Just out of Reach

The last couple of days in the Amazon Jungle were like a desperate struggle to grasp something that my fingertips could only brush against. I know, I keep complaining about how short-lived the excursion was, how it wasn’t enough to satisfy my adventurous needs. Well, I truly can’t get that thought out of my head when reminiscing on my trip to Peru. It’s the one thing that felt really incomplete amongst it all. We needed to plan better and we kind of fucked that up.

But despite the title of this article, I won’t spend any more time whining, at least not about that. I’ll just dive right into it.

Teresa, myself, and the rest of our tour group along with our two guides, Bylly and José, left the Cloud Forest after our morning walk and continued descending into the lowland jungle. Halfway there, our van got a flat. As we were chilling on the road waiting for it to be changed, we came across these beauties, seemingly feasting on the gravel itself:

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There were small villages along the way, one which we stopped over in and crossed this really old, decrepit bridge.

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One thing that really pissed me off about the whole thing was our driver. We were on an Amazonian excursion, with emphasis on the preservation of the natural environment. This bastard was snacking on plastic-wrapped sugary bullshit and throwing the garbage right out the window…THROWING GARBAGE INTO THE AMAZON JUNGLE. It blew my mind that I was witnessing this. Like, you know it happens, obviously, because you see litter all over the place all the time. But to watch it happen while being on the excursion was outrageous and extremely contradictory to what the whole trip was about.

Now that I’ve adequately vented about that, the rest was really awesome.

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We arrived at a tiny village where we had lunch along a wide river. Afterward, we boarded a couple of long, narrow boats and made our way deeper into the jungle. After about an hour, we got off at a place called Erika’s Lodge. It was fairly similar in setup compared to the lodge we’d just slept in in the Cloud Forest, but the grounds were a lot bigger and the space was a little more open. This time, trails into the jungle surrounded us on either side and instead of a road a few hundred metres out, we had the river.

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When we arrived, it was raining and Teresa and I were ready for some hiking. Unfortunately, Bylly and José were of the mindset that if it was raining, we weren’t going to be going anywhere because…I don’t know, it was wet and that’s scary? Mind blown again: a group of people sign up to enter the rainforest and the guides assume we’d be deterred by the rain. It wasn’t even a torrential downpour; there was no thunder and lightning, just rain. And, they had given us rubber boots for the wet trails. So, what the hell?

Eventually, Teresa and I convinced Bylly that, screw everyone else if they wanted to sit around, we came here for some jungle. So we geared up, threw on some ponchos and our rain boots, and headed into the jungle. This was after Teresa and I left on our own to do some exploring by ourselves without asking anyone. I think that because we knew we only had a couple more days and so much of that time was spent traveling from place to place, we had zero time to waste.

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Bylly took us into the jungle and Uzi, the Israeli guy, decided to come along with us as well. Everyone else stuck around the cabins. It was really cool, and the rain water really brought out the lush, green vibrancy of the flora. We saw bullet ants, these beastly ants whose bites are so ferocious they apparently hurt nearly as much as a gunshot. We saw a variety of colourful birds as well. We ended up coming to a rushing, white-water river that we attempted to find shallow areas of to cross. After getting about halfway across we decided to turn back; it would have been legitimately dangerous to have attempted to go further. Bylly cut a lot of the trail for us with his machete as we went along.

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The following morning we boarded the boats again to head to the clay lake, which was really just a patch of clay on the side of the river where certain types of parrots and other birds come to feed on the mineral nutrients in the clay. We all used binoculars to view the birds which only come in for a short period of time early in the morning.

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In the afternoon, about 4 of us, with Bylly, took the boat further down the river and got off at this random-seeming location along the jungle. We were trekking along a trail and were suddenly bombarded by the sound of these massive birds I’d never seen before. The next thing I knew, we were surrounded by all kinds of wildlife, including monkeys in addition to the variety of birds. This was when things got really cool because we really felt like we were out of our element and in another creature’s habitat where anything could happen. This is what we had come for.

