Apparently Elvis sells shoes in the Amazon, if you believe he’s still alive and kicking somewhere.
You can find just about anything in the muddy jungle frontier city of Puerto Maldonado, located at the confluence of the Tambopata and Madre de Dios rivers.
Puerto Maldonado is the gateway to many nature reserves in the Amazon jungle. Most people fly into Puerto Maldonado from Cuzco or Lima, and you can feel the steamy tropical heat as soon as you step off the plane.
The airport is a big warehouse-type building where your luggage is off-loaded through an opening in the wall. You pile onto a colourful bus hung with lots of national-team dingle-dangles from the rearview mirror for the short drive into the main part of the small city, where you can grab any last-minute supplies (rain poncho, bag of fresh brazil nuts or a sack of potatoes, anyone?) for your jungle adventure.
Finally there’s an even shorter ride down to the edge of the Madre de Dios River for your 1-2 hour excursion up the murky river waters by motorized canoe to your jungle lodge.
I love all forms of transportation! Our tour of Peru and Bolivia featured many different kinds, and this excursion was one of my favourites.
Along the river you see shore birds, people who live in the jungle going into the city or returning home by small canoe, tiny huts snugged into the thick greenery, the odd abandoned canoe (leaky, one presumes), gold miners dredging in small barges, and a wall of vegetation all around you. No monkeys swinging from the trees, or humanoid creatures lurking in the waters (for all fans of old sci-fi B movies), unfortunately, but the trip is fascinating nonetheless.
Finally you arrive at your lodge, set into the lush jungle vegetation. You get off at a tiny pier and climb up steps to a raised walkway designed to accommodate the annual flooding in the Amazon Basin. This is your introduction to your home for the next part of your jungle adventure…but more on that in another post!