The Inca Trail was hardship, incredible elation, stunning views, and a history lesson all rolled into one. From start to finish our eyes feasted on everything that came our way. What blew me away was just how dramatic the scenery was all around us and how diverse the the trail takes you through. From farm lands, to flat lands, mountain passes, jungle, cliffs, and stairs that never end, there was an abundance of terrain and climates.
There are way too many photos to show here but for the visual readers out there, I thought that this would be a great way to give you a sense of what the whole 4 day journey was like.
Got your gear and ready to go? Come along for the ride!
Day 1 – To The Jungle!
From Cusco, we board our peculiar Star Peru plane.
A short flight later, we land in Puerto Maldonado. All of us on the plane are practically tourists waiting to get picked up and herded away.
Onboard the Rainforest Expeditions bus, I thought we were getting ready for a long ride but it was literally a 5 minute drive to the offices around the corner from the airport.
We wait here for a bit as some other guests reorganize their bags. This is the opportunity to leave non essentials here in the office. We also got refreshing welcome drinks here.
We boarded the bus again and off we went to the docks. We got a few snacks to much on along the way.
Superman strength of the porters here as they moved all of our luggage from the roof of the bus to the boat below.
Our long boat captain as we make our 2.5 journey up the Tambopata River.
We don’t encounter a whole lot along the river. This is literally the only boat we passed by.
This capybara was the most interesting sighting of the day – largest rodent in the world.
Once we got off the boat and made our way up to the lodge, the first thing I noticed how super sized everything is. These ants are HUGE!
Refugio Amazonas – our home for the next 4 days.
Getting our introductory briefing in the main lodge.
Walk across the beautiful raised walkways to get to our suites.
In front of our classic suite.
Amazing. Even more impressed that we have plugs to charge our stuff AND we have our very own hammock.
After getting cleaned up, we watch a nature video with the group (snoozefest) followed by dinner. In the evening, we pop on our headlamps and head for the boats again to see if we can catch the elusive Black Caiman.
Impossible to take photos in this light but this is one of the baby caiman we spotted on our night boat ride.
Day 2 – Jungle Safari
I think the biggest thing we had to get used to was the coming out of ALL the creepy crawlers at night.
After breakfast, we slipped on our rubber boots and hit the jungle trails.
Cicadas cricket-like towers sprouting from the ground.
There was so much to look at out here.
It was a muddy affair out there so good thing the lodge provides boots.
Our first monkey sighting. This I believe was a Cappuccino Monkey?
First stop was the jungle canopy tower.
It’s quite the view above the canopy as the jungle starts to come alive with a cacophony of music.
Second stop in the morning was Oxbow Lake for a canoe ride. We spotted lots of Hoatzins here as well as a few horned screamers rustling behind.
I think this was the G Adventures group. I recognized quite a few of those people from our plane ride.
Look who’s lurking…
Our guide, Paul, showing us the massive trees of the jungle – The Kapok Tree.
The phallic tree. I will say no more.
We were able to add on a kayaking excursion on the Tambopata River. In my opinion it wasn’t quite worth it as there wasn’t much to see and the sun was blazing hot at this time of the day.
To close off the day, we visit a local farm across the river from Refugio Amazonas to learn about the various crops of the Amazon.
The closest we got to any monkeys during the trip. Having an endless supply of bananas here certainly helped.
Day 3 – Early Rising
If you’re not a morning person, this may not be for you. We woke up 4AM to catch a 2 hour boat ride upstream to the site of the Chuncho Claylicks.
You have to wear dull colours for this activity and when you get out here, you also need to stay as quiet as you can. Our group found a spot to camp out and set up our chairs. The first part of the morning was watching the macaw parrots and other birds flying back and forth.
Even with my 40-150mm + 1.4x extender (420mm FF equivalent), this is as close as I could get. This was my first time doing any sort of bird photography.
The smaller parrots start their morning feast first, pecking away at the clay. Huge flocks would land at once and when spooked, they’d fly away in an explosive burst.
Remember to bring your own binoculars. They have long telescopic ones to share but you’ll need to have your own.
Such majestic and vividly coloured macaw parrots. Amazing to watch in flight.
After a short intermission, we relocate to another area to watch the the macaw land on the claylick.
In the afternoon we make our way to the mammal claylick which is essentially a raised and camouflaged wooden hut/treehouse where we could watch a claylick in hopes that something will make an appearance. It was insanely hot in this hideout.
Our mammal claylick session was a bit of a bust. All we saw was this turkey-like bird hanging out here.
The biggest sighting was actually in the trees that afternoon. The guides were incredibly excited to spot this Harpy Eagle.
Day 4 – A Rainy Goodbye
And just like that, our adventures at the Refugio Amazonas were over!
It was raining cats and dogs at this point. Luckily our flight back to Lima wasn’t delayed.
There isn’t much that happens on Day 4 other than an early breakfast and speedy boat ride back to the Puerto Maldonado port.
Pin It For Later!
Feel like planning your own trip? Make sure you check out my super complete guide of what you need to think about when planning your trip to the Amazon Jungle.
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