The trip in the Amazon jungle was my “trip of a lifetime”. You know what these are: those trips that you plan for years and years and then you start saving money for them for more years and years, until they finally happen. The sheer size of the Amazon River gave it a legendary figure: second longest river in the world, but with the largest waterflow and an average discharge that is greater than all the next seven largest rivers combined. Almost 50 kilometers wide during the rainy season, 1,100 tributaries and I should probably stop here.
A trip to the Amazon River is not one of those trips in which you jump in your car on a whim and drive from Berlin to Paris or from Washington DC to Boston. You need a tour company to guide you and choosing one is not the easiest task. You want to get as much of the experience as possible (agreeably, this is a place where you are less likely go back just whenever you feel like it), but without getting anything else, like animal bites or near death experiences. This is why when selecting the company, I tried to look beyond the marketing part of it and read more in depth as to what the company offers. I stopped at Green Tracks (http://www.greentracks.com) and not only because their sustainable message appealed to me, but also because I looked at their staff and found that the people running the day-to-day trips and tours have backgrounds in anthropology or environmental studies. So, they definitely seemed like the right people for a trip to the Amazon.
The second big choice that I had to make was the type of trip to select from Green Tracks (and trust me, they have a lot). After much consideration, I chose the Amazon Camping Trip, mainly because I liked how it was presented as a trip for “those wanting to experience the rainforest on their own terms and indulging their personal interests”. On my own terms…Cool! Usually I had to fight for having anything on my own terms and here they were offering it right up front. The camping trip is in the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve, a great place for spotting animals and birds, navigating small rivers and canals and just feeling great about being in the rainforest (let’s call it the jungle, from now on, it just sounds so much cooler).
He reason I am going so fast through this part is because I wanted to tell you more about what this trip actually meant, other than talking about all these things you get to do. Camping in the jungle is probably the best experience ever. First, this is not a honeymoon safari, where being in the wild actually means staying at a luxurious lodge. Camping in the Amazon actually means spending time on the ground, in the jungle, in tents, hearing the sounds of the rainforest, the thrill of the wilderness, the danger of wild animals (yes there are snakes, so be careful). Second, there are no words to describe what this amazing experience really means to a person: you have to try it yourself. If I did it, anybody can (and no, the piranhas don’t go chasing you in the boat!). Have fun and be sure to send us photos!So, it all started in Iquitos, in Peru. We visited the confluence of the Ucayali and Marañon rivers, where the whole Amazonian madness begins as these two rivers merge to produce the Amazon. We stayed at the Pacaya-Samiria Amazon Lodge and then spent 4 nights camping in the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve. I experienced all the excitement I expected to and desired on this trip: I fished for piranhas, I took the canoe down Yagua Creek (and by the majestic “I”, I mean of course that I was accompanied every second of the way by one of the professional guides), and I met some of the locals in a riverside village.