Written by Maxime Chauveau, Volunteer at Experiential Learning Programme
How can I tell you about this adventure? Hmmm… Going to a primary forest, getting caught in a tropical storm, seeing trees so high that you can’t see the canopy, so wide that it would take 20-30 people to go around them; seeing giant otters, snakes, monkeys… and flora so dense that you will lose your head.
But let’s start at the beginning!
I’ll meet you at MLC, the starting point of this adventure. Accompanied by Thomas, the leader of the expedition, Jesús, his assistant, Bertha, our cook, Nefi, our guide, and some friends. You will board a boat, about 20 meters long and 2 meters wide. It is specially conceived to cross the lowlands, a structure made of wood and tarpaulins to protect you from the rain and sun.
Here you go on this boat, accompanied by this team that will become your family!
Like every Odyssey, everything starts with the best. A sunny morning, but not too sunny. The temperature is very pleasant. And here you are going down the river…
Meander after meander, you will observe this nature which becomes more and more wild. Your eyes scan the horizon, looking for the slightest movement. Obviously, it is your guide who finds the animals, monkeys in the trees, caiman on the sandbanks, birds at 3 o’clock.
As we go along, the sky gets overcast, the clouds get thicker and thicker.
And here comes a tropical storm, as if mother nature is testing you. The wind rises, the river becomes agitated. Lightning flashes across the sky. Thunder rumbles on your left and dies on your right. You have never heard or seen this before. The rain comes and becomes heavy, the roof is no longer enough to protect you. You are soaked, understanding that here nature is stronger than in our cities.
But don’t worry, after the rain comes the good weather. As if to reward you, nature lets you enter its lair. After 6 hours by boat, you will arrive at the crossing of 2 rivers, and immediately, you will be struck by the differences of these two rivers. The forest, bigger, more majestic; you will raise your eyes to look much higher, so high that at the end of the day you will have a sore neck. The river is calmer but wider, a clay color contrasting with the gray you have seen the last 6 hours.
Less than an hour later, you arrive at the official entrance of the Parque National del Manu. A building on stilts, made of wood and bamboo, will welcome you. Soon, meals and rest will be yours. You will discover the history and the diversity of this park.