Deepest, darkest Peru

Heading up the Amazon from Iquitos in a speedboat is one hell of a thrill. Even though it´s firmly on the gringo trail nowadays, Iquitos still has the feel of a wild west frontier town about it and, well… it´s the Amazon. And boy is it mighty. Over 3500km from the sea still, in places it´s well over a kilometre wide and reaches 20m deep in some channels. That´s a lot of water. I booted up the GPS to see how fast we were going and saw that home was 9081km away to the north east. At 50kph in the speedboat we could have made it in 7 days.

Arriving at Muyuna Lodge 140km away on one of its tributaries, the Rio Yamayura, was also a thrill due to it being a decent slice of luxury for a group of increasingly raggedy arsed overlanders. Welcomed with cold towels and fresh juice, with a cooked meal and a cold beer round every corner, the rooms are open but enclosed with netting so you can lie in bed speculating about exactly what just met it´s grisly end in the jungle outside your room. And, while you´re at it, what the hell is that flapping sound too…

Half the time, most of the carnage was, in fact, being caused by the Lodge´s cat a close encounter with which has probably knocked more years of the lifespan of the region´s tourists than the surrounding 1000 square kilometers of wildlife combined. I managed to commute my girly scream at finding something large and furry on my feet into a ´Christ on a bike´ just in time but it was a close run thing.

Sadly, for me anyway, the jungle itself was not quite as much of a thrill. Trekking through it was like walking through dense English woodland with a steambath in attendance and some mad scientist’s Giganto Ray turned on the wildlife. There was not much wildlife about either, probably all having been scared off by Tiddles the homicidal jungle cat. Still, we saw some pygmy marmosets and numerous other monkies, others saw some three-toed sloths and caymen, but biodiversity of an interesting nature was a bit lacking to be honest.

So, I sat about half the trips out, preferring to chill and ruminate in a hammock with a cold beer or two while trying to avoid activities that made me sweat like blinking too often. All that said though, I have now seen pink dolphins (shiny), swum in the Amazon (freaky), fished for pirhana (bitey) and eaten the things too (fishy) so it´s been worthwhile. Even so, bring on the mountains…

(Coda – the pressure release from being back out of the jungle led to one of those Great Lost Nights out in Iquitos which is now a succession of somewhat blurred images including a bunch of us encouraging tuk-tuk racing, drinking a bar dry of rum, throwing shapes in the church of dance, rescuing one of our number from a stick situation, and all in all ending up a sweaty, sticky, sleep deprived mess. Needless to say, my body is now a temple… ruined and of archeological interest only.)

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