I am glad to be finally posting a recap of our time in the Peruvian rainforest a few weeks ago. Before Christmas gets here I wanted to share some pictures of where we stayed, what we did and some overall thoughts on the experience.
How did we end up in the rainforest over Thanksgiving weekend? Well, first, I am from Peru and still have quite a bit of family living there. My aunt Pierina and I were talking last year, and she thought the boys would really enjoy the rainforest. She invited us to come along with her and we jumped at the chance for a new adventure with one of our favorite people.
Preparing for our trip:
Even though we had booked our travel 6 months earlier, we really didn’t start preparing much until 3 weeks before we left. Pierina had booked our stay at Inkaterra’s Hacienda Concepción Lodge, which I will tell you more about in a little bit. Since they were taking care of all of the food and activities, there just wasn’t that much to do beforehand except pack.
When it came to packing, I did a few online searches to see what people were bringing to the Amazon jungle. A few things were apparent: it would be hot and there would be mosquitoes. Sounded a lot like Florida in the summertime. Hmmmm…
The main concern I had was trying to discern which element (heat or mosquitoes) I would want to avoid more. I assumed it would be mosquitoes. There is nothing more exasperating than itching. So we brought long sleeves and pants to protect us from getting bitten. We also got these mesh sweatshirts type things. Brian treated all of our clothes with Permethrin before we left. He also brought THIS mosquito spray which was a lifesaver.
Turns out the spray was so effective that as long as we used it when we were on our excursions, the mosquitoes would not bite us. Score! After we realized this, we were able to go out in shorts and tanks with no problems. That was a big relief, because it was pretty hot. So if you go, just remember to get a potent high quality mosquito spray and leave the long sleeves at home.
When you fly to Peru, you will be flying into Lima, the capital. This is where all of our extended family lives. After a day in Lima, we flew to Puerto Maldonado, the little town closest to the lodge. The flight from Lima stops for a layover in Cusco, where Machu Picchu is. After the layover in Cusco, we continued on the flight for 15 more minutes. This is why I highly recommend if you ever plan on going to Machu Picchu, you should definitely include the rainforest in your plans. It’s only a 15 minute flight once you get to Cusco! And probably 80% less tourists.
Arriving in Puerto Maldonado, we got off the plane runway-style. It was a small airport. The hostess from Inkaterra’s Hacienda Concepción was waiting for us with a sign along with several other guests arriving with us. From there, we got on a small bus. The bus took us through the small town of Puerto Maldonado until we got to the river. We hopped on the boat for a 20 minute ride that would take us to the lodge. There are no roads leading into the jungle. The river is the only way in and out.
When the boat dropped us off at the property’s dock, all you could see was a path through trees. Our hostess, Rina, said we had a 3 km hike to get to the lodge from there – she must really enjoy seeing the scared look on the guests’ faces when she says that because she quickly follows it up with a “just kidding” and a laugh. Phew!
We stayed at Inkaterra’s Hacienda Concepción Lodge. Inkaterra is an eco-luxury resort chain in Peru with 5 properties. Three are near Machu Picchu, and two are in the Amazon rainforest. The sister property in the Amazon is called Reserva Amazonica. Pierina stayed at that resort 6 years ago and loved it. We stayed in Hacienda Concepción because she wanted to try a different one, plus it was the newest property. We stayed for 3 nights, and I would highly recommend the same if you can too.
Every structure on the property has thatched roofs and has screens instead of windows. This means you have a symphony of birds, monkeys and bugs playing for you at all hours of the day. It’s such a tranquil and meditative experience. The main lodge is where you would eat all of your meals and where we liked to hang out in between excursions. The first floor has the dining area and bar, while the second floor was filled with places to sit and relax.
The food was very very good at Hacienda Concepción. Every day they would serve the meals in the dining room and you had “your” table. Breakfast and lunch were served buffet style, although you could order hot a la carte items, like eggs or pancakes for breakfast as well. Dinners were sit-down, candle-lit and very tasty.
The cabins were rustic but beautiful, spacious and extremely clean. The four of us were very comfortable in one. They have a sitting area at one end of the space which was completely open to the jungle, separated only by a screen. One morning there was a capuchin monkey playing in the trees that we could see without stepping out. The beds have mosquito netting, which is pulled down during the turndown service in the evening.
What we did in the rainforest:
Inkaterra truly excels at planning out your stay at their properties. The first day we arrived, we met our personal guide, Mirko.Throughout our stay, he was so friendly and eager to share everything he loved about the rainforest with us. That first night we met Mirko, he talked to us about all of our excursions and answered any questions we had. I could go on and on about the excursions, but will let the pictures do most of the talking. Here’s the quick rundown of what they were:
Twilight river cruise – looked for night creatures on the banks of the rivers. Saw lots of caymans, but our highlight was the pack of wild hogs
National Reserve hike & Lake Sandoval canoe trip – We hiked through the Tambopata National Reserve. As we hiked, our guide would teach us about the different plants and animals we would see. At the end of the hike, we hopped on canoes for a tour of the wildlife of Lake Sandoval. We found giant river otters and all kinds of cool birds.
Walking jungle night tour – This guided walk with our guide took you into the rainforest at night to see the creatures that they could find. I knew this would include frogs, so I passed on this one.
Cachuela clay lick – This was the only excursion we did that was not included in the price of our stay. We left at 4:30am by boat to get to the Cachuela clay lick, were hundreds of parrots gather at dawn to eat the clay. After seeing the birds, we had breakfast on the boat before heading back to the lodge.
Tree Canopy Walk – The canopy walk was a series of hanging bridges at the top of the trees. The perspective was cool!
Visit to a local farm – Our guide brought us to a nearby farm where they grow all kinds of produce. We walked through the fields while grabbing fresh pineapple, sugar cane, cacao, and bananas to eat along the way.
Botanical garden – We toured the onsite botanical garden with our guide. He showed us all the different plants and shared their traditional medicinal properties. The boys’ favorite part was learning about the Brazil nuts and cracking them open.
Fishing for piranha – One thing Brian and the boys were super excited to try was fishing for Piranha. They did catch a few, which the kitchen friend up for their dinner that night 🙂
Our visit to the Peruvian rainforest was so much fun. We really had very little expectations coming into it, and all of us came out extremely satisfied with with our experience.
A big part of the positive experience had to do with Inkaterra and how awesome their lodge was. Kudos to them for making us feel extremely comfortable in what could have been an uncomfortable environment. If you are ever considering visiting Peru, I highly recommend setting aside a few days to visit this amazing place.