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Sunday, December 22, 2013

A Tarapoto Jungle Adventure Pt. 2

Alright everyone!  Here it is, part 2 of our jungle adventure.  In case you missed it, check out Part 1 here.  Enjoy and I hope everyone is having a fantastic time preparing for the holidays!

On the third day of our trip in the jungle, we were up bright and early for our hike to Pucayaquillo waterfall.  We met at the lodge with our guide for the day, Rodile.  He was one of the most interesting characters I think I have ever met.  An actual real life Tarzan!  We drove about 15 minutes and were dropped off on the side of the road just kind of randomly.  When we were about 50 feet off the road, it seemed as thought we were 500 miles from anything.  We were engulfed in real, thick, wild jungle.  There was also no one else around.  Right away, Rodile (whom by this point had referenced Tarzan, so I was just calling him that) started making monkey, bird and bug noises, and talking to himself.  Did I mention he was carrying a very large machete?  He said it was in case we "saw a snake."  I was doubting that we would ever return to civilization alive again.  

The first thing we saw was real life Coca.  I have talked about this before, but it is the plant that cocaine is made from.  In the jungle it is used basically the same as the Andes, not as a drug, but the production of it for cocaine use is huge in the jungle.  

We saw dozens of termite nests on our hike, Tarzan actually went and chopped one open so we could see inside, and offered us one to eat.  We declined.  If it isn't dipped in chocolate, I don't eat bugs.  

this picture pretty much tells you everything you need to know about our guide.  Also, like a lot of Peruvians, he is wearing crocs.  Which is fine, but he nearly wiped out about 6 times, down steep cliffs while we were hiking.  Here he is showing us a wild pineapple bush.

This is the marker showing that we are now in the Cordillera Escalada protected area.  If you cut down a tree here, you go to jail for 8 years.

This Owl butterfly is so amazingly camouflaged.  He looks like a leaf when he is sitting like this.  See down further for a better picture and what he looks like when he is flying.

This huge almost 2 inch long beetle is dead, stuck in a tarantula web.  

Tarzan teaching Josh wow to swing from a vine.  seriously.

Some remnants from a MASSIVE wasp nest that fell down.

This tree produces a sap that has been used for thousands of years as a fire starter.  It burns for hours.

We finally got to the Puayaquillo waterfall.  We were the only ones there and the water was so nice and warm we could have stayed all day.  The water's power is actually taken away a bit by the rocks that it runs down so you could sit in the falling water and have a conversation.

 Walking trees like in Kauai.  Over years they can move several feet closer to a water source.

There was a tree covered in these flowers but it was so high up you could barely see them.  The groundwas littered with them and I thought they were beautiful.

Don't be fooled, this is just a regular old grasshopper, just pretty colors.  He hopped on to my bag and for anyone who knows me, it made me scream.

This doesn't look like it, but it is actually a type of chameleon.  you will see another one changing colors later on in this post.

The Owl butterfly again!  The second photo is what his back looks like when he flies.  gorgeous!

A Praying Mantis! I thought this was pretty cool!

A black salamander.

This is a Cicada.  He is actually about two inches long!  They were so loud at night in the jungle we could barely sleep!

We finished the hike back (It seemed a lot easier after cooling off in the waterfall for an hour) and headed back to the lodge for another delicious lunch (my tortilla de plantain are on the right side) and some relaxing before our afternoon boat ride.

While we were relaxing by the pool we noticed that Tarzan and some other Amazon boys were looking into the hand dug ponds on the hill above the pools.  We assumed these likely had some sort of fish in them, but because of the staffs lack of trying to understand our Spanish, we never bothered to ask.  So 
 when Tarzan took a flying leap into said pool, we went up to see what was going on.  Turns out, one of the maintenance boys (one of the ones that woke us up looking in our window while we slept that morning) spoke a tiny bit of English, so he told us that it was Tilapia, and they jump in and go fishing every day.  With their bare hands.  The fish is them used for dinner in the lodge restaurant.  Pretty cool and very fresh!

These Ginger plants have always been one of my favorites and grow like weeds at the resort.

Josh enjoying a beer in his favorite holiday shirt. haha

At about 2:00, Tarzan, jungle man, came to get us again, this time for a boat ride down the Rio Huallaga.  We were told this would be about a two hour tour, turns out it was about 45 minutes but oh well.  The river is so brown, because the dirt in the area is actually a very bright browny red color.  It is also the rainy season in the Amazon so the river is swelled and has a crazy current.  Our boat driver actually just learned to speak Spanish.  Until a few years ago, he only spoke Kechwan, the native language of most of Peru.  We found out near the end, that his friend that was with him speaks a bit of English and studies in Lima.  But he didn't bother to tell us until about two minutes before we were done.

We felt so sorry for these cows!   They were skin and bones, had to drink the brown water and we weren't sure what they had to eat!

Local Natives out with their canoes, fishing.

