Article and Photos By: Rodney L Dodig
The flight taking us to Iquitos and the beginning of our jungle adventure was late, very late. A 6 AM flight finally made it off the runway at Lima’s Jorge Chavez airport at 4 PM. Then, we had a another rain storm delay at the airport in Tarrapoto, which caused us to arrive even later than anticipated. It was 8 PM when we checked into the hotel in Iquitos, time for some dinner, a shower, and a good night’s sleep before we headed down the amazon the next morning.
Early the next morning, I looked down the long steep flight of stairs that lead to the boat with some trepidation. The Amazon Queen sat on the water at the bottom of those
stairs waiting to take us down the Amazon to the Explorama Lodge named “Cieba Tops” where we would be spending three days and two nights. For some reason, I kept thinking of “Murder on the Nile” as I looked at the boat. After the delayed flight getting into Iquitos, it was nice starting our adventure down the Amazon Jungle on time. Water and air are the only ways to reach Iquitos, a city full of “Tuk Tuks,” which reminded me of Bangkok. Our guide from Explorama had picked us up at the Apart Hotel and brought us to the dock. He was a nice young man named Abelardo Flores Hidalgo from a small town on the Amazon called Indiana.
The porters grabbed our luggage and started hauling them down to the boat. We followed, although not as quickly. Boarding, we settled onto the top deck so we could admire the passing views as the Amazon Queen pulled away from the dock. Abelardo quickly explained that we were not on the Amazon River yet. This area of water was an Oxbow Lake, formed when the strong currents of the Amazon sliced through an area of land and bypassed this curve in the river. We passed rusting and rotting boats along with ships of all types, as well as ships at dock either loading or unloading cargo. Abelardo patiently explained how difficult it was to get anything in or out of Iquitos and the jungle in general. Sometimes it could take months for something to arrive.
A short time later, we approached the entrance to the mighty Amazon River. The waters that flow here start in the mountains around Arequipa, far to the south in Peru. As we passed through the entrance, small two man motorized canoes herded logs felled in the jungle into the lake for sale. Other small craft carried people and cargo, some of them barely cresting the water.
The Amazon is big, a fact probably already known by all of you. The river was at its
lowest and it still was so wide that binoculars were needed to see anything in detail on either side. Occasionally you would see dolphins playing in the current. Not the legendary pink ones but the regular bottle nosed type. Children played in the shallow waters along the shore and ocean worthy boats cruised down the deep middle. Small villages and homes dotted the shores, high up on the banks to avoid being swept away when the river rose to its highest levels. The 90-minute cruise passed quickly and soon we were docking at the pier of the Explorama lodge called “Cieba Tops.”
There are several Explorama Lodges down the river with varying degrees of comfort. Those descriptions range from “Luxury” to “romantic kerosene lamp lighting and mosquito netting.” Cieba Tops was the one touted as being luxury.
We exited the boat and once again, I stood on the dock looking at another intimidating set of stairs, these leading up. Abelardo told us to look for the high water marks as we took the stairs up to the lodge. It was quite a distance before we came to the first one. Reaching the top a little breathless (well, at least I was breathless) we headed to the main building to receive our room assignments and key while the porters carried and delivered our luggage. The main Lodge was very nice indeed. It had a nice communal area with comfortable couches and a small gift shop. Further back were the bar and dining room where we would eat our meals. Right outside this building was the Jacuzzi, water slide and pool. Another covered platform held hammocks and tables for relaxing and watching the monkeys come in for bananas.
They assigned cabin 703 to me and my friends were in 701, the second half of the duplex cabin. Entering my room, I had to admit that for a stay in the jungle, this most definitely qualified as luxury. The rooms were large and air-conditioned. The bathroom gigantic by Peruvian standards and I swear you could put 10 people into my shower. The beds were large and comfortable with nice pillows, blankets, and sheets. WiFi was also available for those who absolutely cannot be without their laptop. I happen to be one of those.
Abelardo had told us we have some down time, about an hour and then they would serve lunch in the dining room. After that, another rest and relaxation period and we would head down river to a Yagua Village for a jungle walk and visit to the tribe. I used the downtime to unpack and use the WiFi to
check E-mails and update my website with a few details and let people know we had made it.
Part 2 will deal with the time we spent at the lodge and the activities arranged for us. Contact information is below.
Amazon Explorama Lodges
Phone – (51-65) 25 3301