Posts Tagged With: dinner

May 24 – Day 5 – Ziplining, Family Dinner and Ladyboys

Today is our free time day – we have scheduled activities starting at 4pm but up until then, it’s our own choice.

I made the choice to book an activity with Dragon Flight Chiang Mai – it’s a 1900 baht experience (about £36, $50) for the day but it sounds super cool!  They drive you up to the jungle and then there is a course of zip lines through the jungle.

Dek booked the trip for me, and I paid him cash for it and was told to meet in the lobby between 8 and 8:30.  Some of the others had other activities booked, so there were a group of us waiting for different mini busses. Mine arrived first, and after a bit of confusion over my lack of ticket (Dek spoke in Thai and the problem went away), I got on board and sat… There were 3 girls already on the bus, and we then proceeded to drive around the town picking up people.  The mini bus was oddly silent on the way to the adventure – I think everyone was afraid to start the conversation, but that kind of worked out because most people were tired so there was a nap opportunity. I chose to check out the scenery instead, and we drove for almost an hour and a half into the mountains, with the minibus really being pushed to it’s limits – the driver had to turn the AC off to get up some of the hills!

Eventually we arrived at base camp and we were given a bit of a briefing, told to sign a waiver, and offered tea and coffee.

Briefing

Briefing

Photo opportunity

Photo opportunity

Tea and coffee

Tea and coffee

Photo package

Photo package

Gear selfie

Gear selfie

I started chatting to a group of girls from Europe (2 from Switzerland and 1 from Germany) and we agreed to group together and pay for a photographer – 1200baht for all 4 of us – to take photos throughout the experience.  At 300baht each (£6) this was a pretty cheap thing to do.  Once we were briefed and fed and watered, we were fitted with our harnesses – Petzl gear, and pretty new looking. They were thorough in checking everything fitted properly and then loaded us onto a van for the short ride to the start line.

Our group at the start

Our group at the start

I won’t bore you with a description of all the lines on the course, but it was a REALLY fun morning.  Here are some of the highlights photos:

The zipline course finished close to the office of the company, so we stopped there and removed our safety gear etc.  The photographer copied all the photos (over 300) onto our memory cards, and we headed down to their little restaurant for the included lunch which consisted of green curry, steamed vegetables and some stir fry noodles as well as rice.  It was a really fun morning!

Once everyone was filled up, we headed back on the bus for the 90 minute bus ride to Chiang Mai.  I was last to get dropped off, but was still back in my hotel before 3pm, giving me an hour to go and relax before our 4pm next activity.  I headed quickly to the laundry to drop off a load of washing which was weighed and she told me the price would be 60 baht (£1.20) for the load!

Laundry for less than £1 per kilo!

At 4pm we met in the lobby for our Khantoke dinner, which means heading out to a locals house to sample their hospitality and learn more about their day to day life.  The home was a short mini bus ride from our hotel and we arrived at Chiang Mai Home Host by Raunkaew Yanon Family. We were greeted by Pat, the head of the family, and his son Joe, who presented us with a welcome drink and welcomed us in surprisingly good English.

Pat welcomes us to their home

Dek and Steve use their drinks covers as party hats

After the welcome drink and presenting us with a necklace of flowers, we were guided around two houses. The first house is the older of the two, made of Teak wood (before the Thai government protected Teak in the 1970s) and it’s neighbouring rice barn.  The family live in the traditional  Lanna way, and this home is home to Joe’s cousins.  The house itself is raised up from the ground to protect from flooding and other intruders, and is separated into 3 main rooms – a bedroom for the parents, and a bedroom for the kids, as well as a living space which includes a small prayer area, a cooking space and a living area.  They only have two bedrooms because the orientation of these is very important – the feet of the parents are allowed to point to the children, but the children can’t point towards the parents (feet are considered dirty in Lanna culture, which is also part of the reason why you have to remove your shoes at all the temples and when visiting someone’s home).

