3 Days in the Amazon Jungle

The Manú National Park is a part of the Amazon Jungle that is located near Cusco and Madre de Dios river in Peru. “Near” is relatively optimistic because the drive from Cusco to the park was still roughly 7 hours long. But when talking about the scale of the gigantic amazon jungle, it is quite close. 
 
On the first day, we left at 6am and went for several stops along the way. The drive alone was already an adventure because we got to meet a lot of locals and saw what a simple life everyone had. We did a long stop at the town called Paucartambo. All the women wore old traditional clothes and had these colorful towels wrapped around their back to carry goods or babies. Men would also use them to carry stuff around. basically a local traditional backpack. I got to taste the best mandarines and got to explore the town from the ground and also from the sky with my drone. 

Going up hill, we realised the climate changed from being super dry and hot to humid and cold. We were in the cloud forest in an instant. We got off the car and started to walk along the road exploring the mountains and found some amazing unique birds and plants on the way. The altitude varied between 3000 and 5500 meters in height while we were driving, so even though we were just sitting in the van, it felt like work out.

Finally we arrived at our first sleeping place. I was surprised because it was a very clean, concrete building with several rooms in it with running electricity and warm water. It was well equipped with mosquito nets and we got an amazing local dinner and breakfast. I must mention, the jungle is very loud. But I still had a very good sleep that night and was a bit disappointed that we all got so spoiled in the middle of the jungle.

Day 2 was the most adventurous day of all. We got some rubber boots and were told that we would need them in the jungle as we would have to go through water and mud. That made me smile and I was already super excited. We started at 7 morning, but I decided to secretly fly the drone at 5am before every woke up. After I got my epic hazy morning shots of the river and jungle, we left for the entrance of Manu National Park. We entered quite early and got to meet an awesome hermit who decided to leave everything behind and take care of his own garden of endemic plants. He practically lives in his garden, his clothes were all covered in dirt and soil and he seemed to be very happy living his life in his garden. He even showed us a hat he made as a dedication to his best friend who died and who always used to wear hats. After seeing all kinds of endemic plants, bleeding bark trees, vanilla orchids, a prayer ritual and a whole colony of coca leaves, we continued our way to the madre de dios river.

There, we found a sign saying we should be careful of tribes. There are still some tribes in the jungle that have no contact to the outside world. They have different values and don’t think killing is as bad but necessary to stay alive. Animal instincts I guess. So we were told not to photograph them or get in contact with them, as they might think a camera is a weapon. There were already so many cases where tourists or locals got killed by them. This made me even more excited and our guide also told us how he encountered them 4 years ago across the river and that it was super exciting and also scary at the same time.

We got off the van, saw a cute little baby ant eater at the rest house and got on a boat. This was where we saw how dense the jungle was and how much untouched nature is out there. It was mind blowing. we rode the boat for around 30 minutes until we got off at a shore and started waking another 20 minutes through the dense jungle. On our way we tried to find some monkeys, because they were so loud, but unfortunately they didn’t like to be around us and ran away. 

We crossed knee high water strips, hiked up the jungle hills and arrived at our wooden cottages. They were very simple and more of what I imagined to be suited for the jungle. Yet, they had good and clean beds, running water and even mosquito nets around the bed. I was again quite surprised. The weather was hot and humid this time and we were all constantly sweating. There was no way to charge camera gear for the next days and we had to deal with cold morning showers. we all went to bed at 8pm because there was no light and nothing to do and always woke up at 5am. We got to explore the jungle in the afternoon. We saw a caiman, I ate some termites (like what monkeys do), got to try the jungle tomato and some medicinal roots against fever, we went on a raft and saw some Hoatzin stinkbirds birds on the way. Finally it got dark and we did a short night walk up to our hut where we saw all kinds of insects and animals. 

Day 3 was basically just on the road. we drove back to the other side of madre de dios river with the boat, hopped on the van and drove back home. We got to make multiple stops and found ourselves flying the drone over rivers and Paucartambo, meeting new locals and having the time of our lives.