Gozalandia Waterfall…If You Can Find It, You’ll Love it!

Road trips are often an adventure. You can discover great places, and have interesting experiences along the way to your intended destination. This is our road trip to Gozalandia waterfall in San Sebastian, Puerto Rico.

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Gozalandia Waterfall

We leave San Juan bright and early, the whole family packed into the car like sardines. Happy ones, though. We have food and music and a sense of adventure. Our nephew and his girlfriend are in the car in front of us, leading the way. Somehow things go awry west of Arecibo. We should be heading inland towards San Sebastian, but we seem to be going somewhere else. We follow along until we realize that we are definitely lost. But where we are lost is amazing. We have somehow ended up in Bosque Estatal De Guajataca, a beautiful forest with a tiny winding road leading through the trees. We even find a tower to climb to further enjoy the view. Our poor young tour guides are getting stressed, but they shouldn’t be. This was worth getting lost for!IMG_0442

We eventually find ourselves on a familiar road and make it to San Sebastian and Gozalandia Waterfall. There is a parking lot where we pay $5 to park. We grab our towels and cooler full of beer and snacks and make our way down the decidedly treacherous trail to the bottom of the falls. It is muddy, steep and slippery, but manageable. It’s worth all the effort. The waterfall is beautiful, maybe 50 to 60 feet high, and cascades down over the rocks, creating hidden caves. It doesn’t take us long to drop our gear and jump into the cool water. We scramble up the rocks on the left of the waterfall and creep behind the pounding water. It’s very thrilling. From there, we watch as the bravest people jump from high up on the wall into the pool. Exploring the area, we find a small cave to the right of the falls that we can swim into. It’s small, only big enough for a few people at a time. I can’t convince some of our group to try; it just looks too scary. It isn’t a long swim to the air pocket inside, though. I’m able to grab my daughter’s hand and pull her into me. It’s a day of fun swimming, jumping and exploring.

We find out later that there is actually another waterfall farther upstream, but by then everyone is too tired to explore. Apparently there is a rope you can use to swing out into the deep pool. Next time!

Helpful info:

Obviously, I cannot give great directions here! I have researched online and found these GPS coordinates, which everyone seems to use. Try them and see –  18.358268,-66.986489

There are a lot of hiking trails and caves to explore in Bosque Estatal de Guajataca. That is next on my list when we visit again. If you are going out to Gozalandia, though, you may want to do a little research and make a day of it.

Bring snacks and drinks, as there is nothing at the falls. I don’t go anywhere without my Olympus Stylus Tough Camera, as it is water proof and shock proof. That makes it perfect for these kinds of adventures.

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Jumping off the cliff

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Behind the Falls

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The view from behind the falls

 

 

 

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Frontier Towns

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Aguas Calientes

The evening streets are chaotic. Filled with people, there is not a car in sight. Music blasts out of the open doors and windows of bars. Incredibly aggressive restaurant hosts push menus at your face as you walk by. Everyone wears rugged, hiking and trekking clothes. Many are seriously not clean. This is Aguas Calientes, Peru, the gateway to Machu Picchu.

Inaccessible except by train, which isn’t all that reliable, or by foot via the Inca Trail, Aguas Calientes is a true frontier town. Myself, I’m a mall kind of girl. I live fifteen minutes from anything I could ever need. Convenience is the name of the game. For some reason, though, I love frontier towns. They’re just so different; vibrant, exciting, colorful and unique. The difficulty of getting to them is part of the adventure. Aguas Calientes, Peru; Ushuaia, Argentina; Talkeetna, Alaska; Myvatn, Iceland and other places like them, are some of my favorite stops in our travels.

