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.
In October 2007 I took a trip to Ecuador with a couple of friends, down the River Bobonaza as far as the Peruvian border, where the river meets the much larger River Pastaza. Although this isn’t an open border between the two countries, we were given permission to cross over to the Peruvian town of Andaos, just for a few hours.
This is where I took the photo of these children on the banks of the river. At first I thought they were just having some fun splashing around in the water, but on looking closer I realised that they were also doing the laundry. The wooden struts of the old wooden boat made a great place for hanging out the washing. I can’t imagine my kids having so much fun loading the washing machine, can you?
See all the other Friday Photos over at Delicious Baby
Depending on your point of view you may find the Peruvian delicacy of roast guinea pig as a horrid way of treating our squeaking furry friends or just another local speciality to try. My friend Joanne decided to keep an open mind and give it a try on her trip to Peru.
In the town of Aguas Calientes, where Joanne was staying before her visit to Machu Picchu, the group stopped at the house of one of their guide’s relatives who had been brewing Chicha, the local maize beer. Apparently the chicha only keeps for a few days and so the villagers take it in turn to make the home brew, putting a red rag or plastic bag on a pole outside to let passers by know that it’s ready. Joanne tried both the red maize chicha which she thought tasted of strawberries and the yellow maize chicha which she found less appetising – the texture was a bit like an alcoholic smoothie.
As they were leaving the house, Joanne heard squeaking coming from the other side of the courtyard and when she enquired where the noise was coming from, was shown two stables full of guinea pigs running around. The first was full of fat little mummy guinea pigs, either pregnant or with their babies. The second stable was where the the guinea pigs were moved to fatten up before being sent to the great cooking pot in the sky.
Later, after she had come down the mountain from Machu Picchu, Joanne got to try out the local delicacy at a local restaurant as their guide had arranged for her group to have it as a starter to try. Beware! the Peruvians are very proud of their roast guinea pigs and can’t understand why anyone would not want to sample their local dish. It’s as natural to them as a Frenchman eating snails or an American eating a Big Mac.
The guinea pig arrived at the table looking as it it had been squashed flat by a rolling pin with a surprised expression and a pepper popped into it’s open mouth. It was stuffed with a mixture of spicy rice and vegetables and looked a bit like crispy duck but with a taste of chicken. The guinea pig was on a plate that was spun round and whichever piece ended up nearest to you was the bit you ate. Joanne was quite thankful that she got a leg rather than the head, which is considered the tastiest morsel although she found it quite bony.
She washed it down to a Pisco Sour and was pleased that the meat stew and potatoes that followed was a little closer to what she’d normally eat at home. So that was Joanne’s Christmas night dinner with a difference.
Are you one of those who tries every unusual food that’s going as part of the experience or do you stick to the familiar dishes that you’d eat at home? Would guinea pig be on your list of things to try?