The cooking area

Joe shows us around the house

The rice barn and the collection basin underneath

Joe, our guide

A teak house

The family grow all their own rice in their rice field, and harvest one a year. The harvesting is done in a big basin, which is then separated into small baskets and stored in the rice barn.  6 generations of the family have lived on this site, with 4 generations currently living there – Pat is the 3rd generation, his mother lives there as does Joe and his wife and their daughter. It was amazing to see the way these people live and that they are trying so hard to keep the old cultures and traditions alive.

In the second house, which is more modern, we were given samples of various traditional produce and techniques – including the Lanna way of having tea (soaked tea leaves are chewed like chewing tobacco) and brushing their teeth (which involved tree sap, bitter nuts, a leaf, some bark, and some other stuff… It tasted awful!)

Some produce drying in the sun

Yvonne pays respect with a floral donation to the small shrine outside the house

Tea leaves steamed and soaked, ready for chewing

A wall of pictures of older members of the family

After the tour of the two houses, we were shown around the garden which is where the produce for our dinner has been grown.  This family focuses on growing herbs and flavours, so the meat and vegetables themselves have come from the market whilst the herbs and sauces are all products of the garden.  In the past, all of this would have been traded with neighbours. The most impressive part for me was the greenhouse, which had an incredible smell due to all the drying herbs and spices.  We were also shown the rice field where they’re desperately awaiting the rain in the hope that the crops will grow quickly enough before they need to harvest.

The Greenhouse, such an amazing smell. Kafier Limes were my favourite.

Garden Selfie

The families rice field

Joe shows us some leaves. We ate a lot of leaves.

After the garden tour, we headed back to the area around the house where we were introduced to Grandma who was preparing some banana leaves on a hot stone.  We were quizzed about what we thought they might be for – and it turns out, they’re for cigars!  In the past, almost everyone in the Lanna families would smoke, because it keeps away mosquitos.  Fred and Steve gave one a go, and it looked pretty authentic, but I wasn’t tempted!

89 year old grandma

Steve tries the banana leaf cigar

Soon it was time for our appetiser, and we were presented a do it yourself snack, with a plant leaf to hold our various ingredients.  To this we added seed, nuts, onion, kafier lime, chill is and a hot sauce, wrapped it up and popped it in our mouth. It tasted awesome!

I think we all could have had a lot more of these little snacks, but Pat and Joe were keen to show us the rest of the meal their family had prepared for us.  A normal Lanna meal would be 1 or 2 main dishes but since we were guests they had prepared a whole platter including Pork Belly, Pork Bolognaise, Chicken Red Curry, Steamed Vegetables, Stir Fried Noodles, Sticky Rice, Boiled Rice, Chicken Legs, Crispy Pork Skin, Prawn Crackers… And a ton of other things I didn’t even write down!

As per tradition, dinner was served on the a small Khantoke tray and we sat on the floor, legs crossed, and ate with our hands.  It was really amazing to try these traditional foods in a relaxed and friendly family environment. Towards the end of the meal, Joes 2 year old daughter came over and joined us and she was pretty cute, clearly shy but practicing her ‘peekaboo’ – the only English she appeared to know. Not bad for a 2 year old though!

At the end of the meal we prepared our own herbal tea – I chose Turmeric, which tasted good and is meant to relieve a stomach after a heavy meal.

Just before we set off, we were presented with some goodbye packages of some home made sweets, which looked really cute and tasted good too.  After that, we headed back to the hotel to drop off our bags before our next activity!

At our request, Dek had arranged tickets for an evening ‘ladyboy’ cabaret show in the market that evening – the show started at 21:30, and we paid our 290 baht for our tickets and made our way in.  The show was Chiang Mai Cabaret – catchy name! The ticket included a free drink, which was served to us by a flamboyant waitor/waitress as we waited for the show to start.

The show was great fun – I didn’t take photos since I prefer to let the production do their own photography.  If you’re interested, here’s a YouTube video of part of the show: https://youtu.be/ZJU3YzdzVtk 

Once we were done with the show, I headed back to the hotel since it had been a pretty busy day! Tomorrow we get ‘free time’ before heading to Laos in the afternoon.  I think I’ll treat myself to a lie in!