Aguas Calientes stands out because of how remote it is, how hard it is to get to, and the kind of people who frequent it. The atmosphere is one of relief to have arrived and anticipation of what is to come. Machu Picchu sits high above the town, visible from the window of our little Inn. The imposing mountains are part of the town, closing it in, making it seem even smaller than it actually is. The trekkers who have just arrived from the Inca Trail seem to make their way directly to a bar to celebrate. We ride the train, as our daughter, Rachel, is a bit young for a three-day hike. The train may be easier, but it sure isn’t seamless! The tracks are covered in debris from a recent rock slide so they pack the train passengers into vans to drive beyond the slide. Only, there are no roads. We bump through fields, along streams and even on the tracks. It takes forever and is nausea-inducing. It feels like paradise when Rafael, Rachel and I finally board the train.

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Machu Picchu

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The thing about frontier towns is that they’re there for a reason. Something amazing is nearby. Machu Picchu is an experience of a lifetime. The beauty, the history and the way the sun hits the ruins, makes it almost otherworldly. In Ushuaia, you have the southernmost city in the world, “El Fin del Mundo,” an amazing National Park, and the last port before Antarctica. Talkeetna, a picturesque, fun town, is the staging area for those who are climbing Denali, and a great place to float down the river.  Myvatn has natural hot spas, set in a stark volcanic landscape, far from the crowds of the Blue Lagoon in the south. These towns attract people who are looking for something amazing. And they find it.

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Myvatn hot springs

When we travel, we try to experience as much of a place as we can; its food and drink, music and dance, wildlife and scenery. There are new experiences to be had everywhere, from big cities like Buenos Aires to small islands like Santa Cruz, Galapagos. For us, it’s all about finding out what is unique about a place and then experiencing it. Frontier towns are a great way to do this. They offer up a unique and interesting view of a people and place. Go the extra mile (or hundred) and see for yourselves!

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Myvatn

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Myvatn

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Ushuaia

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The southernmost post office in the world!

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penguins live outside Ushuaia

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overlooking town

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hiking in the National Park

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climbing the glacier above town

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Talkeetna. Ready to float.

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the view on the river

Can I do this adventure?

On a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the most difficult.

Courage Level: 2 Most of these towns are easy enough to get to if you’re willing to drive. Aguas Calientes is the only one you will need to have a bit of fortitude to reach. Anyone can do it, though!

Fitness Level: 2 Again, only Aguas Calientes will make you work a bit. The rest you just need to be willing to drive!

More info?

When we flew into Lima, Peru, we stayed overnight at the airport hotel and then flew out the next morning to Cusco. From there, we were picked up at the airport by a driver from El Albergue Inn, located in a Sacred Valley town called Ollantaytambo. We spent a couple nights there, acclimating to the altitude and enjoying this amazing Incan town. The Inn was just perfect – wonderful people, beautiful room and grounds and delicious food. We walked everywhere we wanted to go. Here is the link: http://www.elalbergue.com/en/

In Aguas Calientes we stayed at the Rupa Wasi Eco Lodge. We loved it there. It is set on a hill, away from the craziness of town, but close enough to walk to everything. It’s rustic, but everything there is! They have a high quality restaurant, with some tasty passion fruit offerings. http://rupawasi.net/ingles/index.html

In Iceland, you will find that once you leave Reykjavik, there are not a lot of choices in where to stay. As you get as far northeast as Myvatn, the options are down to one or two. We chose Skutustadir Farm. The rooms are clean and comfortable, the views are spectacular and breakfast is tasty. http://skutustadir.is/en/

Talkeetna, Alaska had more options for lodging. We stayed at the Denali Fireside Cabins, which was perfect for us. We had room to spread out and relax and the location was great. We even got takeout and ate in the cabin as it was so nice! http://www.denalifireside.com/

Ushuaia, Argentina also has a lot of options for lodging, many with a high price tag, as it is the jumping off point for travel to Antarctica. We chose something that was family friendly and affordable for the five nights we were there. The Tango Bed and Breakfast was great. The room was small, but ensuite. The breakfasts were good and, best of all, there was a tango night! The owner plays the accordion and teaches guests who stay for more than three nights how to tango. There is also plentiful wine! http://www.tangobyb.com.ar/index.php

 

Scotland…Where I Learned to Drink Scotch Like a Pro

wallace1In 2003, Rafael, Rachel (then 4-years old,) her older brother Gabe and I took a journey to Scotland. It was then, and is still, a land of incredible beauty, mysterious lochs and ancient history. We loved everything about it…including the whiskey. It didn’t start out that way, though. Here is the story….

