At 2AM a couple of weeks ago I received a wake-up call at my hotel in Lima. Yes, it was time to get up; my flight to Iquitos was at 4:55 AM and it was necessary to get to the airport hours ahead, we’d been told. And rightly. When we got there at 3:30 AM the lines were massive! We barely made it on the flight. Whew! (When I asked our Lima minder why the flights to Iquitos were so early she mumbled something about birds. Pressed, she said it was because vultures went for the garbage in Iquitos, somehow causing problems with planes. When we told our Amazon guide this he was furious. It had nothing to do with vultures, he told us, and everything to do with politicians more interested in the Andes than in the Amazon. But I digress.)
We arrived in Iquitos around 6:30 AM and found our guide who told us we were lucky to be there. The bad fog had made it very possible the plane would have been unable to land (no air controllers in Iquitos!) and gone back to Lima. I wondered about this until I met a group a few days later who had gone back to Lima in similar circumstances.
We boarded a rickety bus and careened through early-morning Iquitos. Looks like a wild and crazy place! But we left no dust as we headed for the river and the Amazon Queen. This was a quite comfortable and large ferry that took us to the first of three jungle lodges. All of these lodges were part of Explorama, an impressive organization of eco-sensitive tourist lodges. We spent our first night in their original lodge which was very pleasant. (The shot below is from their website, but gives you a nice sense of how peaceful it is at night with all the kerosene lamps.)
We then went on to spend several days at the more remote Explornapo lodge. Among the highlights was the Amazon Canopy Walkway. It gets high (122 feet) and is quite amazing. (The photo below is Explorama’s and much better than anything I could take. In fact, I couldn’t!)
Here’s my photo. (I was too busy trying not to freak out to take photos! Wonderful, but scary too.)
During our time on the Amazon we did all sorts of cool things and saw wonderful things too. I’m not much of a photographer. I’d rather just experience something than have a camera interfering. So I took only a few. Here are some of them:
The Amazon Queen
The more typical river ferry.
Hanging out with some river folk (and a pet monkey).
And the most common form of transportation along the river. (This shot is because I fell in the mud right around those canoes!)
Our guide Ari during a village visit.
Ari with a bunch of kids during a school visit.
The walkway to the toilets (or I’d call them latrines); not quite as romantic at 3 AM, I can tell you.
With a sweet baby sloth.
Giant water lilies. (We saw pink dolphins too, but I didn’t try to photograph them. Just do know that they were pink, pink, pink! I also saw amazing birds, butterflies, monkeys, and more, but didn’t try to photograph any of them either.)
What was all around me all the time I was there. (Let me tell you, the boat ride at night — scary and amazing!)
Self-portrait in hammock.
This only scratches the surface of a wonderful place. If you are adventurous I highly recommend it!