Oh, it sounded like a challenge. 4 days and 3 nights in the Amazonian jungle in a wooden canoe with a couple of guides, camping and living rough, eating fish and rice, sweating and beating off mosquitoes. I thought of my friends and family and couldn’t imagine many of them doing this, but then again, lots of people have done so, and have the stories to tell. Usually when I do something that seems like a huge stretch, I am surprised at how much my imagination has overreached. It was a hot, itchy, mosquito plagued blast, and not so hard, after all.
We booked out trip with Huayruro Tours, which is an indigenous owned and operated business with all indigenous guides who spend at least a couple of weeks a year living and tending to the Pacaya Samiria Reserve. Our tour was less than $40 a day inclusive.
I went with a couple of friends first to the Peruvian river city of Yurimaguas, and then by fast boat to the small town of Lagunas, at the entry of the reserve where I would spend a short 4 days.
In Yurimaguas we stayed in a small hostel on the river, the Alojamiento Yacuruna, for the night before we left. What a sweet little hostel! The owners took care of us, and we slept well in our little rooms before catching the morning fast boat to Lagunas.
The fast boat loads at a small port. Life there starts before dawn, the touts and porters hard at work as we arrive for the 7 AM departure. Aside from a young Israeli and another young man from The Netherlands, we were the only non-locals on the boat. People were traveling to villages upriver with supplies and bread. (Yes, everyone had visited the bakeries in Yurimaguas and bought boxes and bags of some of the worst white bread ever. We would discover that this was a staple for people in the Amazon.) There was a huge new speaker system loaded, as well as some smaller ones. Unfortunately the large one was headed to someplace close to us in Lagunas, and would be fired up as soon as the electricity came on (electricity in Lagunas: about 4 hours in the evening). There were tires, a small boat, and lots of boxes of food and dry goods.
We arrived at Lagunas roughly 6 hours later. Most of life in Lagunas revolves around the preserve and the boats that ply the river Paranapura on their way to and from Iquitos and the Amazon. We were greeted at the port by a guide in a tuk tuk, or tri-mobile. From this point on up the River tuk-tuks are the main transportation on land.
We spent the night in Lagunas and got up early for the market, which runs from 6-8 in the morning on the local streets. We bought our hammocks and a few incidentals and got on our way to our wooden boat and guides.
In my next post I’ll describe the actually trip into the reserve.