We walked to the light rail station which took us to MSP, from there we flew to Atlanta and onward to Lima Peru. We spent a very short night in the airport hotel, just across the street from the airport. `After five hours of sleep we had a quick breakfast and headed back across the street where we flew to Cusco and then onward to Puerto Maldonado. We were met outside the gate by our guide where we took a short transfer to the boat and a few hours later we were in the rain forrest.
It rained for most of our boat ride to the lodge, but by the time we arrived it was clearing. This meant that we could do the hike to the observation tower. A 120 foot high tower that lets you observe all the different layers of the jungle canopy, including from high above where you can see for miles!
While we were enjoying our view we were joined by a clan of howler monkeys! It was amazing to watch them from above, climb through the trees and then finally up one of the support cables to the observation tower. We were a little worried they might start coming up the stairs but they kept right on moving and climbed down the wire on the other side.
We at dinner as a group, along with our guide at 7:30 and by 8:45 we were in bed. We were tired from the travel and we had a 4AM wake up for the next morning to head out to the lake and then onward for another 5 hours up the river to the Tambopata Research Center.
If you have never heard howler monkeys its really quite a thing! About 5AM we heard a sound that was just like an approaching windstorm. That is the sound that howler monkeys make in the morning to mark their territory. Incredible.
After a short boat ride we had about a 30 minute hike to the ox bow lake where we would go in search of the Anaconda (Still looking), the Caiman (a Peruvian alligator - also still looking), many birds, and do some fishing.
Well, you may be wondering what do you fish for in the Amazon? Piraña of course!
It looks a lot like a Sunfish at first glance. At least until you get a close up look at the teeth! Also, you do not typically use raw beef when fishing for Sunnies!
After our fishing excursion we were back on the river headed to our final destination for the day, which is the Tambopata Research Center. This is one of the only places in the national reserve that you can stay overnight and learn about the jungle. It is really an amazing experience.
Along the way we were keeping our eyes peeled for interesting wildlife sightings. We were richly rewarded when one of the crew spotted a Jaguar. Right out in the open sunning itself! It’s by far the best “big cat” siting we have ever had in all our travels, and I was thrilled to get some good shots.
As a final treat for the day we saw a bunch of Macaws at the “clay lick”. More on clay licking tomorrow after we learn more!