The Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica is not located on the Amazon River. The resort is actually on the Madre de Dios River, which eventually connects to the Amazon. The nearest airport and large town is Puerto Maldonado, and it seemed that most people at the airport were incoming or outgoing guests at one of the many the eco-lodges in the area. Of these, the Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica has to be one of the most upscale. The service and accommodations were everything you would expect from a place that bills itself as an “eco-luxury lodge”.
Linda, Mike, Ken and I were met at the Puerto Maldonado airport by staff who took our luggage in hand and directed us to a comfortable, air-conditioned minibus. After a short ride through town and then a lovely boat ride down (or was it “up”?) the river, we arrived at the Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica.
The grounds are beautiful! The individual cabanas have permanent screens on the windows and no locks on the door. Surprisingly, there are hardly any bugs in the rooms. Separating the bed and bath area from the front area of the room, which they call the porch, is a folding wood screen you can use for privacy once the sun sets and the lights are turned on. The beds are huge with quality linens and mosquito netting. The netting really adds to the coziness of the bed, but isn’t needed to keep bugs away because the screens do a good job. The towels are large and fluffy. For security, there is a drawer fitted with a lock and key to store valuables, which was more than adequate for our wallets, passports, iPads, etc.
Before dinner that evening, all the newly arrived guests gathered for the River at Night boat ride. It was beautiful on the river, although the only wildlife we saw were white caymans of varying ages. Still the trip was a thrill. (Sorry for the blurry photo. It was the best I could do in the dark.)
After a good night’s sleep, we were awakened at 5am with a gentle knock at the door. The only noise that I noticed in the night was what I thought was someone walking around on the gravel. In the morning, I realized that there is no gravel on the property, and what I had heard was an animal crunching on something out there. Huh.
At 6am, after breakfast, off we went on our first chosen activity. This morning, there was a London family of 5, our party of 4 and a dad and his teen son. The dad and teen son had one guide and the 9 of us shared the other.
It’s still unclear to me how guides are assigned. It seemed that everyone was assigned a personal guide who was with them throughout their stay. We shared our guide Josue with a family of 5 from London. I am assuming that this was because we had chosen the same activities, but how did they know that both parties would chose the same activities every day, considering we don’t choose until the night before? And how did the staff know that we would love this other family and that we would all get along beautifully?
That morning, we took a boat ride and then walked about an hour to get to an inlet and board a canoe for our exploration of Lake Sandoval. On this trip, we were lucky enough to see giant river otters, which Josue assured us was a rare ocurrence. We also saw black cayman, asthma birds (that’s what Josue called them because they sound like they are wheezing), green ibises, red howler and capuchin monkeys, various other birds and even a baby rainbow boa snake.
We were back the Reserva Amazonica by 11:30, in time for lunch. After lunch, I enjoyed a deep tissue massage by Gladys. The only glitch was that, instead of a 60-minute massage, she gave me 90 minutes so I was a bit late for our afternoon activity. First world problems, anyone?
Are you afraid of heights? I am, but I went on the Canopy Walk anyway. We climbed to the top of a 10-story structure and then crossed a number of hanging bridges, one person at a time. We saw a few monkeys but not much else in the way of wildlife, but that was fine because I was concentrating on crossing the bridges without panicking. Would I do it again? Definitely!
Happy hour with 2-for-1 Pisco Sours. Dinner. Bed.
On Wednesday, we opted for the Lake Valencia excursion, which had an added cost of 444 soles per person. It was worth every sol! Our driver took the boat through a narrow channel where everyone had to be careful not to be whacked by low lying branches. (The water level is low because it is the dry season.) Once we got to Lake Valencia, it was time to fish! Josue had assured us that this would not be an exercise in patience, because the lake is INFESTED with piranha. (In hindsight, I think young Gideon might have some issue with this statement, although he finally did catch one.) We used small pieces of red meat to bait our hooks and then threw the lines in. Then one of two things happened. Either you repeatedly pulled your line out after feeling nibbles, only to see the bait get smaller and smaller and eventually disappear, or you pulled your line out with a piranha attached. We were clearly instructed not to try to pull the fish off ourselves, but to let one of the staff do it, so we wouldn’t be bitten.
Next up was the am-I-really-going-to-do-this moment of the day. We were driven out to the middle of the large piranha-infested lake and offered the opportunity to jump in and swim. Really. There are cayman in there too. And snakes. Supposedly, the wildlife stays on the edges of the lake and really isn’t interested in eating healthy people who aren’t bleeding, no matter what the movies show. I thought of Brian Lerond, sticking his hand into his personal piranha tank to show us how docile they are, and I jumped in. Everyone lived to tell the tale.
Earlier, we had dropped off an Inkaterra chef at a satellite camp, and he cooked our piranha while we were swimming so we could lunch on the fish we caught! Luckily, there was a lot of other food too, because there isn’t much to eat on piranha. The fish is mostly bone and teeth with just barely a bit of meat on it.
That night, we did a Rainforest-at-Night tour of the property. I’m not sure I would have passed that tree so blithely earlier if I had known that a huge tarantula was living the knot just about level with my head. We saw a night monkey. Well I think we saw a night monkey. It was dark. There was also the outline of a sloth, living high up in a tree behind the kitchen. I wonder what he thought of having all those lights shining on him while he was just trying to hang out.
The Amazonica Reserva is not a place to sit and read a book. They keep you busy, and the staff keeps the lighting to a minimum. The next morning, we got up at 5am to see birds, but it was too windy so we only saw a few, instead of the hundreds of parakeets that are usually there near the resort.
Then it was time for breakfast and to head out to the airport. Once again, Inkaterra took care of our luggage and even had our boarding passes for us. (There isn’t internet there, so you cannot check in online.) On our way, we stopped at their Butterfly House. This was fine, but I think the added stop just provides the staff a bit more time to turnover the cabanas, because the next batch of guests is arriving on the flight that you are leaving on.
Our personal guide Josue (Joshua) was wonderful. His ability to locate wildlife from hearing their cries to noticing movement in the treetops was amazing. We loved our Galapagos guides last year, but the guides there have it so easy when compared to Amazon guides, trying to spot a tiny monkey in the wilds. (Galapagos wildlife just sits there on the path, waiting for you to take its picture.) Josue was with us for excursions, beginning at 6am and ending at 8pm, always armed with good humor and knowledge. His passion for the area and the culture was obvious. He told us that he had worked as a guide in Cusco, but missed the jungle life, so he got the job at Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica.
Josue’s comments about how global warming and gold mining are destroying the rain forest and jungle were heartbreaking. The beauty we experienced was awe-inspiring but so fragile.
When planning this trip, we opted for the Amazon add-on, in lieu of staying at The Sanctuary Lodge at Machu Pichhu. The 4-night all-inclusive cost for one couple was less than one night at The Sanctuary Lodge, and it was well worth it. Every need is taken care of, and the facilities are luxurious and beautiful! Sunrise on the Madre de Dios river is breathtaking. Ken and I would recommend this highly to anyone. The bugs weren’t even bad, this being their dry season.
- You need headlamps/flashlights to read the menus at meals. It’s dark at the Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica at night. In fact, the resort turns off the electricity to conserve power from 11pm-4am and 3:30pm-6pm everyday. This was never a problem, because we could still charge our cameras overnight.
- There is no internet connectivity and or phone reception here. Just be prepared and you’ll be fine.
Next week: Cusco