Our dream of going into the jungle was finally upon us...we were going into the deep jungle in the Amazonas! As much as we were looking forward to it we were shitting ourselves! After a lot of hassle figuring out which agency/guide to go with we got some strong recommendations to go with this guide called Sami. As it happened the rest of our group was already in the jungle as they had stayed the night and we travelled to meet up with them. We reached a lodge and met the group it was three New Yorkers: Yali, Lina and Tanya and Cornelia from Switzerland. And then there was Sami of course, our guide. We immediately digged the guy, 50 years of age with a soul like a 30 year old and a big rasta hat on his head. Rasta man through and through and sure enough his joints were a constant companion. Despite his apparent state of mind he proved to be an amazing guide. He literally lives and breaths the jungle and was so knowledeable and passionate about everything. As Sami says he does not read or write but he knows everything about the jungle. His favourite saying was ´liven yourselves up´ and Sami made sure our trip became a party trip as well! He made sure a couple of bottles of cachasa (Brazilain booze) accompanied us at all times - to drink straigtht or make Caprinihas with! We also got a second guide with us who navigated the boat who was a native and also full of knowledge about the jungle. As a matter of fact as we passed his house on the our boat on the way to our lodge to meet everyone he called us to pull in and in his hand he had a two meter long anaconda which he had just killed as it tried to eat his chickens. The dead anaconda became a passanger on our boat so that we could show the others. Although it was dead lying behind us it was still pretty scary to see an anaconda so close up!
Sami- Rasta man
After lunch in the lodge we went off in our boat. It was meant that we would camp in the jungle the first night but on the Amazonas river it started lashing rain so we pulled in at a house which was also a shop to hide from the rain. As we were getting off the boat K managed to drop the camera in the boat which was full of water....That was the end of that camera. We had hardly begun our trip in the jungle and we were without a camera! Luckily enough Lina takes thousands of pictures and everyone offered to share their pictures with us. So the pictures from the jungle that you see here are ones that Lina has kindly shared with us! Luckily she was a great photographer with a better camera than us!
As we were waiting for the rain to stop we decided to fish for piranhas. After MANY attempts (those feckers are amazing at eaing your bait without you noticing) it was pretty amazing to see them up close and boy do they have sharp teeth (which Martin would later know all about).We brought them with us as they were going to be our dinner later on. Eating piranhas in the jungle caught by ourselves, pretty cool eh.
Piranhas- Martin is soon to experience their sharp teeth!
As we were on our way to our camp in the boat the rain would not stop so the decision was made to change our plans and go and stay with a native family. We arrive at the house which is built on stilts in the middle of the jungle and has no walls only a roof. The man of the house had somethig like 20 grand kids and 7 great grandkids and he was only in his 50s. Guess they start pretty young in the jungle. We were surrounded by their kids, their pets and all the bugs you can imagine. Our bedroom was in their kitchen/sittingroom/room for the pets ect. and we set up our hammocks (hammocks were to be our beds for the next few days) in a row with mosqito nets hanging over them. To say that the place was full of bugs is an understatement. Our stay in the jungle was to become a constant battle against bugs and hence our beautiful attire. We did our best to cover our entire bodies with clothes and bug spray despite the ridiculous heat. In the native house we had a lovely chicken stew that one of his daughters made (it tasted lovely but the way it was prepared would not pass any hygenic standards) and we made loads of Caprinihas. Surprise, surprise K was the appointed bartender! When it was time to go to bed we were all pretty scared. The noises of the jungle are something else. It is impossible to go asleep (apart if you are called Yali who falls asleep EVERYWHERE) and added to that we were trying to get used to sleeping in hammocks (they are not as comfy as they first seem if you dont sleep in them properly). The result was little sleep and all of us were very jumpy. It did not help that one of the pet dogs (who was incredibly smelly) decided to park themsleves under Martin first and then Karolina. Everytime (and it happened a lot) he decided to shake himself and he brushed off against us and K was sure she had a jaguar under her hammock but was to afraid to look. Martins need to go to the bathroom in the wild in the middle of the night would turn out to be one of the scariest things he has ever done (although he of course wont admit it). We all of course survive the night and are happy when it is getting bright and time to leave the hammocks.
