Being in Puerto Maldonado was such a surreal experience. Almost like being on an episode of Planet Earth. Dirt roads, dogs roaming free, large lush greenery everywhere you turn. As someone who has spent a majority of their life surrounded by concrete, highways, and skyscrapers it always puts a smile on my face to walk off a bus or plane, take a deep breath, and smell true fresh air. Being there was exactly what I needed to really shake off NYC and welcome in Peru.
We stayed in amazing collection of cabins called Ecoaldea Kapievi (Kapievi Ecovillage) where we were completely surrounded by the jungle. Instead of Cabin in the Woods, it was Cabin in the Jungle. Sleeping under canopies at night you could hear every sound! Every minute chirp, flutter, howl! (They had 2 dogs on the property, but it sounded like a full on pack so I still have no freaking idea what was howling so much!) It was pretty incredible. We specifically stayed in the “Sol” cabin if you’re thinking about making the trip yourself, it was the perfect place to stay. Every morning we were greeted to a wonderful breakfast with a bowl of fresh fruit, coffee, warm fresh bread, and of course fruit juice! Every day was different, sometimes papaya, sometimes camu camu, but each were wonderful and freshly made.
We didn’t even realize until more than halfway through the trip that, other than our first night, we had all actually been on a vegetarian diet for our time there. Going to the food market in those little moto taxis and sticking to the fruits and veggies the jungle provided, meat didn’t even cross our minds. This was really rare for me because I freaking adore meat, but it was really refreshing to take a step back and only eat “of the earth” for a few days.
We got to do something I was really looking forward to while we were in the jungle. We got to visit an amazing animal shelter. Amazon Shelter, which is run by the incredible Magali, is dedicated to rehabilitating and conserving the wildlife of Peru. Located off road and deep within the jungle Magali and her team work tirelessly helping these animals become healthy again, and hopefully with a full recovery, return back to the wild. When we first got to meet Magali she was holding a small howler monkey who looked really banged up. With his arm in a cast Magali explained to us that he had fallen off of his mother while hunters were attempting to catch her for food. If left on the floor of the jungle alone he most certainly wouldn’t survive, but he was here now and recovering. You could see immediately how much she cared about all of the animals in her care and would do everything in her power to make sure they get the care they need. It was truly an incredible experience. We got to see adult Howler Monkeys, Wooly Monkeys, Dusky Monkeys, and the ever so regal Emperor Tamarin.
She also cared for toucans, parrots, an adorable red deer named Valencia, and…ANOTHER SLOTH!!!! (Two sloths in one trip you guys?! This is insanity! ) One of my favorites though was this adorable wild jungle weasel. She had previously been a house pet, but now that she was at the shelter she was being rehabilitated to be released into the wild. This meant that as much as we all wanted to pet her and shake her paw when she reached out to you we couldn’t, *sigh* it was for the best.
Seeing all of these animals and watch Magali and her team building new enclosures, prepping the right food for all the animals diet, and really giving their all for these animals was so inspiring. If you are ever looking to visit, possibly become a volunteer or even just donate to the cause, here is the link: Amazon Shelter . I think it’s super important to recognize people that are doing good in this world, so thank you Magali and Amazon Shelter team for all that you do!
Our last excursion in the jungle was to the beautiful Lake Sandoval. Now here is just a little warning, or shall I say piece of advice for those hoping to also make your way there. For those GOT lovers out there, the night might be dark and full of terrors, but so is the 5 mile hike to Lake Sandoval. Once you are suited up in you knee high wellies and your plastic poncho (because you know what’s a 5 mile hike without downpour?) be really sure you understand what a 5 mile hike in the jungle means. As our group headed out on our adventure we saw groups return caked with mud, completely soaked, and bae and I shared a look of “Oh no, what have we done”. There is no straight path to heaven and there is no straight path to the lake. You will be covered in mud, you will almost slip and fall, you will have to thank the jungle for the trees as they are your only saving grace when you try to stay on the least muddy path/you need a hand out of the mud as your boot makes that gross suction cup sound when you finally get unstuck. It will be a lot, but you will probably do it anyway because I mean come on, when else are you going to “safely” traipse through the jungle? All that being said, Lake Sandoval is a thing of beauty.
By the time we got onto our boat the rain had stopped and the lake was completely silent. once you make your way through the cluster of trees and unto the lake itself it is the most tranquil experience. You see before you just a wall of trees, taller than you could ever imagine, greener than you could ever imagine. Although due to the rain we didn’t see too much wild life. I really wanted to see the Amazonian Giant Otter. They call it Lobo de Rio because they are stealth AF and hunt together in packs. They were on an episode of Planet Earth and I would have died if I actually saw one in real life. I would have truly felt one with David Attenborough. However, we did get to see some of these amazing, (almost?) prehistoric birds, so I was satisfied. Once on the other side of the lake, on top of a cliff side looking out you could really appreciate the beauty of the Amazon and the amazing balance of nature. We also saw the cleanest cat in history which was laughable when you took in the sight of our entire group head to toe with mud and sweat. It was torture to then turn around and do the 5 mile hike again, but it was a once in a life time experience that I’m really happy to have done. If you’re looking for a true adventure the trip to Lake Sandoval is where it’s at!
If you want to see more pics of my jungle adventure click here!
Thanks again for reading!