The Princess Backpacker in Peru - Part 2

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Getting up Early, and The Amazon


I don’t like to get up early. Normally, anything before 7am fills me with a dread that keeps me up half the night worrying. I also usually need breakfast when I get up, followed by a green tea, then a double espresso coffee. Peru was the first holiday I’ve ever had in which we got up before 7am almost every single day. I am still filled with wonder how I even agreed to this trip ideology in the first place.

Why? There was just too damn much to do. At least the breakfasts were really good (amazing cheese, flatbread, ham, porridge, freshly blended fruit juice, special Peruvian coffee syrup you add to hot water), though my green tea was replaced by Coca Tea – which actually tastes a lot like it.
Our first step on Peruvian soil was arriving in Lima very, very late. Once there, prepare for a slightly mad wait to get out of the airport. Do not under any circumstances take any of the very anxious and rude taxi drivers waiting outside. They will bend you over, and take you quite ungently on price. Ouch. Instead, go with one of the services inside the airport that has set fees. At least they provide some lubricant.

We stayed at a pretty crappy little hotel nearby the airport, as we had to get up at an ungodly 5:45am to catch our flight to Puerto Maldonado the next morning. This was our glorious venture point into the Amazon. If you do the jungle splendor in Peru, it has to be done from one of the set lodges, with set packages and set activities. This initially seemed like tour group hell. Unless you are super experienced, and have a team from National Geographic or something, forget about anything else. It’s the jungle for heaven’s sakes.

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It was AWESOME. Let this be a lesson that deserves a spanking – for judging without knowing. We stayed at the Posoadas Amazones lodge, and our tour guide was named Jesus. He was personable, knowing a great deal and being very passionate about the area. He also gave us rowdy, no-one-will-tell-us-what-to-do tour curmudgeons’ lots of leeway.

You have heard of “Glamping”? i.e. Posh camping. Well, this was “Pungle”. i.e. Posh Jungle. Our rooms were quite beautiful and clean, completely open to the elements. You could only have hot water and electricity during a certain time, but hey, there were hot showers. They had a full bar, with a tender who knew his drinks, and great food. You did have to eat on schedule, but we didn’t care. They had plenty of snacks and water for meantimes. We had to get up at ungodly hours every day because of the heat and to see animals, but when you are heading out to gloriousness, you don’t really care. Plus, nature is really loud. No sleepy time for you!

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The highlight for me was definitely the high tower that we climbed up after a hike through the jungle. Once up the zillion steps, Voila! We could see above the canopy of the rainforest. It was sunset, and I had one of those meaningful, happy-to-be-alive moments that made me shed a tear. We have some pictures that rival the ones from Wildlife Photographer of the Year Exhibit. Yep, these will be printed and hung.

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Following that, we had a night hike back through the jungle. Warning: It gets dark fast in the rainforest - like pitch black. We were wearing headlamps, and get this, if you scanned around the path, you could see little sparkles. It was almost like glitter flashing. Focusing your light and looking a bit closer, the source was revealed: Eyes.

Specifically eight per glimmer. You realize that you can now see the bugs and the myriad of spiders that are in this lush playground. You are walking through their living room. I never once had one on me, so don’t worry about being attacked. It was, however, slightly unsettling. If someone truly has a spider/bug phobia, uh, hello, best stay out of the jungle!

P6221636 As we took a river boat the next day, and caught piranhas, you realize you are in the Amazon baby! WOOHOO! Bucket list tick. A glorious adventure/horror/drama movie waiting to happen.

Amazonian Advice:


1. If you are really keen to spend some time here, make sure to go around June/July. This is Peruvian winter, and small cold rushes mean a lot less bugs. I only got two mosquito bites the entire trip, which is less than I got in two days back in New York City.
2. You have to have lots of shots up to date (Typhoid, Hep A and B, etc), including the hellish Yellow Fever. Do this specific shot on a week you don’t have that huge meeting. All of us didn’t feel well for a few days, and I had a painful welt on my arm for 1.5 weeks. You also have to plan on malaria pills. We all took Malarone – and think it contributed to the funny tummy a bit. Have diarrhea pills on hand.
3. The shots and mess were worth it. Seriously, it’s the AMAZON – would do again in a heartbeat.
4. I was told many of the jungle lodges’ programs provide much too much downtime. Do your research and choose one depending on what you are looking for. They are not all created equal.
5. Here’s to ecotourism!!! Some lodges have initiatives where you can bring supplies to donate to surrounding villages. It’s nice to save some space in your bag to give back a little bit. Plus, tax deductible!

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