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Tuesday 2 Mar 2010
Iquitos, Peru

4 day Amazon trek

Arrived in Iquitos this morning after yet another 3 hour flight delay, despite me making SURE to get there on time (which involved waking up at 5am, despite only getting to sleep at around 2am ... damn Lima hotels!)

Iquitos is literally right beside the Amazon river in Peru (well it's situated beside a tributary, but the main river is only 2 mins boat ride out). As our plane flew in, I got my first glimpse of the vast Amazon basin in all it's green glory! It was such a fantastic experience to FINALLY see the river I've heard so much about, or only seen on National Geographic. Another one to add to the "best trip memories" catalogue.

I'm here in Iquitos to, obviously, partake in some Amazon river explorin' ... and it seems that Peru is probably a better place to see the Amazon than Brazil as Brazil's section of the Amazon at Manaus is so wide that it basically resembles an ocean and wouldn't have the real "roughin' it in the Amazon jungle" feeling about it. Peru, on the other hand, has the large river but at least you can see both banks at the same time, plus it has many tributaries where the real adventure takes place as the monkeys/snakes/aligators/spiders tend to congregate amidst the dark, quiet and mysterious tributaries that shoot off from the Rio Amazonas proper.

I read on d'net that getting a trip set up here was just a matter of turning up and one of the many companies will clamber for your Peruvian Soles (no I'm not selling my soul just yet ... that's the national currency and yet ANOTHER one I need to learn to calculate into Euro!). And that's pretty much what happened to me ... after checking into my hostel I wandered down to the main street, which could just as well be called "GringoLandia" as well on account of the Tourist-only signage and a rather large, excellently-decorated restaurant called the "Texas flower..."  or something which serves the best burritos I've had in a good while.

On arriving, the touts arrived en masse, but I ignored them and instead ventured into some of the offices to start pricing trips. The first one I went into was a fairly luxurious dealie that would cost about US$400 for a 3 day/2 night trek... erm PASS. Then I went into an ecological agency that was housed alongside some English bloke called "Mad Bill" who specialises in selling "Off" mozzie-repellent. Here I was offered pretty much the same deal, albeit without some of the frills for about US$200 for 4 days/3 nights ... sounded about right to me so I went ahead with it and I'm getting picked up from my hostel tomorrow at 6.45am.

Most of these tour companies have lodges that are based somewhere out in the rainforest along one of the tributaries of the Amazon, and it's from here that you venture out each day and also at night to view the different array of animals. So it's not like I'll be stuck on a boat again for the next 4 days. I'm STILL suffering slightly from that vertigo-esque "wavy" feeling when I'm walking about (I guess the waves in the Galapagos really got imprinted in my mind) so the last thing I'd want is more nights on water!

Because the lodges tend to be away from the main Amazon river, I'm gonna try to get a boat out onto the actual river on the morning of the 7th March before my flight leaves Iquitos back to Lima at 12.30pm... can't exactly arrive here and not ride on the bloody river!

So no Internet for the next 4-5 days folks... will update ya when I'm back on the 7th!

Pete out

P.S. I had my first encounter with a scam artist later this evening. While walking to the shops to get some bottled water, an English bloke in a baseball cap came up to me and asked me for help. He spoke well, although did look rather dishevelled and had the "1,000-yard stare" of someone who takes a lot of drugs. He explained how he had been robbed a few weeks earlier and when he punched one of the attackers he broke his finger (cue holding up a dislocated finger with a scab on the end). Anyway, at this stage I'm a bit wary of his story as for instance, why hadn't he contacted the British embassy in Lima, and why wasn't he managed to get medical assistance if it's been several weeks since the incident. It was obvious he was going to try to extort money from me .. and when the magical words came: "I've been told that I need to see a doctor but it costs 70 Soles to get there", I knew I had to lose him. So I basically responded by saying I couldn't help him with cash, but I recommended he go talk to Alex Weiss who runs the tour company a few streets down and he should be able to help him. I even offered to escort him back to Alex once I'd bought my water, but by that stage he'd scarpered off.

I find the fact that some tourists get bought in by this sort of crap immensly funny!

3 Comments for this Travel blog entry

Paddy Says:

3 March 2010

It's going to be nice for sure ! Waiting impatiently for your updates... Take care man :)

Gazbro Says:

6 March 2010

Hi Bro, you must have been a little worried when you heard about tsunami warning, so were we! I believe Chili is experiencing quake aftershocks going there next? Great wildlife photos at Galapagos, and so tame!

Matt Says:

9 November 2010

Hey Peter. I dont know if you'll actually see this, but... I wanted to see how iquitos amazonas was in march... Have heard it's the rainiest, most humid, highest-water-level month of the year, and that it can impede amazon exploration... wadayathink?

peterforan Replies:

9 November 2010

Hi Matt,

It was fine when I was there, although it did rain on one day which resulted in a little less time for jungle trekking. The rest of the time it was perfect... not too hot either and there was a fresh breeze in the forest which astonished me!

South America Twenty Ten

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After previously dipping my toes in Latin America via trips to Cuba and Central America, it's time to go for the big splash! 3 1/2 months to take in as much as I can, armed with little more than my camera, laptop and a few dodgy Spanish phrases.

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