On the morning of our departure to the Muyuna Jungle Lodge, the administrative assistant from the Iquitos office came to our hotel at 9:30 and escorted us to the boat jetty just outside of the town center. Michele and i rode on one mototaxi with our luggage and the Muyuna employee and a 30-something man from England rode on another.
When we arrived at the jetty we were wisked down to the boat, we met Steve (the English fellow we would spend the next five days with) and we boarded the boat. Within 2 minutes of our mototaxis stopping, the boat was off down the Amazon river on its way to the Muyuna Lodge. We were really impressed by how smoothly this all worked because we were picked up exactly when we were supposed to be and were heading off in the boat just 15 minutes later.
The three hour ride began to get boring after the first hour or so but it was interesting how big (wide) the Amazon river is. Otherwise, the boat was fast and its engine was very loud. I tried to listen to my MP3 player and when i took it off about 45 mintues later, my ears were really ringing from the volume i had to set it to in order to hear over the engine.
Just before 12:00 noon we made the left turn onto the Yanacau River (a tributary of the Amazon) and in another 15 minutes we pulled up to the dock at the Lodge. Some lodge employees grabbed our luggage for us and we were escorted into the dining room. We immediately met our guide who filled us in on how the meals work (breakfast is normally at 8, lunch normally at 12:30…). He also told us that we would be making an afternoon excursion that afternoon at 3:00 and another that evening after dinner. He went on to explain that we would generally have 4 daily excursions — one before breakfast, one after breakfast, one in the afternoon and one after dinner. Wow! we were going to be busy! And, we were psyched we would be going on our first excursion just 2 hours after arriving at the lodge! no messin’ around!
After having a nice lunch of fried catfish, vegetables, rice, filtered water and fruit, we were shown to our room. The rooms, or bungalows, at the lodge are elevated on stilts about 2 meters above the ground. Each have private bath with cold water shower and are completely screened from the outside (there are no glass windows, no A.C. and no electricity). Each bungalow also has a balcony with hammock. Within ten minutes of arriving in our bungalow, we had already spotted a couple of lizards foraging around on the ground underneath the bungalows. One of these was a large (1.5ft) Golden Tegu and the other was a smaller (8in.)lizard with a brown head and green body and tail. This was shaping up to be an excellent experience!
and the greenback lizard:
At about 3:15 we met our guide, Moises, back at the dining room. We were all wearing longsleeves, long pants and rubber ‘jungle boots’. Michele and i had also applied some half-ass (only 20% DEET) bug repellent. We had also been instructed to bring water and our rain jackets since it could rain at any time in the rain forest.
I have to admit i was a bit put off by our guide at first. He was a little bit older (maybe mid 40′s to 50) and had lots of experience — which was great. But, he seemed very insistant on just how experienced he was. He kept telling us over and over to not worry when we’re with him because he has so much experience, etc. He also wasn’t very “warm”. Not very friendly. oh well, we’d see how it went.
It was soon apparent to us how vicious the mosquitos around here could be. Within minutes of entering the jungle just behind the lodge, they were swarming around us. That afternoon we saw most of the wildlife within the first 30 minutes of our walk. Actually, within 10 minutes of leaving the lodge, our guide had already been bitten by a Yellow Whipped Snake he tried to catch alongside of the trail. We ended up walking around for about 2.5 hours. Some of this was on trails and the rest was REAL bushwacking. It seemed to us our guide liked chopping at vegetation with his machete just for fun.
Dinner was around 7:30 and nearly immediately afterwards, Michele, Steve and i and our guide and boatman were off into the darkness on a boat on the Yanacau river hunting Caiman. The guides shine high-powered flashlights around the edge of the river looking for red eyes. Our guide wasn’t successful on his first attempt at catching a caiman but was on the second. After catching it, he placed it on one of the seats of the canoe so we could take photos. Well, apparently the Caiman wasn’t very happy with its seat because 30 seconds later it jumped off to the bottom of the boat. I didn’t need much encouragement from the guide to pick the little guy up. The guide promised he wouldn’t bite. When the Caiman opened his mouth and threatened to do just that, Moises (our guide) revised his statement with ‘Well, he will try to bite but he won’t succeed.’ OK! So here’s a picture of our little friend in my hand…
A few minutes after we released the frightened Caiman back into the river, our guide spotted a small (3ft.) amazon tree boa. This became our next catch…
After the boa, we also saw a few fisher bats and a couple of three-toed sloths way up high in the treetops. We returned to the lodge around 9:30 and were asleep within 45 minutes…