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Posts Tagged ‘Iquitos’

(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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The highlight of Iquitos is the Belen market, where all of the local indigenous people from the surrounding areas bring in their goods from the jungle to sell. There you can find pretty much anything (seriously: anything) you want to buy.

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Care for a turtle part?

IMG_2860 Honey – fresh from the hive.

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Croc hands and tobacco.

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Piles of meat.

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Sleepy sloth.

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Grub: Timon and Pumba are jealous.

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Skulls from… something?

From Iquitos we headed five days into the jungle for some extreme camping and sightseeing…

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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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