On Saturday, we woke up to thick clouds and very threatening rain.  We were supposed to head to a place about 60 km away called Sauce Lake or as the locals call it Laguna Azul (Blue Lagoon). So we were worried the weather would be bad.  Our first driver assured us that the weather would clear in about an hour and it would be fine.  The day started off less than ideal, and we were both in bad moods as it were.  We were told we would leave around 8am to start our journey, and when we got to the restaurant for breakfast at 7:10 (supposed to start at 7) they hadn't even started putting things out yet.  Of course, even though they knew we had an excursion, no one bothered to rush or tell us how long it would be, so I went back to the room.  Luckily we had asked if we were going straight from Sauce Lake back to the Tucan in Tarapoto, because no one bothered to tell us!  SO I packed up, had a quick shower and headed back to breakfast.  It was just about ready by this time and we had about 5 minutes until we were supposed to leave.  Of course, it didn't matter, we ended up leaving closer to 9 anyway.  By the time we were starting on our trip, it was POURING.  We had to wait for another van to get meet us at a corner, and when they finally got there, after waiting another 15 mins it was filled with eight teenaged girls.  I knew we were in for it!  
The girls of course were singing and laughing and shrieking and speaking how Peruvians speak.  SO LOUD! I was at my wits end before we even got to the good part.  Sauce Lake was actually miles off the main road, up a dirt path that was windy, steep and pure mud.  Our driver Paul, had said he had done this a million times, but as we speeding up the road, slipping around, ass end going over 400 ft cliffs, passing people on the road big enough for one vehicle, screaming, singing oblivious teenaged girls, I was certain we were going to die.  And I could see Josh was sure too.  After what seemed like an eternity, we reached our ferry to cross Huallaga River.  Since it was so muddy, we had to get out and walk down the road onto the ferry, half the girls fell and we were all covered in red mud.

We walked up the hill on the other side and got back in the van.  The girls took forever buying drinks and snacks at some vendors by the ferry and I was quickly losing patience.  After a few more miles of scary death road, we got to the town Sauce.  The roads in this town were worse than the mountain roads and we went down them totally sideways.  FINALLY after what was an eternity, we got to Laguna Azul.  We were at a small private local resort that I am sure was nice, but it was still pouring.  By this time Josh and I both wanted to say screw it and catch a cab back to the lodge.  But we got in our boat and hoped for the best.  Our first point of Interest was what looked like a diving board about 40 feet up off the side of a cliff.  Three of the girls volunteered to jump off a smaller one, about the height of a regular high diving board at a pool.  Only one of them actually jumped and in true teenaged style, the rest stood at the top argueing about who would go next.  None ever did.  Had it been sunny I would have been the first up there, but it was cold and I was SO grumpy.

We continued in the boat, for a while, watching for wildlife, and seeing some amazing resorts and private homes of very rich people.

We came across this really freaky bird.  They called it the Shanshue, but I can't find that name for it, or its correct name anywhere.  

By this time, it seemed the rain was starting to let up, and our spirits were getting better.  We stopped at a little village on the banks, set up with vendors and a guy with a possum kind of thing (very cute) and this guy with the snake.

They also had these little stands selling all sorts of tropical liqueurs.  They were delicious so we got five bottles.

We got back in the boat, and after a few minutes, we were back at our little resort where we started.  And guess what?  It stopped raining and the sun was out.  We had ordered what we wanted for lunch before we left.  I didn't want anything because I was already sick.  I still didn't feel like eating but picked a little off Josh's plate.   The restaurant was cute, and the owners were super nice.  While Josh was eating I wandered and took a few pics.

This puppy joined us for lunch, he was so cute, and you could tell he hadn't been treated too nicely.

After lunch, we headed to the water for a swim.  The water was like a bath.  I guess they weren't kidding when they called it sauce Lake.  We played around on the beach, took some photos of the painfully skinny horses and relaxed in the hammocks.  Some of the shore was totally convered in these teeny tiny snail shells.

This is the chameleon I was talking about earlier.  Notice he goes from brown to green to blue?  Pretty cool.

After our afternoon was complete, we got back in the van and headed across the mountain road again.  you can get an idea what the road were like, but this was after3 hours of drying time.

On the mountain road, we were able to see just how beautiful the blue lagoon is from above.  Gorgeous.  We also got some pictures, taken by a security guard with a large gun, who then insisted everyone in the van pay them for keeping us safe.  Shake down!

We stopped for a drink at while waiting for the ferry and were on our way back to Tarapoto!  I tried this beer made in the jungle.  It was actually pretty good.

We got back, and got settled in and enjoyed the pool at Tucan for a bit before heading out of the hotel for dinner to the Cafe Du Monde.  One of the most beautiful restaurants I have ever eaten in and the pizza was delicious.  It is a castle and amazing inside.  Unfortunately it was dark, but I did my best for pictures.  We also had our first ride in a mototaxi.  a motorbike rigged up as a cab, with a seat for 2 on the back.  This was pretty much all Tarapoto has for vehicles.  It was fun!

The next day, there was an earthquake at about 7am.  Strong enough to knock out the power until noon and it was crappy weather so we were pretty bored.  The sun came out jsut as we were getting ready to head to the airport.


All in all, it was a nice trip.  The jungle was gorgeous and it was amazing to say we were there.  Despite our complaints we enjoyed it and it was nice to get away and relax!


  1. Oh man I don't even know what to comment on first! Josh swinging on vines like Tarzan.. PRICELESS!!! Everything is so beautiful but I don't know if I could handle all the bugs (LARGE BUGS), sad cows.. you know how I feel about cows! Plus Im not sure I would have eaten anything! I totally however would have asked to partake in the tilapia diving.. HAHA! Its amazing that you got to see the way that they live every single day and just how different it is from our life and the way we do things in a city! Such an amazing experience, I am super jealous of that! Oh.. hows the parasite! ;)

  2. This post is like watching a Discovery Channel special lol! I think my fave thing has got to be the leopard beer! Definitely couldn't handle the large bugs either!