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Posts Tagged ‘Amazon’

(Happy St. Patty’s day! Someone have five or twelve Irish Car Bombs for the Khalerias… there’s not a Guinness in sight around these parts…)

From Iquitos, Ryan and I took a five day, four night canoe trip deep into the Amazonian Jungle with a native guide and a cook/boat driver. We spent our days on a tributary of the Amazon called the Ucayali – canoeing, fishing, and looking for (i.e. eating) weird animals and plants. Our nights were spent set up at a campsite made by our guide with a machete and some seriously strong arm muscles.

Among the giant spiders, beautiful butterflies, and millions of mosquitoes, we saw pink dolphins, sloths, monkeys, toucans, tarantulas, water snakes, alligators, and an electric eel. And unfortunately, I have documentation of very few of these. Jungle creatures aren’t too fond of being photographed.

  • Coolest jungle-ing adventure: night hunting for alligators
  • Worst ever: having over 800 mosquito bites. each.

IMG_2889 The ride in.

IMG_3022Makeshift campsite.

IMG_3064 Our guides navigating the jungle by canoe.

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Tarzan. (or Jane)

IMG_3091 Afternoon fishing.

IMG_3000 Tastes like chicken.

Don’t be fooled by the pretty pictures… the jungle is a scary place with evil monsters lurking around every corner, and it will make you crazy if you stay in it long enough. Five days was about two days too long for me… although I will blame the mosquito bites for that, and not my inner wuss starting to kick in.

PS. A note on the infamous Amazon River dolphin (aka ‘bufeo colorado’): yes, they really do look like the picture below. It’s not really known why they are pink – theories say it could be the iron rich content of the water, the high number of blood vessels close to the surface of their skin, or a result of the crustaceans they eat. Also, the vertebrae in their neck aren’t fused, meaning they can turn their head a full 180 degrees. Which means they might be aliens.

pinky Pinky the dolphin. (this is not my picture. obviously)

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Iquitos

Iquitos – the largest city in the world that is not accessible by road – was the destination of our boat trip up the Amazon River.

The history of Iquitos is really interesting…  the city was built on the huge influx of wealth from a rubber boom in the 1800s. Some decades later, a few seedlings from the rubber tree were smuggled to Malaysia, and the city suffered a massive crash of their economy. The result is a lot of really old, unkempt buildings that look like they used to be gorgeous.

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The most interesting area of Iquitos is a district called Belen – which houses 20,000 people in floating homes connected by waterways (think Venice… kind of.) The locals travel around by canoe.

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IMGP2837 Our canoe trip through Belen with the Sweds, Erik and Elin*

*Big thanks to Erik and Elin for the photos in this blog post – my camera died the day we took the trip through the Belen floating villages and markets.

More on the Belen Market soon – it deserves its own dedicated post!

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The Gilmer, a cargo ship, carries passengers and cargo up the Amazon River to villages and towns upstream that cannot be accessed by road. We spent five (crowded) nights on hammocks on the boat deck with 250 other travelers.

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The Gilmer at port.

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Mass hammock = not so much space.

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Villages along the river.

The trip itself was really cool; we stopped at different towns along the water to pick up/drop off passengers and supplies. Among the cargo on our ship were the following things:

  • Two monkeys
  • Three pigs
  • Five dogs
  • Enough chickens to feed 250 people a day for five days
  • Countless birds
  • A few cats
  • A million spiders
  • Two million children
  • Five million bananas

One of the monkeys was the cutest. Even when it tried to steal Ryan’s stuff out of his backpack. This also spurred the previously mentioned desire to buy a pet monkey.

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Other highlights: Ryan and I were followed around by a kid the entire trip, who enjoyed pinching us when we weren’t looking. And I was the victim of a water balloon ambush by a group of Peruvian children for two days straight. They liked to drench me with water balloons and yell ‘gringo!’.

Overall: The Amazon is awesome. And really pretty. Especially the sunsets…

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After our canyon hike, we headed back to Lima. We said adios to Parsonian, we headed over the Andes on a looong bus ride (30 hours) to Pucallpa in the north of Peru. Pucallpa doesn’t have much to offer but a gateway for people (and cargo) to travel up the Amazon. From Pucallpa, you can get all the way to the Atlantic Ocean via the Amazon River through Peru and Brazil.

IMG_2483 The Andes through the bus window.

Since Pucallpa is so far off the beaten path, cars are a novelty and most people travel by mototaxi. And there are a million of them. In fact, thats all there is. And one grocery store that closes at sunset.

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The soonest boat we could catch left four days after we arrived in Pucallpa… and we decided to head to a town about ten kilometers away on an oxbow lake, with lots of floating hotels, shops and villages.  No one knew the name of the town, not even a waiter at one of the restaurants there. It sounds something like Yamaguchi.

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IMG_2530 Our hotel.

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Resident toucan.

From there we boarded the Gilmer, our cargo ship that took on a five day trip up one of the Amazon tributaries and into the Peruvian jungle…

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The Peruvian jungle…

… is really hot.  And the bugs are really big. And the internet is really, really slow. But we´re having a really great time. I almost bought a monkey this morning – it was the cutest thing I have ever seen in my life, and it was only seven dollars.

More to come on the jungle (and our five day boat trip up the Amazon River) when we get somewhere where they have heard of Wifi, and there are computers that are new enough that they actually have USB ports…

PS. We are far from the site of the 8.8 magnitude earthuake off the coast of Chile, and glad that we took our Nazca flight two weeks ago… phew. http://www.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/americas/02/25/peru.crash/index.html?hpt=T2

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