Everything we needed for the next three days and two nights, had to be strategically squeezed into a daypack each. There were no porters or horsemen for this adventure. We were it.
What to leave behind was more stressful than the prospect of swimming with piranha’s!
By the time the complimentary pick up had arrived, our panic had evaporated. Bridged with the knowledge that I have worn Claire’s undies before (blog post First Impressions and, Seconds, Thirds and Fourths – Part 1), as long as they were wholesome ones.
We met Alex at the Tambopata Giant Otter Experience tour location where we booked the tickets the day before. He was to be our guide for the next three days. His bag looked way more inviting to carry than our ‘stuffed to the brim’ ones.
Last minute water purchases were made – by the time we took our first steps, I was humping an extra six litres and Claire, four. This was in addition to our day packs!
No sooner had we reached the end of the boulevard on the way to the long boat, Alex started his commentary of things of interest. The huge mango tree laden with green oval shaped fruits yet to ripen dangling from branches high up was over two hundred years old. And it was like that the remainder of the time we spent with Alex – he was a walking wikipedia with sharp eyes … especially when it came to animal and insect life. He was incredible and just brilliant.
Of course, if you ask us to repeat the names of things that he imparted, pfft. It took us half a day to let go of the thought of having forgotten something!
It wasn’t far to make our way down to the Madre de Dios River water’s edge. The mercury was climbing, as was the humidity moisture so beads of sweat trickled. All over. The long boat was reversed up off the embankment and then we were off, carving the brown tarnished colour water towards the Tambopata National Reserve and Lake Sandoval.
It was a fifty minute scoot along the river to the spot we disembarked. It was a bit of a steep climb up some steps to reach the embankment top; during the rainy season, the river flow volume increases to lap at the top rung. That was hard to imagine and comprehend, given the width of the river in some places to be over 3-5 football field lengths. It forms part of the Amazon tributary headwaters.
It was a short walk to the entrance where we had to register. Authorities want to ensure that those that go beyond, do exit. Or are able to advise next-of-kin that they didn’t because they became fodder for everything that crawls!
It was a 3 kilometre walk along well trodden track. Stone steps used during the rainy season lay high and dry and a new boardwalk construction made for easy walking. It wasn’t too far before Alex put his fingers to his mouth to silence the chit chat. We slowed to a creeping step and then stopped to look up into the trees tops. Monkeys. Just doing their thing. They stared at us as much as we them. Wow. To see them in their habitat was exhilarating. We carried on.
Alex stopped and picked up a length of grass, wiggling it in-front of a hole just off the board walk. Then the furry thing appeared. A Tarantula spider. We both took a step back to the opposite side of the walking boards, putting a little more distance between us and it. It retreated.
Alex wiggled some more and then the mother Tarantula exited the hole. We couldn’t step back any further and thoughts of holding one ceased to be an option right there and then. She was huge. You had no clue which eye was looking at you as the fangs pronged at the piece of grass being toyed by Alex. He got just as much enjoyment watching us whimper in fright as the hairs on the back of our necks stood to attention.
I made sure I was in-between Alex and Claire the remainder of the boardwalk to the canoes.
Taking a wide berth of all the holes from then on too! No matter the size of the hole. Just because.
Thank goodness I did pack the can of fly spray purchased at the market the day before too.
Okay for mosquitos and maybe half the can on the size of the spiders.