Karolina the Capriniha bartender
Our bedroom at the native house
The lenghts we went to avaoid mosquito bites! Very fashionable
The famous goat!
After a nice breakfast we get to explore the area around the house. We get the shock of our lives when we see that one of the family animals is a goat which has balls the size of a football...no kidding. It is so unbeleiveable that we have to show the picture below. Very intimidating for the male members of the group!! We also get to taste fresh brazil nuts and loads of other fruits from the jungle.
The agenda was to trek in the jungle that day. We get on the boat and find our make our way to the place were we are to set up camp in the jungle. After that we set off on our trekking...it is an amazing experience to trekk through thick jungle forest. We see loads of wonderful plants, rubber trees, drink fresh water out of logs and then there are of course the animals (mostly insects though). We see deadly spiders ect. Sami leads the way with his machete and he is so knowledgeable - it is amazing. As amazing as it is there are so many mosquitos. Despite the heat (oh my GOD) we are all coverd up as if it is freezing. By the end of the trekk we are all so sticky and disgusting and we decide to go swiming in the Amazon river. Sami assures us it is safe to swim in the middle and that no caimans (alligators) nor pirnahas should bite us...It is fair to say that we are all sceptical but the heat is more overpowering than our fear of being eaten. The water is really warm and we feel a lot better after! We sit on the boat in the middle of the amazon and watch the sun go down- it is so beatiful and we are all in awe. As we return to the camp with the boat it has become dark (scary) and we set about making a BBQ for our chicken. Sami makes us the tastiest BBQed chicken ever and we spend the night at the camp eating and drinking A LOT of Caprinihas. We also get entertianed (more than usual) by Sami who sings and dances reggae style to us and we have a great laugh. We all fall into bed (eh hammocks) pretty drunk and this helps most of us have a reasonable sleep that day.
Trekking in the jungle
Karolina drinking water from logs
Tarzan Where is Jane?
Martin and a Mantis
Our camp in the jungle
Our camp 2
View over the Amazonas river
After having surrvied one night in the jungle there is a lot of debate wheather we should sleep another one in the jungle or at a lodge. Lina and Tanya do not want to tempt fate and think that having survived one night is enough. The rest of us want to brave it and we win. It is decided to go deeper into the jungle and we take our boat on a long ride. We all end up being very happy we made the decision because the nature changes a lot the deeper in you get. It gets denser and we need the machetas to get by with the boat. It really starts looking like the jungle we all have in our minds! On our way there we decide to stop of for lunch at this place which has lodges and a restaurant. We are met by the friendlies man who looks incredibly Irish but turns out to be Brazilian of German decent.He cant do enough for us and offers us the most exotic and amazing fruits imaginable. He cooks sour fish for us (delicious) and shows us around. He has wild pigs (funny looking things) and he is friends with the monkeys that live around his land. The monkeys (they are adorable) come down to say hi and also take the opportunity to steal some of our food! As we are very warm and still have the dip from the day before fresh in mind we explore the opportunity of having another dip. Our host who has a little boat house by the river were you can fish and swim says that there is no problçem swimming. As we also fish piranhas from the boat house we are a bit dubious but are assured it is ok to swim despite the plentifulness of piranhas. Cornelia goes in first and swims around for ages- no bother on her. Martin braves it and jumps in next. He is only in the water for about 10 seconds when his he starts screaming that something is biting his ass- twice! His face goes into panic as he is thinking that he is being eaten by at least two piranahs and is probably surrounded by more. As he tries to swim in he screams that they are stuck to is ass and wont go away. We all watch him stunned (so stunned in fact that noone thinks to help him out of the water) and as he gets out he screams they are stuck to me, they are stuck to me! As he comes up there is no fish stuck to his ass but Martin starts ripping of his swimming shorts in panic to look what it is. One of us goes to call Sami and Martin is shouting for us to see what is on his as. As he is doing this Lina (as considerable as she is gets some very funny pics of Martin baring his ass). As we have alook there are two red marks on his butt and although he is in pain there are def no fish there. Sami takes a look and goes off to get natural medicine stuff which he puts on it. After a while Martin calms down as the pain subsides and he realises he is alive. There is no resolving of what really did bite him. A rational explination later was that there was a vicious ant in his shorts that was not happy to go swimming. Despite this we definitely will be sticking to the story about the piranhas. errrrmmmm....
