I had a great time exploring the Amazon from Iquitos. Amit ,Eyal and yours truly organized from Iquitos an Independent Jungle Guide called Gerson to take us up the Rio Napo like the locals do it in a Peka Peka over 8 days.
What an adventure spending all day going up the river heading to Equador.
Sleeping on the beaches along the river exploring the jungle at night.
Calling in at small homes along the way.Meeting locals and exchanging rice and petrol for deer meat and fruit.One village we called into claim we where the first white people to visit.The kids actually run away from us when they first saw us to the amusement of Gerson our guide.When we showed the the pictures of them taken on our digital cameras they wanted to know how we shrunk them and put them inside the little box.
We feasted on exotic jungle fruits many I had never seen before.
The fishing nets would come out before dusk to catch some fish for dinner.
The slow pace on the river and being so removed from the gringo trail is something I will never
forget.The thunderstorms that built up in the afternoons and the rain that followed.
Gerson our guide has a great knowledge of the jungle`s flora and fauna.His English language was just as good.Never once where we concerned about our safety as we where in good hands.
We had our own tents and I ended up just sleeping with a sarong over me.
So this was a customized trip to our requirements.We planned to make it to Ecuador but going upriver it ended up going to take a lot longer than expected thus like the way travel often goes.
Just go with the flow!!!!!
While I was at a jungle camp called Amazon Wilderness Expeditions (AWE) (sign up across the street from the Yellow Rose of Texas) I met Octavio and Mi who were my guides for four days. I talked with Octavio about wanting to meet "authentic" Amazon people and he asked if I wanted to put together a small expedition to visit his ancestral family down the Amazon off a small tributary at a lakeside village. I said, "Absolutely!" and we arranged a trip in a dugout canoe with his cousin. It was the highlight of my Amazon experience!
Mi is a yong man working his way through school as a guide in Iquitos and trying to save money to help his siblings also improve their education. He said he would like to take me to see his family when I return to Iquitos someday. I have his email address and I plan to take my grandson with me next time I go to the Amazon.
Ask at AWE about Octavio and Mi if you want learn about the "real" Amazon.
Once we arrived at our Amazon lodge, we had litterally the whole surrounding jugle to ourselves and a guide to do whatever we liked.
This is another advantage to this lodge. We had our own machettes hacking away a trail in the forest, canoeing in local hand dug canoes,... its limitless.
When I went to Belen, I was not expecting to see a lot of things that I saw. Its a hard thing to see... Just walking along the path, to visit and say hello to others. Who are not as welcoming as the people in the city of Iquitos.
We got to see a baby ant eater along the way. The people I were staying with, bent to pet it, but I didn't want to take any chances.
It was hard to walk around that day, cause it was raining the entire time in Belen.
Once we got to the bottom of the rocky stair way, the river was flooded still. We crossed over a little ditch, but I slipped and fell and cut my leg on some glass. But I stood up, even though everyone was laughing, and said " I'm ok" lol
Its amazing how something like that can change your way of thinking about others, and about different countries. It really makes us notice how great our country is, and how blessed we are.
I now have a whole new outlook on life here in America, and have more respect for the little things such as BATHROOMS that actually work. lol
And Lights that don't go out whenever they feel like it. Pure water to drink, not having to buy bottled water all the time. AC!!! lol
Belen was a great wake up call.
Made me think a lot on how lucky we are to be living in this country.
But what amazed me the most is how content they are with how their life is! How they made good with what they have, and what God has given them to work with.
It'd been about four years since I'd rented a motorbike, the last time when I lived in Asia. So it was kind of on a nostalgic whim that I decided to try out the rental places in Iquitos, and just drive out the only highway away from town. So I did. I rode out past the airport for an hour, then back, just to see what was there.
I guess I should've brought a raincoat or umbrella, because unbeknownst to me, a group of rainclouds were planning a family reunion over my stretch of road. About halfway through, I got dumped on. I swear, I don't get that wet in the shower. One particular torrent would get tired of me, then his older brother would take over. I'd wait that one out, then ride straight into the father of the bunch. It was great. I became a pruney sponge, one of those tourists that locals look at, shake their head, and laugh. "Solo un turista."
