We stayed at the Explorama Lodge in May, so we avoided the crowds that can arrive during June, July and August. It was just three of us, and our guide Segundo, so we didn’t have to wait for anybody else. Our days included going on hikes through the jungle and jumping on a small boat to cruise around the Amazon River. Everywhere we went we saw some amazing, diverse vegetation, animals and insects.
The mosquitoes were not as bad as I thought they would be. Wearing a long sleeve shirt, long pants and a hat are a good idea, and using clothing made of quick-dry type of materials is an advantage. Our hikes around the jungle were hot and humid; however the sights out-weighed any of those discomforts. A good camera is a must, but some equipment might be affected by the high humidity, so if you’re not sure about yours, take a back-up because there isn’t any place to buy replacements out there. Parts of our days were spent out on a small boat around the river visiting various tributaries. One day we went out to see the Pink and Grey Dolphins that live in the Amazon River. The water is murky so you have to wait for the dolphins to come up for air or jump out of the water. Going out on the boat is the only way to see the Giant Lilies, another beautiful sight.
Another morning we went Piranha fishing. Our bait was raw beef (water buffalo meat) on a typical fishing hook and stick for a pole. It was pretty cool to feel the Piranha nibbling at the bait, but there is a skill to make the catch. Our guide and his assistant were able to hook about 8 Piranha, however my friends and I seemed to be just feeding the fish and not catching anything. I am not one to go fishing, but this experience was a lot of fun and later that afternoon we ate the Piranha for lunch.
Piranha does not have much meat on it, so it is not commonly sought as a meal. The Explorama cooks grilled the fish whole and that is how we were instructed to eat it, bones and all. I was apprehensive about the bones, but when you bite into the fish the bones crumbled like a cracker, and were easy to chew. The flesh tasted like any other typical grilled fresh water fish, but lacking any large amounts of meat, I don’t plan on making it a staple of my diet.
During our stay we met Nancy Dunn an American who started a childrens library in the Amazon. One day we decided to visit her library, and we were pleasantly impressed. We learned she built the building herself and stocked the books through some small grants and donations. All books are in Spanish since she is trying to get the local children fluent and educated in their native language. She will welcome any donations of books in Spanish, take a look at the library’s website, Amazon Library.
One of the days we went to the Canopy Walk near the ExplorNapo Lodge. This destination was one of my goals of my Peruvian trip. We found the experience breath taking. The boat ride from our lodge to ExplorNapo took about an hour and a half, traveling deeper into the RioNapo River of the Amazon. There was a short hike up to the Canopy Walk.
The staff was good about spacing the visitors so your group has time to walk and climb through the walkway at a comfortable pace. Like I said earlier, it was breath taking, the views are amazing and can only be compared to the professional photographs you can see in a National Geographic magazine, but you are there, among it all.
While at Explorama Lodge all of our meals were taken care of by the staff. The food was very good and some of the dishes were creative in how the local vegetables and fruits are included. Of course, don’t expect an Espresso in the morning you will have to settle for instant coffee. But eggs and breakfast meats will be available. Lunches and dinners include something for everyone, whether you eat meat or not.
Around the lodge are some animals that like to visit. One day a Tapir the staff named Nancy came over to visit. It seemed tame, though being as large as a small cow, we were careful not to excite the animal, especially since it was making loud squealing sounds, and we didn’t know what the sounds meant; anger, frustration, hunger, or “hello friend”, who knows. Some wild, colorful parrots were always around the compound. At times the parrots got very loud, squawking and chasing each other, sometimes too early in the morning, but it all added to the exotic experience.
Explorama Lodge was a perfect choice to get a feel for the Amazon jungle. It wasn’t quite like tent camping, but it definitely wasn’t a hotel setting either. The Explorama people are knowledgeable, friendly and extremely accommodating. Lodging, food and transportation are all included in their packages, so all you have to do is enjoy the scenery and take pictures. On their website you can see the various packages they offer, but I really liked that they were willing to customize your visit to fit your needs.
Have you been to any other Amazon lodges that you would like recommend?