Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica, Tambopata National Park Peru, Readers ReviewJanuary 11, 2012
Having decided I wasn’t ready to deal with all the bugs the Peruvian Amazon Rainforest had to offer, I booked my 4 day 3 night stay tour with the more expensive Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica, where I was reassured by my Peru travel agent I’d have a fantastic experience.
Upon arrival at Puerto Maldonado Airport (after a flight from Lima, via Cusco) I was met by my guide from Inkaterra. After a short bus ride with other travellers in the Inkaterra bus, we arrived at the butterfly farm. I didn’t understand the relevance of its name until my return, when I had some time to explore the butterfly enclosure behind the reception area. We were given a complimentary cold drink whilst we filled out some paperwork, and after storing our luggage that we didn’t want to take with us in their secure lockup, we took another bus through the bustling town of Puerto Maldonado to the port.
Our guide entertained us with facts about the town, the Madre de Dios River and the reserve whilst waiting for our boat to arrive to take us the hour trip down the river to the reserve. Luckily, the reserve is not within a malaria area at the time of writing, but other mosquitos are rife, and it’s wise to take lots of bug spray, especially when on the river. Upon arrival at the reserve, the staff all came to the riverbank to welcome us. It was a nice touch.
We were directed to the dining area for our orientation talk, and we were put into groups and allocated a guide. As I was travelling alone, I was joined up with an American couple in a very small group. We were then given time to chill out in our cabinas before our first guided experience that afternoon.
The cabinas are elegant, simple, and cleverly designed so you do not overlook other cabinas. Made from polished wood and with thatched roofs, the cabinas stand on stilts. The front third is enclosed by fine mesh and therefore open to the elements. This made it very atmospheric, and a great space to relax in the hammocks or lounge chairs. The back two thirds are enclosed by walls and is the bedroom with a 4-poster bed (from which hangs a mosquito net). The shower is off to one side and the toilet to the other.
As the whole site is a research centre and aims to be environmentally friendly, the electricity is only on at certain times of the day. Luckily they provide a flashlight. Oil lamps are lit for you, one on your porch and the other in your lounge area. Oil lamps are also lit along the paths joining the cabinas to the restaurant, so you can find your way around in the evenings.
Anyway, back to our guided experiences! The whole group needs to agree on which experiences to take, so we opted to take a tour of the local jungle. I expected to see animals galore, but as pointed out to me, the jungle is very large, and most of the animals hangout in the protected areas where people are prohibited.
Our guide was very knowledgeable about the flora and insect life which was second to none, and so fascinating. That evening we took a dusk boat trip to see caiman which was a little disappointing as the most we saw was the reflection of the eyes of a baby caiman.
The trip to the Jungle farm was also interesting, so see how chocolate grows, and all those other fruit and veg you buy at the supermarket, and never considered if it grew on a tree or plant!
The experience to see the giant otters was phenomenal. After an hours hike through the rainforest where we spotted a pair of macaw, bats, caterpillars and various other insects, we arrived at the lake and jumped in the canoe. Our two guides paddled us around the stunningly beautiful lake pointing out a variety of birds including three types of heron, bats, caiman, and we even got out the boat to chase after some howler monkeys we could hear! Eventually the giant otters came out to play and whilst we weren’t allowed to get too close the experience was unforgettable. We were extremely lucky to see the otters as not every boat on the lake that day saw them.
We also went fishing for piranha, which was fun (a little stick and fishing wire) and I’m pleased to say the fish were smart enough eat the bait without being caught!
ENTERTAINMENT TIP: If looking for fun at night, or to watch sports during the day, or even a taste of home, visit the Wild Rover Hostels Chain for great food, sports and beer! Entrance to their bars is free even for non-guests
Our final experience was to see a native family. I am in two minds as to whether I enjoyed this experience. I am happy that tourism benefits families like these in extreme poverty and it was nice to meet the family, play games with them but it felt like an intrusion into their life and that they were just going through the motions with us. The American couple I was with also felt slightly uncomfortable with this experience, but I guess we need to remember that it is a real family and not a Disney ride.
The food at the Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica was spectacular, the menu was varied and nothing was too much trouble for the chef and waiters. Whilst I was happy to eat alone, the waiters made a point of chatting to me, so I was never alone for long!
One evening I decided to have a spa treatment, and after deliberating over the array of treatments on offer, I opted for a cold stone treatment, (the stones had been cooled in the Madre de Dios River). I showered before my treatment and waited to be collected and taken to the treatment room. The room was right on the riverbank. And unexpectedly the room was open to the river, with only mesh to make up the wall. It was amazing to see the sunset over the river, whilst having the treatment, but what I didn’t account for was being bitten to shreds whilst half naked! Ouch!
If I hadn’t have enjoyed all of the above enough, the friendly macaw who flew around between the cabinas each morning shouting “hola” to wake us up or the brazil nuts (meant for the visitors) which were fed to the local rodent, or the butterflies which massed on the salty riverbanks in their various distinctive bright colours have definitely made this trip to the Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica memorable for life.
Written by: Karen | Bristol – United Kingdon
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