I remember being a little kid and begging and harassing my father for a sip of his whiskey. He didn’t give it often, but when he did, the thrill for me to take a bit of that magical liquid on my tongue was not to be missed. I wanted it because it made my mouth burn and my breath escape in a rush. I hated the taste, though.  Fast forward a couple decades. I tried my husband’s Scotch, with the same result; I hated it and loved it. I just had no appreciation for this so-adult beverage!

Arriving in Edinburgh, Scotland in November, 2003, the air was crisp and cool. It was perfect for walking and exploring or for sitting snug in a pub on the Royal Mile. When we finished our meal and a dessert of sticky toffee pudding (which became a staple of our diet yum,) I asked the bartender to pour me a Scotch that would be good for beginners.  He poured me a 15-year old Dalwhinnie. I tried to take a whiff, like it was a glass of wine, and my eyes watered and I felt like coughing. Okay, we won’t do that for now. I took a small sip. Hey, that wasn’t too bad! I sipped again and again until my first glass of Scotch was history. I loved the burn in my throat and the warmth in my belly. There was hope for me!kinloch3

From Edinburgh, we took a road trip west to the Trossachs and then north through the Highlands. I tried a new Scotch at every stop. As my palate started to acclimate to the new tastes, I was able to expand my repertoire of whiskeys. While staying at the home of Clan MacDonald on the Isle of Skye, I tried Talisker for the first time. Oh, it was like sitting by a peat fire! The smokiness just exploded on my tongue. It’s the only single malt made in Skye, so it was a perfect place to try it. I had a dram before we headed out for some exploring and munro bagging (that would be hiking a hill.) I stayed warm and happy with a bit of Scotch in my stomach.

As we made our way back south after extensively exploring the Highlands, we arrived in Pitlochry and the Edradour Distillery. It was (and still is) the smallest in Scotland and unique in that the Scotch was still made in small batches from a farm distillery. We took an amazing tour that ended with a tasting. When someone asked if they should add water to their single-malt, our guide laughed and said that they had just spent 10 years getting all the water out, don’t pour it back in!

Leaving Scotland, we brought a few bottles of Scotch home with us. In the 11 years since, I have formed a real love affair with the fiery drink. Many cold winter nights will find me curled on the couch with my glass of 16-year-old Lagavulin, or the 10 year-old Talisker or Edradour. Although very different in taste, they all bring my mind back to the lochs and glens, the smoky pubs, the wonderful people and beautiful mountains of Scotland. The best place in the world to learn to love Scotch is in Scotland! I highly recommend it.

Eileen Donan Castle, Scotland

Eileen Donan Castle, Scotland

More info?

We stayed at little B&B’s all around Scotland. As it has been so long, I hesitate to recommend any in particular except for Kinloch Lodge. This is the seat of the Clan MacDonald and an amazing place to stay on Skye. It was the most expensive place we stayed, but the experience was worth it.

http://www.kinloch-lodge.co.uk/

The Edradour Distillery had a great tour if you are going to be in that area.

http://www.edradour.com/

Sharks! A diving adventure in Bora Bora

I peer through the clear, salty water to see my husband descending alone to the sandy bottom 18 meters below. I reach out to grab him, but he slips away too fast. I try to catch his attention but have no way to make noise (I really need to work on that problem!) I put my regulator in my mouth, go down a couple meters and yell. Of course, that doesn’t work. He keeps going. I can clearly see the three huge lemon sharks gliding through the water below him. Can’t he? The Dive Master said anyone who was feeling queasy in the swells could drop down out of them. Rafael should know he didn’t mean to go all the way to the bottom alone!

