Wednesday, May 20: After an early breakfast at the hotel, we depart by plane for Puerto Maldonado, a small jungle town in the south of Peru, close to the Bolivian and Brazilian borders. It is also one of the main jungle destinations for touring. After we arrive in Puerto Maldonado, we transfer to the Tambopata River Dock for a 30-minute ride to the town of Infierno, where we’ll board a boat for a 2 1/2 hour boat trip to our hotel, Regugio Amazonas. We’ll stay in a lodge built on a private reserve on the buffer zone of the Tambopata National Reserve. I’m looking forward to amazing jungle landscapes I’ve only seen in National Georgraphic and travel magazines so far.
On the way we hope to see bird species typical of the river or forest edge, the black skimmer, pied lapwing, capped heron, kabiru stork, roadside hawk and several species of kingfishers, swallows and flycatchers as we enjoy our boxed lunches. What a place for a picnic!
Once we reach the hotel we’ll learn more about the philosophy behind the Infierno Ecotourism Project. I’ll probably talk more about that in a later post. Then we go to search for caiman, a type of South American crocodile like the baby one in the photograph. As night falls some of us plan to be out at the river’s edge sloshing around in our tour-provided galoshes while we scan the shores with headlamps and flashlights to catch the red gleams and reflections from caiman eyes.
The most interesting thing about this hotel is the fact that, as a partner in the ecotourism project, the lodge has NO lights, electricity, hot water, windows, or doors. (I’ve been told they do have power for one hour a day so that spoiled westerners can charge camera batteries, etc.) The rooms are completely open on one side to the jungle! But each bed is covered by mosquito netting as in the picture. At night the rooms are lit by candles, hopefully citranella. I hope there’ll be a really good flashlight available in the room as well. Plus I’ll be bedding down with my clothes sprayed and exposed body parts covered with bugspray or cream as a very necessary precaution.
In preparing for the trip, we were advised by the county health department what innoculations were beneficial and Hubby and I had all those that were considered necessary–typhoid, tetanus, hepatitis A and B, etc. My one exception was the one for yellow fever because my doctors forbade me to take because it contains live virus. Because of the medical treatments I take for my RA, my immunity is already compromised. At first the health advisor insisted I should avoid the three days of this leg of the tour since the mosquitoes are out in the daytime rather than night, but when she saw the disappointment on my face, she relented and said I should go, and then told me about other cautionary measures I could take instead.
This was the tour I most looked forward to in spite of the snakes and reptiles since I’ve heard so much about the birds and flowers, and seen such lovely pictures. Rather than have the shot, I’m taking lots of powerful bugspray, wearing long sleeves and long pants, and taking a hat with mosquito netting that will fall around my face to offer as much protection as possible.
I have one advantage that many don’t seem to have that I’m banking on for this trip too. Mosquitoes don’t usually bite me. I went to the Everglades several years ago and Hubby was slapping mosquitoes left and right and not one landed on me or bit me. I’m going as prepared as possible, but hoping with all my might as well that whatever makes my blood distasteful to American mosquitoes will hold out for South American mosquitoes as well, especially those that carry the yellow fever virus. It can’t hurt to cross my fingers too, because I really really want to do this part of the trip with everybody else.