8 November, 2023
Arrived in Lima after 24 hours of travelling with 4 friends, 4 very large rucksacks and the address of a restaurant that serves the best Pisco Sours.
We started our Peruvian Adventure in Lima by visiting the Paddington Bear statue.
Paddington Bear and Peru have a long (fictional) history together. Everyone knows that Paddington lived in deepest darkest Peru, ate marmalade sandwiches and loved his Aunt Lucy.
The statue is a tribute to the character and his connection to the city. Paddington is situated in the Miraflores, in Parque Salazar, a popular park near the coastline of the Pacific Ocean where fans visit from all over the world. The statue was unveiled in Lima on February 28, 2011 with VIP guests and Michael Bond, the author of Paddington Bear. After a Paddington selfie and a hot empanada, it was time to travel South.
Next stop: From Lima, we flew to the city of Puerto Maldona (South East Peru) and the gateway into the Amazon. Puerto Maldona is located at the confluence of the Tambopata and Madre de Dios rivers. The latter river joins the Madeira River as a tributary of the Amazon. Puerto Maldona is only 34 miles from the Bolivian Border.
Focus of Visit: Staying in the Rainforest, visiting Tambopata National Reserve and Lake Sandoval
When: June 2023 – Dry Season
Weather: Very hot and very humid: 35 degrees and 83% humidity (It is impossible to dry your clothes because of the humidity!)
Accommodation: Tronco Tambopata Adventure: think Eco lodge under the cover of the forest. It was quiet, simple and a perfect location to be based. Every morning you were woken by the rainforest chorus and greeted by a parrot called Pepe on the way to breakfast.
Mode of Transport: We were picked up from the airport by Tuk-Tuk. One Tuk-Tuk carried 6 people, we were amazed that it even moved! For most of the journey to our lodge we were the only people on the roads. Very few tourists, very few cars, lots of pot holes, lots of mud and surrounded by the smell of warm damp rainforest. After that we travelled everywhere by motorized long boats – the river is the highway for travel and transporting goods.
Why Visit: The Sandoval Lake and Tambopata National Reserve ranks among one of the top ten biodiversity areas due to its greatest abundance of wildlife on the planet. The Tambopata National Reserve has 2748 square kilometres of virgin Amazon Forest. This is a protected area and the refuge of more than 74 types of reptiles, 1,300 species of butterflies, 592 birds, 127 amphibians, 103 mammals, 1200 plant types and 179 fish.
We spotted giant otters, black alligators, porcupine, cranes, parrots, macaws, turtles, cranes, monkeys and coloured frogs. We saw an immaculately clean ant highway that ran for miles, watched noisy leaf cutter ants in action, found a tarantula sitting in the entrance to it's den, spied beautiful orchids and learnt about loads of medicinal plants.
Lake Sandoval is a 3km long wildlife haven, and is located inside the reserve, it was a highlight of the trip.
We arrived ready for the sunset at 6am. It was already very hot paddling through the dense forest, it was intense and steamy as our canoe made its way towards a shining gap in the trees. We paddled through the gap onto a vast lake, it was totally silent apart from the flapping of 1000’s of butterfly wings and the hum of insects. It was something you can only imagine you would see in a Disney movie.
We sat in the shade, ate our picnic breakfast watched the activity on the lake. We spotted turtles, Caymen, flocks of parrots and macaws overhead and butterflies landing everywhere. As breakfast spots go – that will be hard to beat!
Over the next few days, we spotted a sloth high up in the trees and saw a whole family of capybara (think aunties, uncles, cousins) out on a foraging expedition.
Random Animal Fact – perfect for pub quiz
Did you know sloths travel down their tree and only poop every five to seven days on average, and actually lose up to one-third of their body weight in a single movement!