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Khantoke Dinner

traditional-khantoke-dinner-and-show-from-chiang-mai-in-chiang-mai-40429Another thing i’m really excited about during the trip is the Khantoke Dinner – a traditional northern Thai dinner which we will have one night during our time in Chaing Mai.  Khantoke is a sort of dinner/show where you sit around a low table and eat whilst watching traditional entertainment on stage.  We did a similar thing in Peru, so i’m quite excited to see the differences and compare the cultures.

One big aspect i’m looking forward to is the food in Thailand – Thai food is legendary around the world and i’m sure they’ll go to an effort to show us some of the really amazing dishes.  We even have a cookery lesson one day, but i’ll write about that in another blog.

Categories: Food, Future Adventures, South East Asia, Travel | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Quest of the Gods – Day 6, Inca Trail ·Day 1

I woke up at 5am due to an uncovered skylight in the room I was staying in, but that was fine since the nervous and excited energy would easily carry me through the day.  Psyching myself up in the room before breakfast, I reminded myself that day one is the easy one – just 11km and a 300m elevation change to cope with.  All I could think was “Can we go yet?!”, but I waited patiently for breakfast.

Selfie before breakfast

Selfie before breakfast

Breakfast was the relatively usual combination now – Scrambled eggs, mango, pineapple, and coca tea (to stem off any altitude sickness).  After breakfast we were given a few minutes to repack our duffles and hand over any unnecessary possessions to Harold (who would not be joining us on the trail) for safekeeping whilst we hiked.

Frustratingly the bus was running on Peruvian timing and arrived a few minutes late – those minutes went by so slowly though!  After picking us up, the bus drove into Ollantayatambo and collected the three new people joining our group for the Inca trail – Mark, Katie and Simone.  Mark and Katie had been travelling for 5 months around the world and this was their last stop before heading home to London, whilst Simone is a german doctor (our third doctor in the group!) – no risk of any health issues on the trail!

The hotel that Katie, Mark and Simone had been staying in was right next to the Kwik-e-mart!

Kwik-e-mart

Kwik-e-mart

After picking up the rest of the group we drove to the famous km82 – the start point of the Inca trail!

We did a final check of our bags, and were passed over our rented items (sleeping bags, sleeping mattresses, walking poles, etc.) -and then a final weight check was carried out.  The only person with a problem on the bag weight was Simone, who had somehow managed to bring 9kg instead of 6kg… it was easily resolved by transferring items into her day pack though, so we were ready to go!

Final bag checks

Final bag checks

Our snack packs were handed out, and this morning they contained a banana, some apple flavoured boiled sweets and a pack of biscuits.  It’s important to keep snacking on the trail since the meal times are quite far apart and the calorie burn is high. And the snacks were yummy.

Last selfie before the start

Last selfie before the start

Km82 - the start!

Km82 – the start!

After the obligatory group photos by the KM82 sign, we joined the long queue to pass through the official checkpoint and begin the trail.  There are actually two checkpoints – one for porters, and one for hikers.  As we queued, Israel and Javier (our second guide) gave us a briefing on what to expect in the morning – essentially a few steep up and downhill sections but relatively easily.  At each checkpoint we were able to stamp our passports to indicate we had passed that point, and it was a great feeling to mark the first one into my passport as we officially began the trail!

My passport, waiting for the first stamp

My passport, waiting for the first stamp

Bridge, marking the start of the trail

Bridge, marking the start of the trail

The porters got off to a running start

The porters got off to a running start

The weather was stunning for the stat of the trail – really beautifully hot and sunny and the scenery looked spectacular in the daylight.  Within what felt like minutes we already reached an amazing view point, and of course stopped for plenty of photos!

Me at the first viewpoint

Me at the first viewpoint

The first viewpoint

The first viewpoint

The pace of the hike was good – gentle, with lots of stops for explanations, but not too slow as to get frustrating.  We began hiking around 10am and hiked for around 2-3 hours before lunch, passing through some tiny villages and amazing hills and scenery.  I didn’t post all the photos, because quite frankly – you’d get bored despite how beautiful the hills were!

Once we stopped for lunch, we were all hungry (despite having demolished our snacks), but none of us were expecting what was waiting for us.  On arrival at the rest point, the porters had lined up and applauded us as we walked into the site – such a strange feeling being applauded!  The porters had set out two tents at a small rest point, and the chef had kicked into action and whipped us up an amazing lunch.

