When you fly in to a high altitude city like Quito or Cuzco, the first thing you should stock up on is the Coca tea. It has a vaguely herbal taste but the real reason you’re taking it is to ward off the effects of altitude sickness which could catch you unawares and spoil your holiday for a few days.
My friend Joanne didn’t initially notice any ill effects of altitude sickness on her recent visit to Peru. But when she was at Machu Picchu, some of her group started feeling quite ill with it. That was when their local guide whipped out some of the coca leaves and gave them to the group to chew on their walk up to the Inca city. Suddenly Joanne found that she had a spring in her step and the steep climb didn’t seem so daunting.
On the flight back to Lima, Joanne was waiting in the small airport and ordered a cappuccino from the small family cafe. Although it was served in the best china cup, what she got was some hot milk and a sachet of Nescafe. The ultimate in sophistication, I think you’ll agree! The lesson is – when in Rome, stick to the Cappuccino, but when in Peru, try the Coca tea.
This post is part of Photo Friday – check all the other Friday photos over at Delicious Baby.
When you go for the rainforest you may as well leave your vanity behind. The constant downpours and lack of a hairdryer will make your bouncy locks go limp and forget any perfume or scented toiletries or the mosquitos will soon come buzzing around.
However, one piece of fashion wear is de rigeur for every self respecting eco-tourist and that is a brightly coloured poncho. You can buy it for a couple of dollars at the local riverside store before you jump on your motorised canoe, as my friend Joanne did on her trip to her Peruvian eco-lodge. You can see her Canadian friend Sean modelling it above, completing the look with his mosquito net headgear.
There were some rash individuals who thought that their waterproof jackets would be enough, but little did they know! In the downpours that followed (doh, I guess that’s why it’s called the rain-forest), theirs were the legs and backpacks that got soaked, while those with a poncho were much better protected by the all-encompassing caress of luminous plastic.
So don’t get wet, pick up a Poncho!
After treking and sightseeing in Peru, a stay at an eco-lodge is one of the top ways to relax and experience the rainforest in the Amazon basin. After her trip to Machu Picchu that’s just what my friend Joanne had in mind and discovered that it’s called the ‘rain’ forest for a good reason.
Joanne flew from Cusco to a small airstrip and then took a bus to the river stop-off point from where a motorised canoe took her group the 3 hr journey to the Tambopata ecolodge. After half an hour, you guessed it, it started to pour and despite the canopy they were under, they all got drenched. Luckily, the rain stopped for the last part of the boat trip and they were able to spot some howler monkeys, weaver birds, eagles and parrots, all pointed out by their eagle-eyed guide, Wilma.
Once they had arrived and settled in, they were taken on a night walk, with the sounds of the rainforest all around them. The next day, they were taken by boat to visit a nearby ox-bow lake with some Pihrana spotting thrown in, and guess what – it poured again. After returning to the lodge to dry off, Joanne was chilling in her hammock when she spotted a wildlife drama unfolding before her. A large capibara, a native rodant had hidden under a bush and was catching and eating the little birds that landed nearby, causing plenty of squawking and commotion. Read about it here in my previous article – the Capibara gets the bird.
There were around 50 guests in the lodge staying in thatched cabins and they all ate together in the evenings – a bit like school dinners but Joanne enjoyed the meals of chicken, rice and beans. In the evening it was off again for some Cayman spotting by torchlight – with their local guide Elvis whose practiced eye picked out the eyes of the Caymen in the dark. In only an hour they were able to spot eight or nine small caymen around two feet long, lurking in the darkness.
On the final morning, the group were given allowed the big treat of a cooling swim in the river lake behind the lodge, although Joanne didn’t fancy the murky water or the thought of what might be squelching between her toes in the mud at the bottom, so she gave it a miss. Then it was back on the canoe the way they’d come and a flight back to Lima for the end of the holiday.
Joanne enjoyed her time at the Tambopata ecolodge and found it very relaxing, although she did find that there was a lot of travelling involved for a relatively short stay. But certainly a great place to unwind and enjoy the rainforest.
Tambopata Ecolodge is the Puerto Maldonado region of Southern Peru.