Puerto Maldonado is a large city (100,000) and most of it looks pretty grim by Canadian standards. Lots of corrugated metal and brick buildings but plenty of fertile land for growing a large variety of foods. Streets full of scooters and 'moto-cars':
The bus we were on had to be escorted to the river with a police escort as the area is under a state of emergency due to gold panning - I’m assuming illegal panning and clashes between licensed gold panners.
The river is wide and muddy and the journey gave us our first glimpse of a white caiman - from the alligator family - and often found on the river banks.
A whole family of capybara - the world's largest rodent - continued bathing in the mud as we motored by.
We also saw some brown splotches that apparently were monkeys and some black dots that were macaws. I need to get better glasses if I hope to see the wildlife better. Toucans were spotted as well but too far away to appreciate their colours.
The Tambopata Lodge is quite impressive - each hut has 2 suites c/w flush toilets and solar powered showers. There is no electricity so candles illuminate the huts. There is a large dining room and a bar for which Ross was grateful.
Our hut at night:
And the dining area:
We arrived in time for a night walk. We saw a few unusual plants and insects and our guide lured this lovely tarantula out of her (or his) hole.
The next morning we waited for the rain to ease a bit before heading up the river and doing another walk through the jungle. Again some insects, flowers, birds, fruit but the overwhelming feature was the mud. Thankfully rubber boots were provided.
A lot of the path looked like this:
The night before we left it rained a lot - by the time we boarded the boat to head back in the morning, the river had risen 1.5 meters with a lot of debris making it difficult to navigate. As the temperature had dropped a few more degrees we donned most of our warm clothes so that by now Edwin was teasing us about the 'cold'.