Corn soup

Corn soup with garlic bread

The kitchen and lunch tents

The kitchen and lunch tents

Lunch - vegetables and rice

Lunch – vegetables and rice

There was dessert too, but honestly – it didn’t last long enough to be photographed.  It was a purple syrupy dessert which is famous in Peru – it’s made from purple corn and spices, and apparently school kids beg for it for their birthday parties, so we were lucky to have it.  My google-fu tells me it is probably Mazamorra Morada.

After lunch, we were given a 40 minute ‘siesta’ break during which time I read some of my book in the shade and topped up my water from the freshly boiled water the porters had arranged.  The weather was so hot, i’d already drank 1.5 litres and it was only 2pm!

Israel informed us that we had already completed more than 6km in the morning, leaving just 5km to do for the rest of the day, or as I calculated it, just 39km to Machu Picchu!

Trail map at the second checkpoint

Trail map at the second checkpoint

Second checkpoint

Second checkpoint

Selfie, at the second checkpoint

Selfie, at the second checkpoint

Day one stamps!

Day one stamps!

The afternoon proceeded in much the same way – beautiful views, stops for explanations of the area we were in, and photo opportunities.  Our camp site on the first night was actually past the ‘second day’ checkpoint, so we passed through that at the end of day one instead of the start of day two, which was equally as exciting as getting the KM82 stamp at the start of the day.  My passport now had two Inca trail stamps on it, and all i’d gone is gently hiked 11km!

Popcorn!

Popcorn!

Arriving at the camp for the night, we rapidly went into Tea Time mode, which they take very seriously – fresh batches of popcorn appeared, along with a selection of teas and coca leaves for us to drink.  We sat around and were taught the rules to Shithead – two games later and Al continued his losing streak at card games!

After tea time we had an introduction meeting with our porters.  For our group of 8 hikers (Me, Al, Asfia, Steffi, Ruth, Mark, Katie and Simone) we had 19 porters on the trail, plus two guides!  Gadventures look after the porters really well, providing them with the necessary equipment and limiting their weights to just 20kg.  Some of the other operators we saw had obviously flouted the rules about maximum weights, and some porters were even hiking barefoot!

Our group

Our group

It was great to meet our porters, and most of them introduced themselves in Quechua, which is the local language in the Andes.  Quechua is an onomatopoeic language, and we learned that the word for Baby is “wah wah” whilst the word for Guineapig is “Cuy”.

After tea time and the meeting were over, it was quickly time for dinner – another feast prepared by our chef including a vegetable soup, eggplant, potato and noodles… they like giving us double carbs, but quite frankly my body was appreciating it!

Once the light faded and dinner was over, it was time for a relatively early night… sleep is important on the trail, and we would be receiving our wake up call at 5am.  I was really excited to be sleeping under the stars for the first time in years!

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Quest of the Gods – Day 4, Jungle to Cusco

Thunder and lightning kept me awake from 4am, which was a mixture of terrifying and awesome.  Being so close to nature, you never quite know what’s going to happen, and it really emphasised just how close we were to nature!  Waking up and heading to the bathroom, I realised that the bats who were living in the roof of the cabin had been a little scared of the lightning, and had left me presents all over the shower floor…. luckily it washed off easily enough!

I was packed and ready to go by 6:30am, despite the morning call time being 7:30, which I thought would give me an hour of alone time, but once I headed to the bar almost everyone else was there already!  Seems we’re a group of early risers, or maybe the thunder and lightning just kept us up – certainly Kirsten and Mike had been kept awake by the giant spider in their mosquito net (not a perfect honeymoon bed!)

Breakfast at 7:30 was scrambled eggs, fried plantain and the most amazing mango I ever tasted.

We quickly headed to the boat and were whisked on a 90 minute river trip to the port, during which time we raced a couple of the other lodges (everyone heads at the same time because there are only a few flights a day from Puerto Maldonado).

Racing on the river

Racing on the river

During the trip we did a bit of bird spotting, but everyone was generally subdued to be leaving the jungle so quickly after we arrived.  It would have been amazing to stay there a few more days, but i’m pretty sure even if you stayed there 2 years you would still be discovering new things!