The rest of us start our descent. It’s a perfect day for a dive; clear, 85 degrees, light wind. The water is 80 degrees, so Rafael and I don’t wear wet suits. The water is clear for at least 18 meters, so I can easily keep an eye on Rafael. He now hovers on the clear, sandy bottom. It’s nice and flat, with no flora around. The two sharks are circling him. He is turning like a wheel, watching them as well. The only sound I hear is my breath through the regulator. It’s very calming, unlike what I’m watching. In. Out. In. Out. When the sound starts to fade away, I pinch my nose with my fingertips and blow hard. Crackle. Pop. My ears clear and I can hear again. I continue my descent and perform an ungainly pirouette, feet first, to see what’s behind me. I see other divers, some small fish and clear water reaching out forever.

In less than a minute, I make it to the bottom. Rafael joins me. I try to give him a wifely disgusted face, but it’s hard in a mask and regulator under water, so I give up and enjoy the view. Sharks! They circle us all now. The lemon sharks are wonderfully ferocious looking, with a blunt head and round eyes, and the much-expected mouth full of teeth. These are big, maybe 3 meters, and have a second dorsal fin. An entourage of small fish stay so close, they look to be attached. The sharks watch us closely but make no aggressive moves. We continue our dive, checking out other interesting flora and fauna. A moray eel sighting is cool, but nothing comes close to the excitement of the sharks. We are at dive site Tapu in Bora Bora, it is the first time we have seen sharks, and it is thrilling!

4 Seasons Dock

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Can I do this adventure?

On a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the most difficult.

Courage Level: 2 – If you scuba dive, this is a great place to do it. The water is clear, warm and full of amazing things!

Fitness Level: 2 – This is no different from any other dive. All diving requires some basic level of fitness, but nothing crazy.

Do I need special gear?

A few bathing suits and lots of sunscreen!

We also brought our snorkel and mask but we dd not need them because they had them in the rooms. Although we didn’t have a camera for our dive, we did bring our Olympus Tough camera to take lots of other underwater pictures. It was great for snorkeling and when we fed the sharks and rays.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA stingray and suckerfish

More info?

We use Top Dive, a PADI 5 Star dive shop. We do a two tank dive, our first to Tapu and our second dive to Toopua. Tapu takes you out of the reef that surrounds Bora Bora so you see bigger sharks, but the sea can get rougher. The other is a beautiful coral garden.  http://www.topdive.com/bora-bora-diving.html#dive-sites

This is not our typical adventure trip. It is the only trip we have taken without our daughter since she was born and it is very luxurious. We still have some great adventures, but it is not exactly budget -friendly as a whole! On that note, we stay at the Four Seasons, which is out of this world. The bungalows over the water, the treatment by staff, the views, the ocean, it is all amazing. For us, probably a once in a lifetime trip!  http://www.fourseasons.com/borabora/

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Rappelling the Waterfall

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAStanding at the bottom of the 80 ft. waterfall I just rappelled, I turn to look up at our 12-year-old daughter Rachel, who is about to make her descent. I know my husband Rafael is up there giving her last-minute pointers. The spray from the falls hits me in the face and chest, so I move back a bit and stand in a sunny spot to warm up. I’m in a shady canyon where it is remarkably cool for a tropical rain forest. I see Rachel as she leans her body out, her feet firmly planted on the slippery rock. She slowly lets the rope out and inches her feet down the rock face, picking up speed as she goes. I lose sight of her as she goes behind an outcropping of rocks, when suddenly she is here.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA “Great job, Rachel,” I yell, over the roar of the waterfall. In seconds she is down, standing in the water next to me. “That was awesome,” she says. I have to agree. We are in the San Salvador rain forest of Puerto Rico on a hiking, rappelling and zip lining adventure, and we are having a blast.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Rafael’s family lives in Puerto Rico, so we come here a lot. We are always trying something different. The great thing about Puerto Rico is that there are so many things to try! Today we are hiking and scrambling up river rocks in the beautiful and secluded mountains of Caguas, former home of the Taino Indians. River hiking is so much fun; we don’t worry about overheating! Sometimes we have to use ropes to pull ourselves up steep rocks. Other times we rely on our rock climbing skills. We hike through water up to our knees, then switch to dry land for a while.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhen we climb to another beautiful area, we are rewarded with a break. There are small waterfalls surrounding us as the people in our group take seats on rocks, enjoy a snack and snap pictures. Everyone is in a great mood, just enjoying the scenery.

