I survived! After traveling to Iquitos, staying overnight in the jungle, holding wild animals, and handling a few days of being pretty sick, I am finally able to write you a blog post about my trip!
Besides Machu Picchu, the jungle was something I was most excited about when coming to Peru. It proved to be spectacular and a trip I certainly will never forget. I got to go to Iquitos with some of my best friends in Peru! It was kind of a way for us to relax now that finals were over. It was our last shebang before we’d all be going our separate ways.
We started out our trip with a tour of Belen. Belen (meaning Bethlehem) is a district of Iquitos and is known for its huge market that sells nearly everything from local fruits, to meat, to clothes and crafts. First, we walked through a very small portion of the Mercado de Belen. There, we were first introduced to chonta (palm heart), paiche (biggest freshwater fish), piranha, and medicinal extracts that came from the jungle.
Next, we took a boat tower throughout Belen and the floating village. The town needs to be floating or on stilts because the Amazon River can rise over 30ft. So, some houses are made on the river and are kind of like stationary rafts. This way when the water rises or falls, the houses just move with the river.
Of course there is a ton of poverty in the area, but people there seem to be okay about it and you can see kids splashing around in the river and boats bringing in tons of bananas to be sold. The floating houses and surrounding houses have electricity and it’s just crazy to think that this is ‘normal’ for them. The idea of living on a river seems insane, but also really fun…for a while anyway.
We then made our way to the zoos and reservations. We first stopped at a manatee rehabilitation center where we were able to feed and pet the manatees. All of the manatees there had been injured in some way and now thebiologists are working to reintroduce them into the wild when they are ready. They still have a long way to go. After the Manatee site, we went to a zoo called Quistococha which is also a lagoon and botanical garden. The place is huge and hosts many different animals including: snakes, electric eels, the pink dolphin, parrots, alligators, monkeys, pumas and jaguars! With all of that, the zoo is also a beach. It’s a lagoon so many people where there enjoying the sun and swimming in the lagoon to cool off (it was really incredibly hot there). After sharing some cervezas with our tour guides, and grabbing lunch (I had paiche, which was awesome!) we headed back to the hostel.
We started our morning on a boat from Bellavista to the Amazon River. On the way to the jungle lodge we stopped at different sites to see and hold animals. Mainly we saw parrots, a sloth, a monkey, a prehistoric turtle and a toucan.
Oh, and did I mention we held an anaconda? We estimate this one to be about 7-8 feet long. Get a look at that!
To end our stay in the jungle, we went piranha fishing! It was pretty fun and Melissa (my roommate) actually caught a piranha! Ahahah, it was funny because nobody knew how to get it off the hook. Good thing our tour guide just did it instead. I caught 2 smaller fish, not quite sure what they were but they had 3 spikes around its body, and looked like a baby shark!