Anyway, I got back, turned the bike in, and went home. I was wet. My back hurt. My butt was sore. But I was happy.
I guess I was happy because I liked being out there. It was quiet, open, and fresh - a lot different from the constant wall of concrete in Iquitos. No noisy motorcarros. Lots of green. Kids that smile and wave.
So if you want to be a weird foreigner like me, stop by one of the rental places (there are some on Tacna close to La Plaza de 28 Julio) and go out for a couple hours. Fill up at one of the gas stations at the edge of town. A license from your home country should be good enough for the checkpoints. Examine how much damage your bike has before you go, and note it to the renter (though you probably won't have trouble; they didn't even check to see the condition of mine). And drive safe. Driving out to the airport will probably be the most dangerous thing you'll do in Peru. If you're really worried about safety, there are some rental places out past the airport, past the bad traffic. If you want, make it a day and see Quistococha zoo and lagoon on your way out. Try some suri.
Then get on the bike, and head down the only road out of Iquitos.
This town is about 45 minutes (fast boat) or five hours (slow boat) away from Iquitos. There's not much there, but I guess if you just want a change of scene from Iquitos and want to see something new, it might be interesting. If you want to try out the boats on the Amazon, this is one way to do it without eating up more than a day.
The thing I found weird about Indiana was that it had really nice roads set up...and nothing driving on them. I'm guessing it was because I went on a holiday, but I'm not sure. It just seemed eerily quiet and odd.
To go to Indiana from Iquitos, go down to the docks on Avenida de la Marina and ask around.
Going up and down the Amazon are many kinds of boats. Most people prefer the fast boats, since they get you where you're going in decent time, even if they can be ridiculously noisy. But if you have time and just want some relaxation space, try out the larger, slow boats. They truck along at a snail's pace, but on some of them you can sit up top where it's quiet, and just watch the Amazon pass by. I accidentally found myself on an afternoon (and evening...and night...) boat back to Iquitos, and I really enjoyed the trip. It was great for just sitting around, chatting, enjoying the view, and watching the sun go down. (For you coupled travelers, it's the type of thing that's enormously romantic. Really.)
Boats from Iquitos can be caught down at the river on Avenida de la Marina. Go down there and ask around for information on the boats leaving.
The Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve has a great variety of flora and fauna, and is also known as the “Jungle of the Mirrors” due to the fact that the jungle and the sky are reflected so clearly in the dark waters of its rivers and lakes, that the visitors have the sensation of navigating throughout endless mirrors of water.
The Peruvian Government established the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve with the purpose of preserving the wilderness resources and the beautiful landscapes of the area. The Reserve has an area of 8,042 square miles, which represents 1.5% of the total surface of the country. The name of Pacaya-Samiria comes from the names of two rivers that run through it: Pacaya and Samiria. The Reserve has a great diversity of wildlife as well as aquatic life: 449 bird species, 102 mammals, 69 reptiles, 58 amphibians, 256 fish and 1,204 plants.
In this tour I did not see any animals, except two monkeys and some rose river delphins. But the atmospere in the 'selva baja' is peaceful. It is nice to go by the canoe, the water streams calmly, is sometimes almost still. You feel a great admiration for the nature in all its forms.
Here you can see the effect of high tide on a football field. It is (was) the playing ground of the local school but we passed accross on a canoe...
The rainforest around the lodge is very pristine with lots of animals, especially monkeys, and birds galore. We saw many different species of insects as well.
The hugest tree I have ever seen. The top of the tree you can see in my page on Departemento de Loreto.
The many different sorts of vegetation is fascinating. The plants grow where the level of the water is changing with 12 meters(!) each half a year.
The leaves of Victoria Regia can grow as big as 140 cm and bear the weight of 3 kg. Be careful for the spins under the leave.