Posada Amazonas, Peru

View of Tambopata river from canopy tower

What an abrupt change in location. Just this morning, I woke up in the temperate coolness of the Andes and now I'm sitting on a jungle lodge in the Amazon, wiping the sweat off my sticky forehead while reaching for another dab of insect repellent to keep mosquitoes at bay. This is the wonder of Peru: the varied topography means varied climates which means varied ecosystems.

I checked out of Hostal Amaru early this morning, reminding the staff that I'll be back after 3 days, gave them my duffel bag for storage and my soiled Inca trail clothes for laundering. With my daypack full of stuff for my jungle trip to Puerto Maldonado, I walked down to Plaza de Armas and just basked in the early morning sunshine. The short taxi ride to the airport can wait a little while.

Two hours later, I was looking down intently from the plane's window at the wide swath of broccoli green interspersed every now and then by brown serpentine tributaries to the Amazon river. It is a beautiful sight in itself, here in this most diverse ecosystem of the world. I know there are many secrets of the Amazon jungle and most of them won't be revealed to me but I remain excited at the opportunity to scratch at least something in its varied surface.

At Puerto Maldonado airport, I was jolted for a moment when my name wasn't on the list of visitors to be picked up for the boat ride to Posada Amazonas. Geraldine, one of the guides, took no time in sorting out this little mishap and found my reservation somewhere. I got into the Rainforest Expeditions truck and joined a group from Australia as we zoomed for an hour into the dusty, bumpy road leading to Tambopata river where our longboat awaited.

Our packed lunch was handed to us as we boarded the longboat. It was actually packed using banana leaves with fried rice and bits of chicken rolled into it. Nice touch for a biodegradable statement as all we need to do was toss the leaf overboard after eating.

An hour upstream into Tambopata river, a major tributary of Madre de Dios which ends up ultimately in the Amazon river, we saw less human habitation as the forest grew thicker and denser.Soon we arrived at a wooden jetty jutting out barely in the riverbank. It took us a 10-minute walk along a forest trail before emerging into a clearing where Posada Amazonas is, the jungle lodge owned jointly by Rainforest Expeditions and the local community of Infierno. The 1-million hectare Reserva Nacional Tambopata is directly adjacent to the lodge.

After a short introduction to Posada Amazonas and the activities being offered, we embarked on a visit to the canopy tower, a 35-meter tall metal tower some 20 minutes walk along the forest trail. Our group, led by Geraldine and Betzy, climbed to the top of this narrow tower, swaying as it did while we move up the steep stairs. The view was indeed a good way to see the forest canopy up close and even beyond. I scanned the green horizon and pointed my binoculars aimlessly until somebody mentioned some birds nearby. We all focused at the same spot and wondered what feathered kind we saw. Then someone pointed at a monkey and we all excitedly aimed our binoculars to where we see movement on a tree branch. Who knows it could be the smaller version of Big Foot?

My wall-less room at Posada Amazonas

As the sun dipped into the western horizon, the sounds of the forest became more intense. It's a harmonious sound unlike anything I've heard. It came from all directions at once and blaring at various decibels. Mother Nature here certainly knows how to conduct a full orchestra without the rigors of so much practice. We all went down in the darkening forest floor and trooped back to the lodge with our headlamps illuminating the muddy path. I was careful not to mistake a twig or a branch for a cobra.

At the lodge, I found my bed was already prepped-up with the canopy of mosquito net unfurled and fitted securely. The kerosene lamps were lit and as my room shares no wall with the forest in front of it, the sounds of nature just bellowed freely like a jukebox machine. I took a cold shower (there's only cold shower anyway) in the en-suite bathroom while the crickets and cicadas continued to serenade me with their rendition of "Strangers in the Night".

I wonder who's gonna sing for me in the pre-dawn darkness tomorrow?

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