After we do the big rappel, we are on the downhill part of our journey. This goes much faster because we get to do it by zip line! Five of them, one 400 feet long. It’s fun, especially as you pick up lots of speed! Poor Rachel doesn’t weigh enough to make hers go fast – she actually has to pull herself to the end on one of them. This is where a little weight is a good thing!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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Once we reach the bottom again, we change out of our wet clothes and enjoy a traditional Puerto Rican meal prepared by the family who owns the land we are enjoying. It’s late for lunch and we have worked up an appetite. We all gather around and devour the delicious fish, rice and beans. This is a great way to end a fantastic adventure!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Can I do this adventure?

On a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the most challenging.

Courage Level: 3 – We rock climb so rappelling is not scary for us, but judging by the other people in the group, it takes a lot of courage to go over the edge of that waterfall! Everyone was very encouraging, though, so people could take their time. It’s all about trusting the equipment. That’s really why we don’t get nervous, even Rachel. We have experience with climbing equipment and trust it won’t break.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Fitness Level: 3 – You need to be in reasonably good shape to do this tour. You don’t need to be a super athlete, but you will be belaying up rocks, hiking in rivers and basically moving uphill at a steady pace for a couple hours.

What do I need to bring?

Wear a bathing suit and light, quick drying clothes.  Do not wear jeans or cotton pants; they will just weigh you down when they get wet. Wear shorts (or capris) that are long enough that the climbing harness will be on the clothing, not your skin, because you will be wearing it for most of the day. You might want a long sleeved shirt for after your rappel. It’s shady in the canyon and being cold is not fun.

You can bring a small backpack with snacks, water and your long-sleeved shirt, if you are bringing it. We only brought one pack, which Rafael and I took turns carrying. The van will stop at Walgreens as a last stop if you need to buy something to eat. Bring a waterproof bag if you need anything like a phone or wallet. You will be very wet. (You can keep things in their van, but if you feel better having them with you, they need to keep dry!)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Wear lace-up sneakers, light-weight hiking shoes or water shoes. They need to be sturdy enough that you won’t be turning your ankles as you traverse the river rocks. We have light–weight travel hiking boots, and we set them out in the sun the next day and they dried. You might not want to plan this adventure for the day before you get on a plane or you will have very wet shoes to take home!

This was a perfect adventure for our Olympus Stylus Tough shockproof and waterproof camera. I carried it down the waterfall with it around my wrist, banging against the rocks the whole way. Then I stood in the water taking pictures. It was great because I never worried about it. I actually carried it like that all day, so I would have it handy when I wanted to take a photo. If you have a camera like that, take it with you!

Any more useful info?

We used Eco-Quest for our tour guide. They were great. Our guides were knowledgeable, friendly and concerned with safety. I liked that they worked with locals in terms of providing lunch for us.

http://ecoquestpr.com/ecoa.html

Spiders, Sharks and a Revelation; an adventure in the Peruvian Amazon

The tarantulas are as big as my hand and creep along the trunk of the tree we are standing beside. Our guide Paul helpfully shines a flashlight on the creatures a couple of feet from my head. It’s our first night at Explorer’s Inn, a research station and guest lodge in the Peruvian Amazon. This is what I’d been dreading since I planned and booked this trip. I love adventure, exploring new places, learning about different cultures. I do not like spiders. At all. Even as a kid, I would make my younger sister come into my room to kill any spider who dared to take up residence. Being in the Amazon, surrounded by the creatures? I was not in my happy place.

