Ian & Claire's Adventure
Day 2 At 4.45 in the AM! We were woken up to see the mating dance of the c*** of the rocks, on a purpose built platform, over the cliff. This was named by a famous English bloke who owns the biggest tour company in the jungle, he's a bird specialist, and typically English it was locked when we arrived.... They were funny bright red headed pigeon looking things, making really bizarre dances and cackling noises to each other. At this point we (and most of the others) realized that our cameras are crap in really low light so no piccies. We then wandered up the road to see some birds and our first proper daytime view of the jungle, then back to the lodge for a great breckie of bacon, eggs, plantain and tomatoes and coca tea (of course), it was slowly becoming evident how great a chef we had, oh and also that we were always going to be the last to be ready (VAMONOS!). We then left camp, a few guys mountain biked down and we started to walk down. We saw lots of beautiful birds, trees, flowers etc. Now its time to introduce the rest of them Oliver (Guide No1) an extremely eccentric and wiry 41yr old Italian guy who's lived in the jungle for years (Manu guide for 13yrs). Jungle man! Specialty Birds, and plants and eating lots of coca leaves, he didn't own a pair of shoes but had the best binoculars money can buy. Noe (Guide No2) Really friendly 27yr old Cusco guy. Been a guide for 4 years, knew loads about birds, mammals, the forest itself, always had the job of waking us up very early, and shouting VAMONOS MES CHICAS a lot. The rest of our comrades were, (sorry to pigeonhole nationalities) Joy & Anush , Nicolas, and Lea the Americans. Natalie and us the English, Vincent and later on Walter (all 6ft10 of him) the Dutch, Pedro & Solidat, Jose & Roberto the Spaniards. We all got on great, and all mucked in! On our walk down we were picked up by the bus but this time got to ride on top! Great fun had to hold on tight, fantastic views. Oliver was very funny using his machete to chop down the bamboo; we kept collecting bizarre insects as we brushed past the trees. We picked up Nicolas half way down as he was a bit concerned about his bike and the lack of steering; Lea had already fallen quite badly. We passed through small communities attempting to farm the land, the kids seemed excited to see us, chasing us and shouting HOLA! We noticed even the smallest of villages had a makeshift football pitch (and in some cases satellite TV....solar powered of course) We stopped at one place to pick up the other bikers, get bread and had some great little breads filled with melted cheese and onion....mmmmm We then arrived at Pilcopata.for the rafting, after a brief intro we hitched the raft onto our heads for the3 knackering walk to the river. It was shallow water and pretty hard work; it was slow and fairly calm except for the odd scream of LEFT EVERYONE, to lean into the waves. After a couple of KM the lads were challenged to some rock jumping, only when they got to the top did they realize quite how far they had to jump. They then floated in the water for a while (we reckoned to get out of the paddling) apparently this was really nice. We ended up in a place called Atalaya Port. After that we were introduced to our next mode of transport... the motorized canoe, and our friendly drivers. It was a far more civilized way to travel and lovely to see the forest either side of us while floating down the Alto Madre de Dios River . After 20 mins we arrived at our first little paradise, Erika lodge, our own room, showers! A sociable platform with hammocks, monkeys in the trees, a pet macaw called coca and beautiful butterflies all close view. After a late lunch the groups split, we went off for a jungle walk, while the Spanish speaking bunch went to do the canopy tour. Both Oliver and Noe took us on a full on Amazon jungle treck just 30secs from our door. 100% humidity and hot, uneventful as far as mammals were concerned but we saw a trail of leaf cutter ants and were told all about the ant kingdom. Oliver's keen eyes pointed out many birds including one he'd only seen once in his life, the kesta. The sun sets at 6pm and the jungle gets dark quickly, at this point there only seemed to be one trail but Oliver wasn't sure where it went so we all headed back with Noe and Oliver and a very brave Nicolas headed off into the darkness. The jungle walk was very steep and very muddy, but we didn't get too wet as Oliver (barefoot) offered himself as a walking stick at every crossing, and later Noe did the same. We were all completely knackered when we finally saw the clearing, no sign of the others then we saw torchlight, and they came strolling over, Nicolas said Oliver seemed lost but they plowed through knee high rivers and made it back. We rushed into those freezing showers which were soooooooo refreshing, but realized we had to stay in the same muddy wet (nothing dries in 100% humidity) for the rest of the trip. The mosquitos were viscous and all our short sleeved t-shirts were redundant, they even bit through my thin shirt. Back for great food again and straight under our mozzy nets and we both slept well that night!