The trail lasted for some time and we eventually made it to a smaller, more peaceful river with several wooden rafts docked at the shore. Teresa and I boarded one of the rafts, watching a variety of colourful birds swooping overhead, landing on the surrounding trees. As we were cruising down the small river, we spotted a capybara. It looks like a beaver and is actually the world’s largest rodent. I’d first heard of it watching a nature documentary where a gigantic python had creeped into the water and snagged one of these poor guys out of it.

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We docked on a shore farther away and hiked even deeper into the jungle. Here, different kinds of monkeys were swinging overhead, all over the place. It was really cool, and I began filming it, a video which I uploaded to my Facebook page a couple of days later (I thought I had taken more pics of this but apparently not, so be sure to check out the vid!). This hike was overall one of the best experiences that Teresa and I had had in Peru.

We went back the way we had come. I remember being on the raft on the way back with no tree cover whatsoever. It was scorching hot and we were still recovering from the brutal burns we’d received while hiking Colca Canyon.

Later in the afternoon, Teresa and I took a much needed nap. About an hour later, Bylly was waking us up to go on another hike, this time to a zip-line location further in the jungle, about a 45 minute walk from our cabin. Teresa couldn’t recover from the need to sleep so she remained passed out in bed while myself, Bylly and Uzi hiked up some hilly terrain to the zip-line locations. The hike was brutal because I was still pretty groggy from the nap, but once we got to the platforms, I was wide awake.

The equipment we used was old and rusty and I wondered more than once how well the jungle would break my fall if that were to be the case. Fortunately, the three lines remained intact for the adventure and we got some amazing views of the foliage from up above. After flying down the last line, we all rappelled down to the jungle floor again, near a quiet lagoon. Resting on a log on the far end was a solitary caiman, quietly relaxing. It was an awesome site and I knew Teresa would be annoyed with herself once I told her how fun the whole experience was and what we got to see just before we started hiking back. I was not wrong about her reaction.

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This was pretty much the last truly adventurous thing we did in Peru. The following day, most of the group separated from us as they continued even deeper into the Amazon to tent in the middle of the jungle. We, on the other hand, boarded the boats and headed back to the village where our van was awaiting us to take us on the 9 hour mission back to Cuzco. The only hitch on the ride back was that the mountainside had collapsed onto the road and we had to wait for a crew of men to clear it away and begin patching it up.

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I was really sad to be leaving, but we met a lot of great people, Bylly included, and it truly was an awesome time.

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We spent another day in Cuzco, enjoying the food, the markets, and the culture. We stayed in a small hostel this time before heading to the bus station for our whopping 20 hour bus ride back to Lima. That one took a lot of meditation to get through. Arequipa to Cuzco was really bad, and even though it was shorter than Cuzco to Lima, it still somehow ended up being the worst for a variety of reasons. The latter, we pretty much knew what we were in for, and managed to just settle ourselves as best we could.

My next article on Peru will be the last…the last couple of days in Lima before we would return from yet another adventure…

Be sure to check out the Facebook page above for all of the vids we took, both in Peru and the Philippines!

14 thoughts on “Just out of Reach

  1. That driver really needs his head smacked for littering! Your adventures make our trip to Peru seem very tame, but I’m guessing you are less than half our age, so I don’t feel too bad. 🙂 I don’t mind treking through the rain forest in the pouring rain, as that’s all part of the experience, like when we were in Costa Rica and got drenched to the skin, but a twenty hour bus ride would not be my idea of a good time.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Just to be painfully clear, this was in Manu, was it not? The Manu Biosphere reserve has been popping up again and again in my readings about jaguar/wild felid/rainforest conservation. It seems like an interesting place.

    The littering bit is upsetting though. Anyone associated with the tour company should set an example for the travelers, not trash the place. But I suppose those who’ve spent many years in the Amazon might not realize just how special it is, much like us North Americans sometimes overlook how splendid our local natural spaces are. That doesn’t excuse the driver’s behavior, however.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Oh man, that’s awesome! I hope your friends were able to get pictures to show you!

        I know it’s a long shot, but I’ve begun to realize that Manu would be an excellent place to conduct my Master’s research. It has jaguars, is located in the Amazon (which I’ve always dreamed of visiting), is the site of what appears to be one of the more successful community-based conservation endeavors in jaguar territory, and has an established internship program.

        Liked by 1 person

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