After a 45 minute bumpy van ride to the office, we repacked our bags/suitcases from the duffles we took into the jungle and then headed to the airport.  We stopped at a little snack store and I bought some brazil nut and tomato cookies which were really good, even if the taste was a little strange.

Repacking our bags

Repacking our bags

At the airport, G Adventures have an agreement with Avianca to use their executive check-in lines, which made us all feel very important – particularly as all the other tours have to use the ‘normal’ checkin.

Airport selfie

Airport selfie

The airport is tiny in Puerto Maldonado and we were warned that the checkin process might be unusual – rather than owning a bag scanner and scanning the bags after check-in, the airport opts for a more hands-on approach – opening bags and scanning them with hands before they go through check in.  The process was kind of ridiculous, with hands probing around to find god knows what in our bags.  After promising I didn’t have anything dodgy in my bag, and a pair of gloved hands finding nothing, I was free to check in as normal and from then we had a short wait whilst Harold obtained the check-in ladies number (although he insists he was just getting a number to check his air miles).  We continued to tease him about this the whole trip!

The flight itself was uneventful, and the airline provided a USB port at our seats which was great for recharging my camera!

Plane selfie - Puerto Maldonado to Cusco

Plane selfie – Puerto Maldonado to Cusco

After we arrived in Cusco, the centre of the Inca empire, we were whisked to our hotel (5 minutes by private bus) and checked in.  Harold gave us a guided tour of the city and we tried the free Coca Tea (good for relieving altitude sickness, since Cusco is at 3400m from sea level).

True to form, Harold had booked us a table at an amazing little restaurant (Aguaymanto) for lunch which had the most incredible menu of Peruvian dishes and catered well to the needs of G Adventures guests.  It was really hidden up a back alley and a staircase but worth exploring to find it!

Group shot at the restaurant

Group shot at the restaurant

We shared some Nachos as a starter and then I had a thai green curry as a main, followed by a shared Mango Flambé for dessert.   It was awesome, and we all left feeling great about Cusco.  Nobody was really feeling the altitude, which we were all thankful of since we had been warned it could be a tough evening.

After dinner a short recognition walk showed us more of the area including the central square which featured a rather excited looking Inca on a fountain.  My google-fu tells me he is Pachacuti – the main Inca who built Cusco and Machu Picchu into the places they are today.

Cusco central square

Cusco central square

On the way back to the hotel, the girls were acosted by some Andean women holding cute lambs who forced them to have photos taken with the lambs and then demanded payment (as much as S20, $7) for the photos.

Once back at the hotel we freshened up before our briefing about the inca trial at 19:00.

During the briefing, we met our guide (Israel) and he talked us through the plan for the trip, packing and essentials.  We have a 6kg limit for personal items which will be carried by the porters – which gets reduced by 2.5kg for our sleeping bag and 1kg for our air mattress, leaving just 2.5kg for our personal stuff!

Israels recommended packing list for those 2.5kgs:

  • 3 t-shirts
  • 3 pairs of hiking socks
  • 3 sets of underwear
  • Thermals to sleep in
  • Warm hat and gloves
  • Spare pair of hiking pants
  • Sandals
  • Warm jacket
  • Towel
  • Toiletries

I don’t know which lightweight shop he goes to, but when I put all that in my duffle it came to 4kg!  A quick rationalisation and I was back to 2.5kg – phew!

Israel talked us through the timeline of the 4 days

  • Day one – Gentle start – Pickup at 7:15, bus to the km82 start point, starting at 2700m, hike for 11km/6 hours, starting at 9:30.  Climb is only 300m, so we sleep at 3000m
  • Day two – Challenge day – Starting at 3000m, hike for 12km/8 hours, starting at 6:30.  Climb is 1200m, descent about 600m, sleeping at 3600m
  • Day three – Culture day – Starting at 3600m, hike for 16km/10 hours, starting at 6:30.
  • Day four – Machu Picchu – Starting at 3:30am, hike for 6km/2 hours, Gate to Machu Picchu opens at 5:30am.  After MP, take a bus/train/bus back to Cusco

We would have another 3 people joining us for the trail, and Mike and Kirsten would be doing the Lares Trek which is an alternative trek for those who are unable to get Inca Trail passes (only 500 passes are issued a day).  For our group of 8 hikers, we would have 19 porters!

