In the Jungle: The Peruvian Amazon

Country Peru | Dates July 6-8 | Accommodation Muyuna Lodge [See My Review]

I went to the Amazon again, but in Peru this time. My sister wasn’t with me the first time so we went back together, deeper into the selva. We booked with Muyuna Amazon Lodge and had an excellent experience. We started our adventure zipping down the Rio Amazonas in a very fast speed boat, breeze in our faces, Amazon spray on our hands (well on my hand, which I stuck outside the boat). Nearly 3 hours later we arrived at the lodge feeling a bit weird due to seasickness, per usual. We were greeted by a flurry of staff in blue shirts and introduced to our guide, Rene.

Jungle Hikes

Our first organized activity was a jungle walk. Sarah and I were both suffering from bad food poisoning for days, but determined to go anyway donning our stylish (not) and hated trekking pants, long sleeves for mosquito prevention, rain jackets for the random heavy Amazon showers, and rubber boots provided to us as footwear. About 1 minute into the hike, aka while we were still at the lodge, I got hot and felt as though I would faint and my vision went black so I had to turn back. I guess I shouldn’t have not drank water for 2 days. Sarah said I didn’t miss much, but I know I did. Meanwhile at the lodge I died in my bed alone, felt sad, and chugged 3 bottles of water with sugar in it (free and creative alternative to Gatorade when it’s not available). Luckily, we went for another jungle hike our second night! During this hike we saw a tarantula, giant frog, and some cool birds. We also went for an unplanned jungle hike on our last day, climbing out of the boat after 4 hours on the water to chase some monkeys Rene spotted from afar. After 40 minutes in the undergrowth, shielding my face from mosquitoes with a new literal “hair net” of my hair covering my face (great idea, and effective I had no bites) he gave up. The closest we got was to their fresh poo, “the caca” he said, as he smelled it. But I got my second jungle walk so I was happy.

Wildlife Spotting & Boating

We spent a lot of time in small boats cruising around at various speeds as Rene perched atop the front and looked out for the animals. At times we believed he was pretending to see things, but that is not confirmed. We did spot quite a few animals though: sloths (love!) high in the trees, tarantulas, giant frog, white and black caiman, brown monkeys (rare), other monkeys, and pink dolphins. We also saw what seemed a million birds (I will try with names but I am not a bird lover or expert…) including the madre vieja with crazy feathers; one with a huge white spiky thing on its head used for mating; tuki tuki (my favorite, small and in the grasses with yellow under wings); something pescador with a big eye (also a fav); maccau; and toucans.

On our last morning we were trying to go through a dense growth of tangled floating foliage in the river when we got stuck. Rene hacked at it with his machete and after about 30+ minutes of struggle we broke through. Coming back, however, was a different story.

The Amazon is strong so the opening was gone, and our motor got stuck in the dense underbrush this time. After an hour of pushing and struggles, and of Rene literally moving parts of the river with an oar, we finally called for backup and a new boat rapido!  Eventually we made it back, with a ton of new bites from the numerous spiders, mosquitoes and other unidentified bugs lurking in the grasses we were trying to escape. Part of the adventure, right?

Swimming in the Amazon

We went for a swim in the Rio Amazonas. The river is brown/yellow and murky, and jumping into the questionable water was a bit of a struggle as we’re both germophobes. But we did it! I mean we had to. I even jumped off the side opting to get all in at once, figuring no one has died yet and the guides swim daily. The pink dolphins swam near us, although at a small distance, thank god. After the horrific biting incident in Bolivia I was terrified of them. The water was pretty warm and it was a refreshing break from the heat. Plus we get 10 years good luck from swimming in it, apparently.

Other Activities

Sunset & Caiman Hunting | We went out to see sunset in our boat, going deep into the jungle waters for a great view. After dinner, we then set out to go caiman hunting. AGAIN (I did this in Bolivia). Searching for terrifying crocodiles seems strange, yet again our guide was shining a highly powerful flashlight into the dark jungle to look for the telltale glowing red eyes. We did spot two – the while caiman and black caiman – which were smaller than expected but terrifying nonetheless.

Piranha Fishing (Again) |  We also did piranha fishing, so I have now fished piranha twice in 2 months. Normal. This time, our fishing lines had bamboo rods attached to the clear plastic string and hook. We used raw chicken (vile) to lure the piranha, me unsuccessfully as they kept eating the meat and not biting. I literally wasted 3/4 of the group’s meat bucket with my failed attempts. Meanwhile, a showoff guy who had joined our tour caught about 12 gigantic fish in ten minutes, smiling as their bloodied bodies were laid on the deck. I was wasting more meat, the only one to not catch a fish, when the expected yet unpredictable afternoon rain shower began. The shower turned to a downpour, and I realized I left my rain jacket behind. We all became soaked soon enough anyway, shivering in the boat watching the water creating beautiful droplets on the river. Rene encouraged us to keep fishing, but it became clear we weren’t into it so we turned back for the lodge. I shielded my body with a neon orange life vest.

San Juan Village | We also passed by the small Amazonian community of San Juan via boat, nearby to the lodge. Muyuna employs many people from the village (they have a partnership) and is the birthplace of our guide. We were supposed to stop to meet the locals and children multiple times, but we didn’t wind up doing so.

At The Lodge

The tour was a good balance of relaxing and activities, so we spent some time at the lodge hanging and taking in the jungle. There was no Internet or cell service whatsoever, which is how I prefer it and was quite great. We read two books apiece and I even did some writing (outside this blog!). The food was variable, pretty sick the first day then exceptional the next, although we couldn’t eat a ton in the wake of Peru Poisoning. But we enjoyed many (10+ per day) local fruits fresh from the jungle, which were available in the lodge 24/7 for greedy guests like us.

Budget and Practicalities

Tour | Book in town. It is always cheaper than pre-booking online if you have the time and flexibility. We didn’t get a discount like some of the sketchy tour companies, but still saved a lot compared to others who booked in advance. Once on the tour, no extra money needed aside from tips. Tours range from about 350 soles to 1000 soles per person, quality is highly variable. Many do not go deep into the Amazon and stop at “animal sanctuaries” (wrong zoos) and offer fake native experiences, so choose with caution. In this instance, you get what you pay for.

Iquitos | Worth at least a day! Check out Iquitos to learn more about what to see and do in the gateway to the Amazon.

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