I thoroughly enjoyed our visit to the Peruvian Amazon. It’s a beautiful place, reminding me curiously of Pandora, the alien planet featured in the film Avatar. (I realize that James Cameron was inspired, for that fictional cinematic environment, by the rainforest of Queensland in the northeast of Australia. But the Amazon jungle brings that film very much to my mind.)
It has restored my faith in jungles, too: I may be mistaken or misremembering, but I seem to recall being disappointed by the rainforest along the Usumacinta River in Guatemala. A small group of us went down quite a few years ago, boating many miles into the Guatemalan jungle lowlands known as the Petén, to camp by an archaeological site at Piedras Negras where some members of the Brigham Young University faculty were digging at the time. (Through the old Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, we had provided a small bit of vital help at a crucial time, so we wanted to see what was going on there.) Anyway, I recall finding the Petén jungle fairly unattractive, lacking color, pretty much olive drab. Not at all what I had expected. (My wife tells me that I commented on it when I first returned, so my memory of that reaction seems to be correct.)
Of course, anybody planning to do an Amazon trip like ours needs to be prepared for it: The weather is warm and the humidity is unbelievable – although it often becomes somewhat cooler and, I think, noticeably less humid in the evening. It rains frequently and it steams the rest of the time. It’s a rainforest. So you will get wet, whether from rain or from perspiration. There’s simply no way around it. And to see the villages and canopy walks and ethnobotanical preserves and so forth you need to be prepared to walk.
But would I recommend it to those willing to sweat, to walk, and to be wet? Absolutely. This was my first time to the Amazon. I liked it very much (as did the rest of our group, so far as I can tell) and I hope that others will have the experience. It’s quite unlike any other place that I’ve ever visited.
I specifically endorse our local Amazonian guide Percy, the Explorama company, and the Ceiba Tops Lodge. And, if I may say so, I think that you could do far worse than taking such a tour through the Cruise Lady company. (They are, by the way, the sponsors of our Interpreter Radio Show — and have been for several months now. I hope that their sponsorship will do some good for them; it’s certainly been a benefit to the Interpreter Foundation.)
Written in Lima, Peru, but posted from Cusco