drained the life out of the trees. Once they got all the valuable sap out the tree died. Rubber trees are now hard to find.

Mining for Gold Along Upper Amazon River in Peru
Mining for Gold Along 
Upper Amazon River in Peru
Puerto Maldonado Peru
Puerto Maldonado, Peru
More recently, gold miners have stripped large areas of the Peruvian Amazon jungle forest. Not what you may expect, just a few feet below the land’s surface is a rock bed that contains gold. The miners strip the surface to extract the gold creating land that the jungle forest has a very difficult time to grow. This is creating an interesting political dispute. Many people want to stop this practice to preserve the forest while on the other hand gold mining creates a rather large portion of their economy. When proposals are made to stop this destructive practice, the miners demonstrate and close the roads to tourism, another huge part of their economy.

Map of Peru
Map of Peru
Some background... The Peruvian Amazon jungle borders with Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil and Bolivia. This region comprises 60% of Peru. Peru has the second largest area of the Amazon rain forest after the Brazilian Amazon. Many indigenous tribes still live throughout the Peruvian Amazon, surviving mainly by hunting and fishing.

Be amazed and plan a trip to the Peruvian Amazon jungle!

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