The Amazon is a wonderful place, an opportunity to get really quite close to nature and reset your body clock to a more natural pace.
However, there are a few things worth bearing in mind.
Remember that the Amazon is primarily a nature rather than wildlife destination – wildlife can be very well hidden and quite hard to spot.
Don’t expect to spend all of your time looking at monkeys and parrots. Instead be prepared to enjoy watching colourful frogs, possibly wild pigs, incredible butterflies and caterpillars.
Remember that the jungle is always hot and humid and insects are a fact of life.
The environmental credentials of the lodges are a very important aspect of a holiday to Peru’s Amazon.
At Pura Aventura we are fans of the Refugio Amazonas as a lodge with is integrated into its surroundings in almost every way imaginable.
The staff are largely sourced from the tiny local Condenado and Infierno communities.
There is an impressive programme of training which means that your guide may well have started as a pot-wash in the kitchen before working and training his way up the ladder to being a guide.
This tends to give the lodge a very friendly, almost familial feel.
The lodge is placed within a 200 hectare ‘buffer zone’ on the edge of the Tambopata Reserve. It is working hard with the local brazil nut farmers to include them in the benefits from eco-tourism, thereby encouraging their participation in conservation.
The actual structure is built from wood brought in from upriver – essentially they would sit on the river banks until a fallen tree passed by and would drag it to the lodge for use in the construction.
Otherwise, materials are largely palm fronds, wild cane and clay from the surrounding area.
In most lodges electricity is provided only at certain times of day, usually first thing in the morning and then again from dusk through to dark.
Usually, beyond about 9pm you can expect to find pathways and rooms lit by candles and lanterns.
Privacy at the lodge
Rooms at many lodges are separated only by wood walls which reach only the base of the sloped roof.
This allows air to flow along above the rooms and is an essential part of the architecture in these parts.
However, as well as air, there is noise so if someone happens to be snoring a few rooms along, you will hear them. Light sleepers, take earplugs.
The jungle is surprisingly noisy, particularly at dawn.
Most lodges do have private en suite toilets and showers.
Boat travel along the river is usually by motorized dugout canoe, typically these are 20m long and less than 2m wide with a canopy roof to provide shade/rain protection.
Even with the canopy, when it rains you can get wet and when it’s sunny you can get burnt.
Seats are either along the side facing inwards or
airplane style facing forwards. The latter is usually more comfortable but much less sociable.
Bags are piled into the back of the boat so if you want to have your camera and water to hand, you should make sure to be carrying a daypack.
Travel distances by river can be long so make sure that you take a book, music or a love of ‘I Spy’ with you to make he most of this time.
The outboard motors are noisy so again you might like to take music or earplugs if you are likely to be sensitive.
A typical day
Most days will start very early as the best time of day to see wildlife is at dawn.
Don’t worry, it usually gets dark by about 6pm so often bed time is at 9pm.
04:30 Wake up ‘call’ at your door.
04:45 Grab a cup of tea or coffee from the table, perhaps a banana from the monkey proof cage.
05:00 Pull on a pair of wellies and set off with your guide to walk at a gentle pace along narrow, muddy paths amongst the trees. Walk in near silence as you and your guide listen out for wildlife and the amazing noises of the jungle dawn.
05:30 Arrive at the canopy tower. Climb up the stairs to the platform amongst the tree-tops to watch the sun rising over the Amazon.
07:30 Return to the lodge for breakfast.
09:30 Head out on foot again to visit a nearby area of Brazil nut cultivation.
11:00 Return to the lodge to crack open the shells and taste fresh Brazil nuts.
13:00 Relax in hammocks, read, play chess, listen to music, snooze.
15:00 Walk along the riverbank to an area of jungle where monkeys gather, looking for howler and capuchin.
17:00 Return to the lodge
19:30 Meet with your guide to discuss the next day’s activities or hear a talk about an aspect of conservation or responsible tourism and sustainable development.
20:00 Board the boat to explore the riverbanks near the lodge by moonlight looking for caiman.
22:00 Return to the lodge and bed.