I don’t even know how to write a description of our Amazon trip that can do it justice.
The trip was absolutely the most amazing thing I have ever done. We flew from Lima to Iquitos, then travelled four hours by car and boat to arrive in Puerto Miguel, a small village on the Amazon. I really didn’t feel like a tourist on this trip (something I am so happy to say) because every day was full of adventures and you never knew what was coming up around the corner.
Our guide, Gumer, was passionate about finding animals to show us and telling us all about life in the Amazon. We learned which trees and plants are used for medicinal purposes, and which are covered in poisonous spines. He showed us different ants and bugs, the ones that bite, and the ones that just carry leaves in single file to the mother lode all day. We found and caught caimanes of various sizes in rivers and lagoons. We found a snake that was relatively harmless, but we also ran into a deadly coral snake and a massive anaconda. Gumer didn’t hesitate to catch both of them and ask if we wanted to hold them. We fed monkeys oranges and bananas. Gumer took us to a tree that is home to night monkeys so territorial they attack people sometimes (!). He proceeded to yell, whistle, and hit the tree with his machete until they woke up from their nap and peered down at us.
Needless to say, there is hardly any other place on earth that crawls with so much life in such concentration. Walking through the woods or boating along the river, life was everywhere. Trees and palms competing for light in strange shapes with huge foliage, mysterious bubbles coming up to the surface in the muddy water, bugs absolutely infinite and everywhere.
Right before we left the lodge for the last time to return to Lima, Gumer explained the role of tourism in his community. Since there isn’t much governmental presence in la selva, it is up to residents to protect their land and wildlife from exploitation and poaching. Tourism brings money to these communities, so that inhabitants are able to preserve nature and community traditions. I hope that this system truly works for the benefit of these communities, and that tourism continues to serve them well.
Thank you to Gumer, everyone at Curuhuinsi Lodge, and Patty, our Program Coordinator!