|After the Rio Verde we went into the Amazon proper. We stayed in a wooden lodge that was at the top of a cliff overlooking the river and jungle. It was very cool being so high up as you get to appreciate the vastness splayed out before you. We also had a balcony with a hammock which was rather delicious. The first thing I would say about the jungle is that we didn’t see much life. There are undoubtedly copious amounts of life, but unless you go into the real depths, miles from anywhere, most of the wildlife is absent. There were meant to be loads of deadly snakes and when we went for walks (you have a guide) we were given wellington boots to protect against snake bites. I only saw one snake, some sort of tree viper (I’ll put a picture on the blog) that was in the trees and was tiny but according to the guide deadly, much like an inebriated scouser.
Other creatures seen were a tarantula in our lodge who is apparently a bit of an unofficial pet. The guide (who was barely out of his teens and thought he was too cool for school) would get cocky and let it crawl over his body but he was trying on one occasion to entice it to crawl onto his hand and the furry fiend went and bit him which was cool! I was impressed by its speed. It stays completely still on the wall for ages but when it attacked it moved like a bullet, way quicker than the guide. I don’t think it was poisonous, it just stabbed him with its stabby things. The guide tried to shrug it off but he was rubbing his hand for the rest of the night. We also caught a monster cockroach on our ceiling using a wine glass (again, picture attached.) but that was about it on the wildlife front (saw some colourful birds but they always flew off when we got anywhere near them).
The cool thing, however, about the jungle is just walking through it. The size of some of the trees, the subtle colours, the occasional orchid and bright plant and the sheer size and greenery of it all is a very cool and unforgettable experience. On one day we went through a cave system that was full of bats that would sweep into you, I had my head clipped by wings several times. Georgie opted to not go into the small, tight, dark, bat filled creepy cave for some inexplicable reason but the experience was entertaining, at times fairly batty and enough to turn a sane man into a psychotic crime fighting vigilante with a Freudian fear of those winged war mongers that live in the darkness. We got very wet and dirty that day, lots of crawling and wading through mud and also covering our faces with a certain type of mud that is apparently used for beauty treatment. In my case it didn’t seem to do much, other than make me look like an oompa loompa.
We also went tubing down the Amazon on rubber rings, in places going down grade 3 rapids. Did quite a bit of swimming, got totally soaked and the river was surprisingly cold (also the reason, according to the guide, that you don’t get anacondas in this part of the river – boo hiss, the pun intended).
Our favourite day was spent walking up waterfalls and rivers. It took half a day to walk up a small tributary river that went down a steep hill. In places were thirty foot waterfalls and we abseiled up and down them the old fashioned way, just holding onto a rope and walking up it. There were no harnesses, helmets or safety equipment, just some crazy shiola in the jungle and it was even cooler for all these reasons. Again, we got very wet but it felt like the most authentic and enjoyable Indiana Jones style jungle experience we could have asked for. If our cocky guide had just been attacked by a large anaconda and admitted in gasping breaths as he was pulled beneath the muddy water that he was wrong, you do get anacondas here, that would have been perfect.
All in all we enjoyed the jungle. From here we began to climb up, back into the mountains...