Most important thing, which they kept reminding us, was to bring our passports!  Clearly that has burned them in the past!

In our day packs, we were told to pack:

  • Sunhat
  • Sunglasses
  • Mosquito repellent & sunscreen (question: why don’t they make sunscreen which is mosquito repellent as well?)
  • Water bottle / camelbak
  • Toilet paper / baby wipes
  • Rain gear / Poncho
  • Snacks
  • Passport (must not forget this)
  • First aid kit / medication
  • Headtorch and spare batteries
  • Camera
  • Cash (S300 – S400)

Before the trail started, we had a tour day visiting the Sacred Valley, which is a chance for us to get prepared for the trail and also test our gear.  Our big bags would stay in Cusco whilst we toured the Sacred Valley and did the Inca Trail, so we would need to take everything with us tomorrow ready for the trail.  Exciting times!

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Quest of the Gods – Day 2, Jungle

After dreaming excitedly of the jungle, I woke before my alarm at 5:45.  At 6:00, the planned wake up call came through and I prised myself out of bed to quickly shower and repack then head down for breakfast.  The breakfast was a buffet style and included in the price of the tour (as it will be throughout the tour) – I had some granola, a banana, some bread rolls and a glass of orange juice.

At 7:00 we met in the foyer of the hotel to head back to Lima airport in a transfer van.  The airport is about 70 minutes from the hotel, and during the van journey Harold gave us a brief guide to the history of Peru and spoke a lot about the troubles in the past, particularly when the van was driving through some rougher areas of Lima.  Harold distributed our boarding passes – we are travelling with Avianca who are a Star Alliance airline, so my United miles work for this trip too!  Harold had pre-selected seats for both flights, since we would fly first to Cusco and then stay on the same plane to Puerto Maldonado.  Puerto Maldonado is the gateway to the amazon basin and very close to the Brazil border, which makes it a pretty busy city by Peruvian standards.  When we landed at the airport we were the only plane on the tarmac, so it clearly isn’t that busy!

Plane selfie - Lima to Cusco

Plane selfie – Lima to Cusco

Plane Selfie - Cusco to Puerto Maldonado

Plane Selfie – Cusco to Puerto Maldonado

The first flight was uneventful, but late.  Or rather, running on Peruvian timing.  Once we landed in Cusco there were no gates free so we had to wait a while, and then wait whilst everyone deplaned, before we shifted to our second seats.  For the second flight Harold had arranged window seats for us all, so that we could watch the views of the river from the window.  Although we were visiting the Amazon basin, the river itself was the Tambopata river which is a tributary to the Amazon.  From the plane, it is one of the typical views of the Amazon basin – oxbow lakes, meanders, and huge amounts of vegetation. The second flight was short – only 30 minutes – and landing in Puerto Maldonado we could feel the excitement building.

The jungle from the plane

The jungle from the plane

Tambopata River from the plane

Tambopata River from the plane

After collecting our bags, we headed out of the airport to meet our local guide, Ronald (Ronny) who would be looking after us in the jungle.  We jumped onto a minibus and were taken to a small Gadventures office where we swapped out our big bags/suitcases for small duffle bags which we would take into the jungle (since the humidity is high and we don’t need all our clothes for the 2 nights in the jungle).  The repacking took 20 minutes and we had a chance to go to a local shop to buy ponchos, snacks, etc – I bought an ice cream!

Bus selfie

Once the bags were repacked, we got back onto the minibus for a 45 minute trip to the river.  The road was basic to say the least, and I certainly wouldn’t recommend the trip to anyone who gets motion sickness… bumpy, but amazing and we began wildlife spotting as we drove along.  At the port, we boarded the boat which would take us on a 2 1/2 hour journey into the amazon basin to the lodge.  It’s worth mentioning that the service level of the staff here is incredible – we didnt even carry our bags down to the boat –  the Gadventures staff did that for us!

