A Window Into Paradise | My Family Travels

I signed up for the Rustic Pathways Amazon Explorer trip, expecting to have a good time, but I never expected I would fall in love.

Fall in love I did – with the trees and the sky, the rivers and the lakes.  The area of Peru we visited, the Inotawa Region, was a tropical wonderland of breathtaking beauty.  Everything I saw, ate, and did amazed me. 

Arrival to the magnificent jungle lodge in which we stayed was no easy task.  It involved a flight from the capital Lima to a small city called Puerto Maldonado on the eastern side of the country.  From there was a bus ride to a branch of the mighty Amazon River.  A two hour boat ride on a small, canoe shaped motor boat took us to our final destination.

â–º  QUARTER FINALIST 2012 TEEN TRAVEL WRITING SCHOLARSHIP

As I walked through the tall forest trees, I was struck by the silence.  No car engines, no plane roars, no sirens, no bells, no nothing.  I had arrived at a world blissfully free of mechanical annoyances.

A wooden structure soon came to view between the surrounding trees.  Open to the nature around, the lodge is accessible not only to teen adventure travel groups, but also to anyone willing to make the trek and survive the stay there. It is an enchanting place.  An entry patio contains comfortable hammocks, followed by simple but wonderful rooms with bathrooms.  There is running water, but only cold.  After the heat of the rainforest, however, the cold is a welcome relief.  The food at this jungle haven was phenomenal.  There were so many new delights, from sweet pancakes to catfish, with everything in-between.  Be sure to try the fruit – exotic produce scarce everywhere else in the world.

Guides are available to lead you on walks through the forest, pointing out interesting local flora and fauna along the way, as well as explaining how the native people benefit from this exotic landscape.

Through the group, I participated in tons of fun and exciting adventures.  There was swimming at a small beach, raft making out of logs that we floated down the river, visits to a spot where all the macaws gather to eat clay off the wall to survive, a soccer game between neighboring regions, and a traditional activity of making beads out of dried berries by drilling holes and making jewelry out of them. 

Two of my favorite parts of the trip were the night walks and an early morning lake outing.  A night guide would take the willing adventurers with flashlights out to explore this mysterious world in darkness.  It is a scary place at night, with strange noises and nocturnal creatures.  It was thrilling.  One morning, we traveled to a lake to glimpse the elusive river otters.  Using binoculars, we saw a mother and her child frolicking on some rocks.  We also fished for pirañas in that water using pieces of raw meat.  Needless to say, we did not swim there!

I will never forget my experience in the jungle.  My time in the rainforest shaped my way of thinking about the world and what I want to do when I am older.  I promised myself the day we left that I would be back.  Even if it took many years, I would find my way back to the jungle I fell in love with.  Everyone should come to the Amazon sometime in their life, to at least catch a glimpse of paradise.

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