3 June 2018

Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica Lodge, Peru

I'm outdoors-y, but also a bit of a scaredy cat when it comes to insects and spiders (in fact, my friends would laugh at "bit of") - however, the Peruvian Amazon is one of the world's most biologically diverse regions and we couldn't go to Peru and not go to the Amazon, so I tried not to think about tarantulas, added another couple of internal flights to our itinerary and travelled to the gateway to the jungle, Puerto Maldonado.  After a short car journey from the teeny tiny airport and a 45 minute speedboat trip down the huge, glassy Madre de Dios river, we pulled up to the luxury eco lodge Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica, which we called home for two days.

Treetop canopy at the Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica Lodge, Peru - travel & lifestyle blog

Located on the shore of the river in the 680,000 acre Tambopata National Reserve in southeastern Peru, close to the Brazilian and Bolivian borders, the award-winning Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica was founded in 1975 by Peruvian entrepreneur José Koechlin and has been named one of the world's 25 best eco-lodges by National Geographic Traveler magazine.  It's also an environmental research centre: 2,152 animal species and 540 bird species have been inventoried in the hotel grounds - we saw dozens of monkeys, birds, wild pigs, squirrels, frogs, turtles, lizards, butterflies, insects, and lots of cute little guinea pig-like rodents called agouti snuffling around the huts.

Madre de Dios river, Peru - travel & lifestyle blog

Dinner at Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica Lodge, Peru - travel & lifestyle blog

Blue butterfly in the Amazon, Peru - travel & lifestyle blog

In terms of accommodation, it's rustic meets luxury: there are 35 private wooden cabanas with thatched roofs dotted amongst the trees and paths lit by oil lamps, with mosquito-proof mesh for windows, big white beds, hammocks and simple bathrooms.  There's no wifi, phone reception, TVs or telephones, and electricity is restricted to certain hours - if you need the loo in the middle of the night, it's pitch black with zero light pollution, so you best grab your torch.  Dining was in the central pavilion made from reclaimed wood: fruit and strong coffee for breakfast, and local grilled river fish for dinner, washed down with pisco sours.

Review of Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica Lodge, Peru - travel & lifestyle blog

Flowers in the Peruvian Amazon - travel & lifestyle blog

Bird at Lake Sandoval, Peru - travel & lifestyle blog

Guests can choose from a number of bespoke excursions: on the first day, we pulled on the rubber boots provided by the lodge and hiked for two miles through the humid jungle, knee deep in mud and surrounded by strange noises.  We walked past monkeys dangling from palm trees, weird caterpillars, twisted vines, spindly spiders in their cobwebs (thankfully no tarantulas, although our guide kept pointing out their holes in the ground), big army ants, jungle mushrooms, giant moths, beautiful orchids, and exotic birds calling to each other.  After an hour and a half, we reached a clearing by a mangrove forest, and took a wooden canoe through wetlands out onto the unspoilt Lake Sandoval for more wildlife-spotting: we saw caimans swimming between our boats, colourful macaws, playful river otters and huge hoatzin birds perched on the mangrove trees.

Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica Lodge cabana, Peru - travel & lifestyle blog

Lake Sandoval, Peru - travel & lifestyle blog

Hiking through the Amazon in Peru - travel & lifestyle blog

Each evening, we took a boat trip down the river to spot the glinting eyes of caimans in the dark and families of capybara trotting along the riverbank, before heading back for a relaxed dinner and an early night.  The second day saw another boat trip and a visit to the Inkaterra Canopy Walkway - a treetop bridge system 30 metres above the ground, perfect for birdwatching and seeing the rainforest from another perspective.

Boat trip from Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica Lodge, Peru - travel & lifestyle blog

Monkeys in the Peruvian Amazon - travel & lifestyle blog

Caiman in Lake Sandoval, Peru - travel & lifestyle blog

Peru has the world's highest number of butterfly species: more than 4,000 which is over 20% of all known species.  We saw thousands of butterflies, passing huge clusters along the river at "clay licks" where they feed on the nutrients and salt deposited on the clay banks, and clouds of them above turtles, licking the salt off their shells.  On our way back to the airport, we visited a 600 square metre butterfly reserve packed with these magnificent, colourful creatures feeding on fruit, and fluttering their patterned wings in the sun.

Amazon plants, Peru - travel & lifestyle blog

Army ants at Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica Lodge, Peru - travel & lifestyle blog

Beasts in the Amazon in Peru - travel & lifestyle blog

I took about 300 photos in the jungle and they're all rubbish: blurry monkey tails, out of focus birds taking flight, grainy shots due to the lack of light coming through the canopy, and misty photos thanks to my camera struggling with the humidity.  The only time I'd seen most of these animals in the wild is via David Attenborough and his incredible camera crew with stunning world-class photography, so in comparison my attempts were very underwhelming.  We didn't see sloths, tapirs and anacondas (fine by me), but other than that I was blown away with the variety of wildlife we saw.  Apart from mosquitos: it was pretty uncomfortable dealing with the sticky, tropical temperatures and covering up as much as possible as I always get eaten alive - on our jungle excursion, I received no less than 25 bites, despite covering myself and soaking my clothes in industrial strength spray.  It's making me feel itchy as I type...

Staying in the Amazon was a fantastic experience, and I felt quite brave stepping outside of my comfort zone, but after two days of feeling a little on edge, throbbing with mosquito bites, and wearing sweaty linen shirts and sportswear, no makeup and frizzy Monica hair, I was ready for Friday night back in the capital.  The last stop of the trip was two days in Miraflores back in Lima, which will be the final instalment of our Peru adventure, coming soon!

Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica, Rio Madre De Dios Km15, Puerto Maldonado, Peru
Read other Peru posts & travel features

Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica Lodge at dusk, Peru - travel & lifestyle blog

Black and blue butterfly in the Amazon, Peru - travel & lifestyle blog

Hiking through the Amazon, Peru - travel & lifestyle blog

The Peruvian Amazon rainforest, Peru - travel & lifestyle blog

Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica Lodge bedroom, Peru - travel & lifestyle blog

Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica Lodge, Peru - travel & lifestyle blog

Butterflies in the Amazon, Peru - travel & lifestyle blog

The Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica Lodge, Peru - travel & lifestyle blog

Madre de Dios river at sunset, Peru - travel & lifestyle blog
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