I had heard about Tambopata Research Center through a coworker who was obsessed with birds. He had just gone in the jungle for 4 days and 3 nights and suggested I do the same. I looked on their website and decided that $700 (what does this benefit?) was a reasonable amount of money to be whisked away into the depths of the Amazon Jungle so I booked my trip.
I flew in to Lima, Peru and spent a couple days touring around. I then hopped over to Cusco and admired the Spanish and Incan architecture. I made my way up the Sacred Valley to Ollantaytambo where I caught the rail line to Aguas Calientes--the base city for Machu Picchu exploration. After scaling the steep Incan steps I flew to a tiny airport in Puerto Maldonado where I was greeted by an employee of the ecotourism company Rainforest Expeditions. From then on out, my guide took me on the most unforgettable journey to Tambopata Research Center deep in the jungle. The guides were all local and the food was deliciously fresh.
All of the lodges are built open to the jungle. The sounds of cicadas and other jungle insects and birds were intense and comforting during the night. I had visions of giant spiders crawling up the outside of the mosquito net over my bed. Cockroaches roamed the bathroom sink while I slept. We enjoyed jungle walks, canopy towers, brazil nut hunting and bird watching at one of the world's largest clay licks.
Some researchers there gave us a talk about the Macaw Project and explained some of the research that goes on at the center. At that moment I knew I had to come back as a researcher and get involved in jungle science and conservation in any way I could. Ive held this dream close in my heart and you can read the next posts in this blog to see how that dream is unfolding.