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My husband Rafael, our 10-year-old daughter Rachel, and I had arrived in Puerto Maldonado that afternoon from Cuzco. We already hiked around Machu Picchu and attended the Inti Raymi festival so were riding the high of those experiences. We met our guide Paul and drove to Infierno (which means Hell – a not so auspicious start) and then took a motorized canoe for a three-hour trip up the Tambopata River. It was a beautiful ride; exotic and unique. Oropendula birds’ nests hang from trees. Caimans line the banks of the murky river. Turtles rest in the sun with butterflies sipping their tears. Beautiful birds fly overhead.

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The main lodge at Explorer’s Inn

When we arrive at Explorer’s Inn, it’s what I expect from my research, rustic but comfortable enough. There is no electricity in the cabins but there is running water. Yay, showers and toilets! Other lodges I looked at had one wall opened to the outside so that you could be one with nature. Yeah, that’s too much for me. I like screens if they can help keep the spiders out! We settle in, eat dinner at the main lodge and get ready for the night hike.

118_5874 We cover as much skin as possible; long pants, long sleeves, hats and rubber boots that go up to our knees. We also have mosquito netting for our hats. We’re dressed like this whenever we hike in the jungle, no matter how hot it gets. The creepy crawlies here mean business. There is an ant they call the bullet ant because if it bites you it feels like you’ve been shot. In the beginning of our hike my daughter and I are tense and trying to see every direction at once. We’re convinced a spider or something is going to drop down for a bite. Eventually, though, we relax and just start to enjoy how amazing and beautiful the jungle is at night. There are all kinds of chirping, fluttering, croaking and flapping sounds around us. At one point a howler monkey starts roaring and it’s scary. Chills run down my spine (supposedly they used howler monkey calls as the dinosaur sounds in the Jurassic Park movies to give you an idea how scary they are!)

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A Capybara family by the river bank.

The next day we go another few hours up river in the canoe and camp in a tent. We are right in the thick of the jungle. Our guide uses a machete to hack a trail for us to hike. The critters are everywhere, from the wild hogs who scare even our guide to the ants marching up the trees. Spiders, snakes and more insects than I can count surround us. Birds fly overhead and monkeys swing in the trees. Many spiders come out at night so, of course, Rachel, who never does this at home, needs to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. We unzip the tent, bang our boots to make sure nothing is in them and head to the “bathroom” (read that to be a hole in the ground with a sheet around it!) 118_5962On the way back is when I have my revelation. I realize I am actually enjoying myself. The world I am in at that moment is so foreign to me, so amazing and full of life. The sounds, the smells, even the air just feel so alive. I cannot help feeling the same way. This is exactly why we travel and bring Rachel. At that moment there is nowhere else on earth I would rather be. I realize that maybe I’m not as afraid of spiders as I thought. I let it go and open myself up to the wonder around me and it is incredibly liberating. It’s a great lesson for me and Rachel. We are never too old to challenge ourselves and overcome what scares us most. That means I have only one more fear left to conquer. It is something that has been holding Rafael back from doing what he wants to do!118_5976

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Watch out for the Piranha!

I’m from the Jaws generation. I remember seeing that movie and being afraid to swim over the deep end of the pool in swim team practice. Never mind the ocean! My husband has been after me for years to get our scuba diving certification, but I was too afraid to go in the deep ocean. After we return home from Peru, we sign up and get certified. Now, sharks are one of my favorite dive sightings. From Bora Bora to Galapagos, we have been thrilled to watch them glide effortlessly through the water. When I was riding in that canoe in the Peruvian Amazon, I never would have believed it would lead me to the incredible world of scuba diving. Life is such an interesting journey.