Next Stop: Parrots and Macaw clay licks
The National Reserve of Tambopata is the home to the highest concentration of parrots and macaws in the world. The birds gather daily for feedings over naturally forming walls of clay found on the river’s banks. They feed on clay to counteract the toxins from the fruits they previously ingested. It is a colourful noisy spectacle; it is like watching a carnival for birds.
The local community mentioned many times how they can see climate changes around them and how it affects the local eco system. One of the biggest and most obvious is the change in the behaviour of parrots, where they nest, when the breed and when they visit the clay licks.
Climate change and local deforestation due to illegal mining, is threatening the biodiversity and the resilience of local natural ecosystems. They see and feel climate change on an almost daily basis.
What Were the Highlights of My Amazon Trip:
Breakfast at sunrise with 1000’s of butterflies on Lake Sandoval
Seeing cocoa beans growing and learning about how they are made into chocolate – it’s a long slow process!
Stargazing over the rainforest at the Milky Way, with no light pollution, it is like viewing the sky in 3D and peering into the future, guided by millions of stars sparkling in the night sky.
Jumping off the canoes and swimming in the river, the mud comes up to your knees and was super slimy!
You can’t beat a cold shower after a long hot day, the water was brown (that’s normal) no electricity (that’s normal, so used a head torch) and watched by a massive spider (that’s normal but creepy)
Beautiful sunsets happen very quickly, day time to night time happens in just a few minutes. As soon as darkness falls, out come the bugs. I covered myself head to toes in clothes, otherwise you are totally bombed by insects, it’s a little scary and a lot sweaty!
Going to bed to the sound of the rainforest, it is so noisy but you fall asleep because you are exhausted.
I never did get to see the pink river dolphins but I did get up close with a pink toed tarantula.
I have dreamt of visiting the Amazon since I was 18 and it has only taken me 30 years to get there, it was worth the wait and I loved every minute.
Next year I will be back to find the pink river dolphins.
Thank you to my travelling companions, Tracy, Dylan and Roan for being part of my Peruvian Adventure, for introducing me to empanadas, ceviche and maintaining a sense of humour on our crazy taxi drives and dinner at the restaurant that disappeared!
My very first adventure was on a Tall Ship called The Sir Winston Churchill when I had just turned 18.
I have loved adventures ever since. Although I still get seasick 30 years on!
I would describe myself as an everyday adventurer. I try and squeeze adventure into my every day from walks, swims and runs to film, podcasts and books. I am always on the look out for communities to connect with and adventures to be found.
I have just hit 50 and my adventure journey has changed so many times over the years, from a 20-year-old canoeing and sailing instructor, to a Mum with young children teaching them to embrace the outdoors through camping, building dens and cooking on open fires, to a mum of young teens when we surfed, coast steered, climbed Ben Nevis and swam in the North Sea!
My boys are in their late teens now and are slowly flying the nest, it is here I find myself now, ready to embrace the next stage of my adventure journey.
Embracing my new found freedom and loving being outside, I am ready to do some exploring!
My adventure journey has included Moonwalks, marathon walks along Hadrians Wall and the South Coast, firewalks, abseiling down castles, coast steering, a cross country ski marathon in the Arctic Circle, a wing walk and training in an Environmental Cold Chamber at the University of Sussex at minus 20!
I have just come back from running a 1/2 marathon in Greenland - the biggest and most extreme event I have ever taken part in. This Arctic adventure has definitely left me with a fire in soul for more adventures.
This year I am off trekking in Peru, visiting the Amazon Rainforest, hiking around the Isle of Wight and organising a mega sea swim for over 500 "mermaids" to celebrate International Women's Day.
When I am not on an adventure I am working with my beautiful VW Camper Van called Daisy on photo shoots - if you want you or your business to stand out from the crowd then its time to book a branding shoot with Daisy.
Photo Shoot Dates: Private shoots also available on request
Check out The Big Mermaid Dip for International Women's Day in Brighton - March 11th - Watch out for March 2024 Dates
Nicky Chisholm aka #PinkNicky
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