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Monday, July 08, 2013

Cold Showers and Pink Dolphins

Dolphin-red, the pink dolphin - Boto-vermelho,...
Dolphin-red, the pink dolphin - Boto-vermelho, Boto Cor de Rosa (Photo credit: josé hilton)

The world of travel is incredibly diverse and there are a million places to go and a ton of things to do in each and everyone of them. In addition to that, you'll hear hundreds of opinions on where you should go and what people consider "fun". And the really great part is that nobody is actually wrong in what they think is a good place to go and their idea of fun. But the most important thing is to know who YOU are and what fits with your mind, body, soul, likes, and budget. That can get ultra challenging when you are reading glowing reviews about 100 different places and what a great time someone else had.

Then there is what I call "traveler's intuition". It happens once in awhile when I hear or read about a place and something jumps within me and I just know I'm meant to be there and have that experience. On this particular occasion I was reading up on places to go in Peru. I was browsing through a list of popular cities and things to do in each one of them. Then I came to a place called Iquitos, right in the middle of the Peruvian rainforest.  A city filled with amazon river tours and jungle lodges that serve as accomodation.

As I began to delve more into the city and all it's offerings, something jumped within me. I soon found myself in contact with Amazonia Expeditions, a natural history tour operator that does adventure trips in the amazon.  With stuff like this, I wanted to choose an organization as reputable as possible that is dedicated not only to high attention and customer service to travellers but also with a strong commitment to preserving and giving back to the jungle communities and ecosystem.

But as I got in contact with this group it became apparent that they had the highest level of credentials than any other tour operator with a full list of references from people who had gone with them and that I could contact if I wished. After doing my homework as well as conversing with them, I was sold and I wanted to book time at the lodge.

Their lodges are not the kind of thing you can just come and crash at. In fact, Iquitos is only accessible by plane or boat. In addition to having to fly from Lima to Iquitos, you have to be taken by boat to the jungle lodge. The cabins that house people are raised off the jungle floor with stilts and are connected to the other lodges by a boardwalk. The lodges themselves have all the basic creature comforts, running water, showers, food, satellite, phone, email, food, laundry services.  It's the farthest thing from the presidential suite at the Hilton but at the very least guests won't be "roughing it" totally.

*** On a very interesting note I found out that all jungle lodges have only cold showers. Because water heated to 30-33 Celsius will become a breeding ground for mycobacteria. If the heated water is dispersed via shower head, it can cause a tubercular-like pulmonary infection.

My favorite kind of travel is travel that opens up your mind and leaves a mark on you for life. This was the kind of experience that would do just that for me. Not only would I be having fun hunting for piranhas and swinging from treetops on Canopy zip lines, but the experience would create an awareness in me as I got a chance to see the biodiversity of the rainforest.

Many travellers go to bed with dreams at nite of cruising to the Galapogos islands or hiking Macchu Picchu.  But for me, the idea of sleeping on jungle lodges on the rainforest tree tops and swimming with pink dolphins made my heart skip a beat. I wasn't the least bit nervous about the idea of coming across wild jungle animals. After all, I had already survived coming to face to face with one of the deadliest creatures on the Argentine Serpentine.

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Amorous Alpacas

Amorous Alpacas