Can I do this trip?

On a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the most challenging:

Courage Level: 3 – As we saw, there really wasn’t anything to be afraid of, except for the unknown. However, you need the courage to get there and figure that out!

Fitness Level: 2-3 – You don’t need to be truly athletic to do this trip, but you do need to be able to hike for fairly long periods in high heat. We left for our hikes very early in the morning to beat the worst of the heat, and would walk for 4-5 hours. Luckily, there were not a lot of elevation changes. Afternoons would include rest times.118_5849

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Do I need special gear?

You want light clothes in the jungle, but you need to be covered. I wore a long sleeve shirt from Exofficio that had SPF in it with a bikini top under it – mostly because I could wash the bathing suit out at night and it would dry by morning or at least not feel awful damp. My husband wore a long sleeve shirt with wicking fabric. For pants we used thin, long pants that had bug repellent built in. Use the same clothes every day for hiking. Bring something else to change into when you are done and showered – shorts and workout tops worked for us. They give you high boots to use, but bring sandals for hanging around or to walk to dinner on the boardwalk. You don’t need any nice clothes here.

We always bring our cheap $5 Wal-Mart rain ponchos – we can fit 3 in one day pack easily with all our other stuff.118_5810

We use the Olympus Stylus Tough Camera. This is not the camera for photographers, but it is great for adventurers. It takes great pictures and causes you no worries. You can drop it, get it wet and bang it into trees and rocks. Nothing we have done to it has hurt it yet. It’s perfect for memory photos. Make sure you have enough memory cards because you won’t have your laptop here to upload pictures. They do have a generator for you to charge your camera.

Bring a hat and mosquito net for your head.

Get a small headlamp that will light your way at night. There is no electricity in the cabins. Bring a book for relaxing and a journal for recording your experiences.

A small pocket notebook is helpful on your hikes because your guide is full of information about plants. The Amazon has so many medicinal plants and he will be naming them left and right. You will never remember them all if you don’t write them down!

You will need sunscreen and insect repellent with Deet.

Bring a sense of adventure because you are going to love it!!

Any more useful info? (Always!)118_5779

Here is a link to a blog that has a photo and recording of the call of the Oropendula, a beautiful bird and an amazing nest builder!

http://oropendolaproductions.com/listen/

Here is a link so you can see some of the spiders in the Peruvian Amazon. Luckily, none of these were crawling on us (that we know of!) http://thinkjungle.com/amazon-rainforest-life/amazon-rainforest-spiders/

We stayed at the Explorer’s Inn, where we did a 5 day/ 4 night package. One night was three hours farther down river in a tent near a clay lick that macaws visit in the morning. We highly recommend this as we saw a lot of animals while so far out in the jungle. It was just my husband, daughter and I, and our guide, the cook and porters.  http://www.explorersinn.com/#

I mention Inti Raymi in my article. Inti Raymi is the Incan festival to the Sun God that is held in Cusco on June 24, the Summer Solstice. It is a huge event and well worth attending in Cusco, which was the Capital of the Incan Empire. The party goes on for days, culminating on the 24th with a ceremony at Saqsayhuaman, a Sun Temple about 2 km walk from the Old Town. Here is a link to learn about it:

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Inti Raymi

http://www.amautaspanish.com/destinations/learn-spanish-in-peru/peru-overview/festivals/inti-raymi-149.html

In Cusco, where we were prior to our trip into the jungle, we stayed at Second Home B&B, which we highly recommend. It is in the old section of the city, in walking distance to everything.  The prices were extremely reasonable, the rooms were very comfortable, they had WIFI, and breakfast was included. You can read about them on TripAdvisor.  http://www.secondhomecusco.com/en/bed-breakfast-cusco

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Second Home B&B

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