Flying high over northern Peru I gazed down on a land covered in dense tropical rainforest. A glinting river ribbons its way through the vibrant swathe of jungle. The mighty Amazon. Treehouse Lodge sits amid 350 acres of preserved Amazon Rainforest surrounded by thousands more acres of protected land. It’s the most biodiverse region on earth and the perfect place for getting up close to nature and the Amazon wildlife.
If staying in a treehouse high in the rainforest canopy isn’t exciting enough then excursions into the jungle took things to a whole new level. Tropical birds, monkeys and sloth dwell in the treetops whilst river dolphin, giant otter and piranha glide through the dark waters. We saw them all on our Amazon wildlife spotting trips as we ventured out with intrepid guide Marden and Dennis our trusty boatman.
You can take up to three excursions a day during your stay at Treehouse Lodge – including a night-time foray into the jungle. We took two morning excursions, a full-day and an evening excursion. This meant we could enjoy our adventures in the jungle but it also gave us time to chill in our treehouse.
There’s an island near to Treehouse Lodge which is a sanctuary for rescue monkeys which were once sold on the black market or kept as pets. Different species of monkey live together on the island. We stopped our boat nearby and a woolly monkey came down from the trees. She’s used to human contact and wasn’t afraid to come up to the boat – she knew they’d be bananas. Out in the jungle we also saw spider monkeys and squirrel monkeys – some of them also visited the roof of our treehouse one morning. Not the wake up call I’m used to at home!
Our trips into the jungle were in a wooden boat, a skiff, perfect for chugging our way up the narrow tributaries. Dry season means the back waters are much narrower so Dennis our boatman made sure we didn’t get tangled up and trapped in tree roots. The river looks muddy but the water is actually brown due to all the tannin released by the trees.
Marden and Dennis were an eagle-eyed pair and knew exactly where to look for the wildlife. Totally in tune with the sounds of the jungle they would pick up on the slightest rustle of leaves, chirps or monkey chatter. I loved that they got really excited when we spotted anything – even though they’ve probably seen it a hundred times before. We saw three sloth on our first morning out and our guides were just as excited as us! The yellow marking on the sloth’s back shows that it’s a male.
Kingfishers flitted along the river bank ahead of us watching intently from the trees. Cobalt blue butterflies the size of my hand flitted around the boat with smaller yellow and white ones a constant entourage. We saw different varieties of hawk, whole flocks of squawking parakeets and even a toucan or two. A giant river otter was way too fast for me to capture and so were the spider and squirrel monkeys but I got a few good shots of the slower creatures.
Amazon Jungle Walk
The Amazon is bursting with flora, fauna and wildlife and on some trips we’d leave the water to explore land. The jungle is one big medicine cabinet. We saw termites scurrying up trees and burrowing into tree bark. Marden explained how they produce formic acid which can be used as a natural mosquito repellent.
Many of the leaves, bark and roots in the jungle have a medicinal use; for numbing and pain relief, for soothing sunburn and even plants to help cure addictions.
We watched as fire ants rushed up and down a tree trunk. The fierce ants are named after their bite which burns intensely. We also learned about the bullet ant whose bite is far worse and which I hope I never get to see.
Some trees towered so high that we couldn’t see their tops. The water levels of the wet season marked the trunks and they went well above my head.
As we explored the jungle a loud noise cracked through the air like a gun shot, and then another. We stopped and listened as a rushing sound and the breaking of branches filled the air. A tree had come to the end of its life and crashed to the jungle floor.
You need to look where you’re going in the jungle – there are bugs and creepy crawlies out there.
Pink River Dolphins
Most of us have seen a grey dolphin but have you ever seen a pink dolphin? No, I’m not losing the plot. In the Amazon, along the Ucayali River, you’ll see pink dolphins slipping in and out of the water. They’re pink because the blood capillaries are very near the surface of their skin. The more they exert themselves the pinker they get. Actually I do that too! I didn’t get any photos because they were too quick but you can see them on my You Tube video.
Sunset on the Amazon
A favourite time for me during our time in the jungle was sunset on the Amazon. We’d venture out in our little boat and watch as the water became bathed in a golden glow. Birds gathered in the trees to roost for the night. The heat of the day cooled and a balmy breeze brushed across the water. A peaceful time to reflect upon the day’s adventures, our wildlife encounters and soak up those amazing Amazon sunsets.
Where’s your favourite place for wildlife spotting?
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