Destination: Peru

Since watching the movie Medicine Man in the eighth grade, I’ve wanted to see the Amazon Rainforest. Something about this destination – rich with biodiversity, much of it untouched by man, humidity, rain, all of it – draws me in. So I’ve finally decided to make the trip.

Part of me is afraid that if I don’t go soon, we will have destroyed it (we being people: ranchers, loggers and the like). I hope that doesn’t end up being the case. Perhaps with carefully planned, sustainable ecotourism, business people in that part of the world will come to see the value of preserving the rainforest and sharing it with generations to come. But rather than delve into the political and economic implications of preserving or not preserving the land, let me tell you about my trip.

I plan to go next July. I thought about going sooner, but factoring in my schedule and the weather over there – July is the best match. I did a lot of research on the various countries which the rainforest encompasses and decided on Peru.

In my information gathering I found another amazing landmark in Peru that I absolutely can’t miss in this lifetime – Machu Picchu. Machu Picchu is The Lost City of the Incas. The Incas started building the city on a mountain ridge above the Urubamba Valley around 1430 AD. Less than a hundred years later, during the time of the Spanish conquest, most of the inhabitants were wiped out by what is now thought to have been small pox. The city was lost to the outside world. In 1911, an American historian stumbled upon this miraculous city, led by a native Quechua boy. The site was named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1983. The first four days of my trip will be spent in and around Machu Picchu.

Then, I’ll be off to the Amazon Rainforest!  I plan to go with a company called Rainforest Expeditions. They run three Amazon lodges near Puerto Maldonado, Peru. The company runs environmentally conscious, sustainable ecotourism with local guides. The lodges originally started with a research project to protect the local macaw parrots. The research continues to this day.

I’ll spend the first few days at the Refugio Amazonas lodge, a few hours boat ride from Puerto Maldonado. Once there, I’ll spend time searching for camen, hiking the Brazil nut trail, taking in the view from the canopy tower and visiting Oxbow lake.

Next, it’s off to the Tambopata Research Center (TRC), 4.5 hours downriver. TRC is in the heart of the rainforest, more than seven hours by boat from the nearest town. It is rife with flora and fauna and is near the largest macaw clay lick in the world. I’ll spend my days hiking, checking out the palm swamp, the floodplains, bird watching and looking out for the local animals (monkeys, camen and the like).

The trip is going to be fabulous, and I absolutely can’t wait! I’m planning on taking this one solo, but if anyone is interested in tagging along, I’m always up for a good travel partner! Drop me a line.

photo credit: magnusvk

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