On the river
Our friend, the monkey
Martin after the attack by the Piranhas!
Needless to say the was no more swimming after that. We said goodbye to our incredibly generous host and went on our way to set up camp. Thinking of it even gives us butterflies even now. We prepared our camp and as it was getting late we all opted to get into the boat to see the sunset over the Amazonas once more from the boat. Again it was fab. Next was to go hunting for Caimans which can only really be done at night as there eyes shine bright red as a torch shines them in the eyes. In the pitch black we silently and slowly bring our boat along the shore using the torch to find caimans. We sometimes bring the boat into the grass in the water and if it was not for the fact that we were assured they cant jump into the boat we would shot ourselves. Well we did anyway! We see so many caimain hiding along the shore line. Sami tries to catch them several times and they caimans of all sizes manage to escape. Finally we get a baby caiman and Sami brings it into the boat. To stun him he bangs his head of the boat and we all get to hold a live caiman in our hands! Only thing is that it turns out as Sami releases him that the bang to his head was to hard and he drops dead like as stone in the warter. We feel awful for having killed an animal for our tourist pleasure but Sami assures us that there are plenty of caimans in the waters and not to be upset....he would be dinner for his friends....
Navigating on the Amazonas
Looking for Caimans as it is getting dark
We get back to camp and make food once again. We BBQ our fish catch (including piranahas) and make a gorgeous chicken stew. This is again accompanied by plenty of Caprinhas and although we all go to bed well on again it is not enough for most of us as the sounds in the jungle are incredible. Most of us have a pretty bad and jumpy sleep as we all hear so many sounds (Jaguar and baboons most notably). Maybe it is just because we know we are so much deeper in or maybe it is all Samis jaguar stories that scare us- dont know. Also, our guides point out to us what are jaguar and baboon noises in the distance. Yikes! It also turns out that a flock of large monkeys pass by our camp during the night by foot as well as swinging by the trees. It also does not help that Yali who on each night sleep at the end of the camp wakes up and as he looks to his right where everyone slept the night before he sees no one and starts shouting for us really loud! Where are you guys, where are you!!! He scares the crap out of us! When we wake up the next day we are all pretty tired...little sleep and a lot of Caprinhas over the last few days!
Sami uses the machete to get through
We have breakfast early and set off to look for sloths (slow moving coala look alikes that climb in the trees) on the river. Sami is prepared to climb up and bring one down for us but the only ones we see is very high up and it looks lethal to climb up . We discourage Sami as we dont want to be responsible for his death (and the others in the group had already seen one the night before we arrived). We set of to go and look for dolphins. We had already seen plenty in the distance but we were brought to this place were there were loads of them . First we only see the little grey dolphins swimming all around us but finally we get to see the beatiful pink dolphins which are very special for the Amazon. We are mezmerized by the gorgeous dolphins and spend a good hour just watching them and (trying) to get good pics.
After this we return to the lodge where we finish off by joining a couple of other groups and compare stories and have a couple of beers and lunch. We leave the jungle with them most amazing experiences and images that we will always remember. Also we are sad to say goodbye to our guides, especially Sami who has left such an impression on us. Our group was great fun and it turns out that it is only Cornelia we need to say goodbye to for now as the rest of the group (Yali, Lina and Tanya) become our travel buddies for the next couple of weeks.