Study Abroad Peru: Rainforest Excursion

By Jamie F., Guestblogger from Cusco, Peru SALUD program

Sadly this is my last blog about Peru…

So we left the somewhat modern civilization that I had come to
know for the past 5 weeks and ventured into the rainforest/jungle/selva/amazon
(whatever you want to call it) there were all sorts of animals. We took a
30 min plane ride into Puerto Maldonado and were met by a guide who took us on
a 1 hr bus ride to the Tambopata River. We were given all natural,
rainforest snacks of fresh banana trips, a local cocona juice, tiny (finger)
bananas and the most famous, brazil nuts. We boarded a small boat that luckily
had a good motor and were on the river for about 3 hours with some occasional
stops for animal sightings. We were given another local delicacy for lunch: a
fried rice dish in a banana leaf that we disposed of in the water when we were
done. We very much felt like jungle people! 

Once the boat dropped us
off at the lodge we hiked up some makeshift wooden stairs that they have to
rebuild every year because the river rises at least 10 feet in the rainy season,
and walked about 20 minutes to the lodge. Our first view of the lodge was
surprising because it seemed very nice. We were greeted by cool towels and cool
pineapple juice with our introductions for the lodge. We ventured down the
pathway to our rooms that only had 3 walls (aka one entire side was completely
open to the world outside. There were no lights in the lodge only candles
and lamps (lit for only 4 hours a day) and no hot water but there was running
water and mosquito nets for the bed so I was pleased. 

Since we arrived a little early we were able to hike into the
jungle and up the 30m tower in hopes of seeing some birds as the sun set. We
didn’t see too many birds but did hear plenty of insects as the sun went down.
However it was an absolutely incredibly view of the forest since we were level
with some of the taller trees and could see for a few miles versus a few feet
from within the depths of the forest. Adjusting to the little light available
and finding critters of all sorts (David loved watching the frogs eat insects)
was a little tough but nonetheless a learning experience.  We all
double-checked our mosquito nets to make sure they were intact and tried to get
a few hours of sleep.

We were supposed to leave at 5:45 the next day to go to the lake
at sunrise but it was raining so our guide said nobody would be out there. Once
it stopped raining we made our way out to the lake and were able to see some
really neat, noisy birds in the trees and a bunch of fish surrounding our boat.
Later that day we went on a walk with a shaman that resides and works by the
lodge and he showed us many of the medicinal plants that he uses including the
hallucinogen that is very popular with shamans (ayahuasca). We took a boat ride
across the river to a local farm where we walked around and got to try many of
the different things that grew there including a stick of raw sugar cane!

The next day we did actually get up at 4am and go a little
upriver and through a path that was at times slightly harrowing to reach the
most amazing spot of the adventures there, the bird clay lick. For a short time
each day the birds (parrots, macaws…) go to this place and eat the clay
because it neutralizes the bad things they may eat. We saw some of the most
gorgeous sights of hundreds of birds frolicking in the trees near us. We
just sat mesmerized for quite some time. Later that day we went to the mammal
clay lick but we were told it was always less likely to see things. There was a
monkey climbing around in the tree near us so we really made our own path in
the woods trying to see him but he decided to take a nap and we never got a
great view of him. Our last night concluded once again with superb food (all
the food was absolutely delicious and like almost all the other food I had in
Peru very natural and mostly local). I somehow managed only to get 4
bites which were well worth the time spent in the rainforest!

We journeyed back to San Diego for about 30 hours and I left with
one of the best experiences of my life.  Now that my Spanish is a little
better I definitely want to return to South America.  If you want to hear
any more about the adventures let me know but I don’t want to bore the rest of
you with any more details. Hope everyone is doing well and I look forward to talking
to you all now that I’m back (well after the 12th I’ll actually be free from my
MCAT lockdown mode).

Here is the link to my Picasso albums online.  I don’t have
time to put up captions until after the 12th so check back after then if you
want to see what the pictures are actually of, sorry!
Album 1   Album 2

con amor,

Click for information on AmeriSpan’s language programs in Cusco.

Click for information on AmeriSpan’s SALUD program in Cusco.

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