Boat selfie

Boat selfie

Harold had warned us that we should have our eyes open as soon as we got onto the boat, and he wasn’t wrong – the wildlife spotting started almost immediately!  We saw vultures, monkeys and a giant guinea pig creature called a Capybara.  Every time the guides spotted something of interest they called the boat to a halt and we moved in close to take photos, and were given explanations of the habitat around the creatures too.  We also saw a basking turtle on a piece of wood, which was fascinating.

Capybaras

Capybaras

Turtle on some wood

Turtle on some wood

A family of monkeys

A family of monkeys

During the journey we were served a packed lunch – mine was mushrooms, vegetables and rice, together with two of the worlds smallest bananas!  Those bananas were so cute, and are available all the time in the lodge.

Smallest bananas ever!

Smallest bananas ever!

Vegetables and rice

Vegetables and rice

 

Shortly before arriving at the Tambopata Eco Lodge we saw a spectacular sunset, which felt very special with the river spread out infront of us.  Once we arrived, we headed up the river bank to the lodge and straight into the bar where we were served welcome cocktails of fruit juice and then were given 45 minutes to freshen up in our rooms before a slide show presentation.  The electricity is only on in the lodge from 5pm – 10pm, so this was also the chance to recharge our cameras for the nighttime activities.

Sunset on the Tambopata

Sunset on the Tambopata

The rooms are amazing in the lodge – I had half of the building to myself, and as you can see, it was a really special experience.  There’s no electricity at all in the buildings, so we had to use headtorches and candles for everything – even setting up the mosquito nets, which seemed quite dangerous to me!

My home for the 2 nights

My home for the 2 nights

After a quick freshen up, we met in the bar and ordered a round of Passion Sours before heading into the slide show presentation. The barmaid wasn’t the fastest, so Harold had to bring the cocktails in for us after the slideshow started, but again – the service level was impeccable.  Nothing was too much trouble, and there was no bitterness to us being late or an inconvenience by ordering drinks before an activity.  The slideshow was educational and gave us an idea of what we could expect to see over the next few days, including Caiman which are probably the most impressive creature which lives around the lodge.

After the slide show, we headed to the dinner hall for dinner which was served buffet style.  The lodge had been prepared for my vegetarian needs and Ronny saught me out to hand me a plate of vegetables as soon as I arrived.  The food was amazing, and Ronny told us that almost all of it was grown within 10 minutes of the lodge.  For dessert they served crepes, and on the table was purple corn juice (Chica Morada) which is a Peruvian speciality.

As soon as dinner was finished we prepared and headed out for the legendary “night walk”.  This is a walk in the dark using head torches and cameras to spot some of the night residents in the rainforest.  We only walked about 300 meters from the lodge, but we saw so many amazing creatures.  Check out the photos for just a few examples – some were way too fast or far away to take decent photos of!

Tiny lizard on a leaf

Tiny lizard on a leaf

Giant ant on a tree trunk

Giant ant on a tree trunk

A cricket

A cricket

Not even sure what this one is!

Not even sure what this one is!

A stick insect - not hiding well in the camera flash!

A stick insect – not hiding well in the camera flash!

Some sort of huge beetle

Some sort of huge beetle

A scary looking caterpillar

A scary looking caterpillar

Grasshopper, maybe?

Grasshopper, maybe?

Poisonous frog.  We know it was poisonous because it didn't run away when it saw us.

Poisonous frog. We know it was poisonous because it didn’t run away when it saw us.

A millipede

A millipede

A lizard thing with cool camouflage

A lizard thing with cool camouflage

 

After the night walk, to steady our neves we settled down for another Passion Sour (it would be rude not to, after all… it’s helping the local economy!) and reminisced about our first day of adventuring.

Once the cocktails dried up (the electricity got shut off), we headed to our cabins for bed time – preparing for bed by candllight was special, and getting into bed listening to the sounds of the jungle was an experience I will never forget.

The breakfast meeting was set at 6am the next day since we had a packed day of activities planned, so I drifted off to sounds of the jungle in fear of my 5am alarm! (No wake up calls provided in the cabins – there were no phones!)

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