To kick off my first adventure of the Amazon I was greeted upon arrival by airport ground staff in the baggage claim area and escourted directly to my guide for the tour. Unbeknown to me at the time but, I was about to embark on a private tour with my own guide Santos, for the next 3 days. That’s the neat thing about this tour operator, Paseos Amazonicas, they will go ahead with the tour regardless of how small the group size is.
Once we left the airport my guide gave me lots of interesting facts and information about Iquitos as we dodged the swarming numbers of motorbikes, scooters and motor taxis flying towards us. The locals refer to these commuters as mosquitos, because that’s how they seem buzzing around the streets of Iquitos. On the way we made a quick stop at the tour operator’s head office where I had to give them a copy of my return flight itinerary. They hold onto this while you’re on tour so I recommend making an extra copy for you to keep. This is done to ensure the operator gets up to date information for your departure, and they’ll even confirm your flight booking and seat when possible.
My travelers tip is to buy a lot of bottled water and bring it with you, the lodge has a minimal supply, they operate on tank water so everything’s precious. Don’t skimp on the water, you can buy some in the mainland of Iquitos if you don’t want to bring it on the plane. In fact top up on all your dietary needs. When we pulled up at the Amazonas Sinchicuy Lodge the scenery was amazing, so tranquil and surreal I couldn’t believe I was really in the jungle. I was offered a complimentary juice made from a local fruit and shown to my cabin to settle in before starting the tour. It’s a good idea to fly in early so you can rest or take a walk around the beautiful lodge before starting the activities. Because of the heat the ceiling is very high and covered with mesh to keep the mosquitos out. My cabin had two double beds, a private bathroom and some basic furnishings to put away my belongings. It had a real rustic feel to it, very befitting. The shower is cold but, you won’t need hot water in this climate.
When I got back to my cabin I needed a quick nap, the heat and travel made me feel a bit exhausted so, I had a rest on a hammock. The lodge also has a nice bar inside if you prefer a quiet drink and comfort of the couches instead. At 7pm the drums pounded and it was time for dinner. I came dressed in my gumboots, wet weather gear and torch in hand for my evening bush walk tour after dinner. The lodge has gumboots available to loan but, I prefer to have my own footwear. I recommend taking the advice on the packing list provided prior to the trip. My guide showed me how to spot different species of frogs, and insects. I saw native trees and heard the sound of the jungle rat that actually makes a sound like someone’s knocking at the door. It’s an easy walk, and very refreshing before bed. Just before turning in for the night I stopped by the lodge for a cup of tea, I one designed to settle the stomach.
It pays to get a good night’s rest because breakfast is served at 7am and the activities begin at 8am. Outside my cabin was a kerosene lamp, which I kept on all night because the gentle light added to the ambiance. After having a scrumptious breakfast the next morning I packed my backpack for a day of fishing, dolphin sightseeing and a boat tour of the jungle. This day was fantastic and one I hope to repeat someday. My guide and I joined with another group for the first part of the tour; we went to see the pink dolphins in the Amazon River. Their appearance is pink but, their skin is actually translucent. The pink tone comes from the colour from all the minerals in the water. I was apparently very lucky to see dolphins playing that day because they don’t always come out for the visitors.
After having fun with the dolphins we parted ways from the group and my private boat tour began. Now, because I went during the wet season I got to travel through certain parts that aren’t accessible by boat during the dry season. My guide told me you will have a completely different experience in the dry season. Both seasons have their pros and cons so it’s best to do your research and book the season that best suits you. I took lots of photos this day with my two cameras, my guide pointed out sloths, and native birds. I was amazed to find in some of the densest parts of the jungle a few houses on stilts above the water scattered around. We motored past the house of our boat driver too. Another good point to mention about Pasesos Amazonicas is that they employ local people; you can imagine that job prosperity is very low in the Amazon so, these tour operators provide income opportunities. Not, just income though, they’re very environmentally conscious and caring for the local communities. My guide Santos is very experience and in tune with the wildlife environment having grown up in a remote island and served time in these parts in the military. He and his company have a lot of respect for preserving the environment and people’s way of life.
I’d have to say the highlight of my boat tour was going fishing. I got to use a traditional bamboo rod and line and fish for piranhas and catfish and, later we got to eat it for lunch. They were tiny, you’d need to eat a few of them to feel full but, at least I can say I’ve eaten piranha. After a long day out I felt very tired, so I retreated to my cabin as soon as we got back to the lodge. Here’s where my trip took a sudden turn. I’m not sure what happened but, I felt a little off and I had an upset stomach. I didn’t think too much of it so I proceeded to have dinner and take the evening canoe tour. Now this was lovely and it would have been amazing if I wasn’t starting to feel so ill. I couldn’t enjoy the tour as I would have liked. My guide paddled me around to see more wildlife via the canoe, giving me a different experience from the water. The sky was lit with the moon and it truly was beautiful but, I felt unwell. Once we returned to the lodge I drank some hot tea to soothe my stomach and returned to my cabin.
This is the point of my trip that wasn’t so good. My advice is to listen to your travel doctor, when he or she prescribes you with a travel kit filled with essential medicine.
If I was able to do the last day’s activities I would have got to go and visit a wildlife sanctuary where I could see many of the jungle animals and species in a protected environment. I also would have got to visit a traditional jungle tribe called the Jaguar. So, I’m really disappointed about that but, these things happen. Before I was dropped off at the airport I was taken to the head office of Paseos Amazonas, they’d confirmed my flight and I stayed there for an hour before being taken to the airport. They had a computer with wifi on offer but, I opted to relax on the couch as I still wasn’t feeling well.
To sum up my experience with Paseos Amazonicas, it was fantastic. Even though my tour was three days long my guide jam packed it with exciting experiences and the service was incredible. They were professional and friendly and most of all I felt safe in their hands. Everything from my flights to and from Iquitos, ground transportation was all taken care of. I had a wonderful time and believe Paseos Amazonicas gave me full value for money and the experience of a lifetime.