Hello everyone,

Paul was supposed to be writing this but it would have been really short. So I have taken over!! 

Anyway picking up where we left off:- 

After the Inca Trail we had two days in Cusco which we spent sorting out our laundry!! We should have spent the second day in bed - having been ripped off for our laundry we tried to do some ironing. And the first pair of trousers that Paul did he burned (and it was one of mine!!) Not so cool when I have such a limited wardrobe!! So the rest of that morning we spent looking for a patch, which we couldnīt get. Finally went to a material shop and bought some material - a long & difficult process when you donīt speak Spanish. We were then sent to the local market (where no tourist dare ventures!!) where they have women on antique sewing machines tailoring!! Eventually got my trousers fixed. There were a series of other mishaps but the day ended nicely - we met up with Andrew & Lisa from the Inca trail and had a lovely dinner at a nice restaurant. 

The following morning we left bright and early for Puerto Maldonada to the Rain Forests in deepest darkest Peru!! (No Paddington anywhere in sight!!) When we arrived at the airport we were taken on a 2 hour boat ride down the river to Posada Amazonas. Saw lots of birds and turtles on the way down and loads of beautiful butterflies! The rooms at the lodge were interesting to say the least - Iīm not sure you can call them rooms - we had no doors or windows - just a mosquito net around the bed for protection from the wild animals (not including Paul!!). There was no electricity or hot water - the shower consisted of a plastic curtain with a water pipe over head!! There were the most enormous lizards I have ever seen just outside our balcony (room!!). 

Anyway after lunch we were taken to an Indian slash & burn farm which was quite interesting. There were loads of varieties of banana, papaya, potatoes, avocados etc. Dad they had the small sweet bananas that we get in India - yummy!! There was a troop of army ants going through the house - but the Indians like them as they cleared a wasps nest and get rid of other insects. And they generally only stay a couple of hours!! 

Got back to the lodge in the dark - great fun showering and getting ready for dinner!! Met up with an American couple who were going to the Research centre with us the following morning. The food was good and the American couple had bought a cheap bottle of rum ($3!!) - so we had a couple of drinks with our meal. After dinner watched a video - David Attenborough!!! I think it was to help you sleep!! 

When we got back to our balcony that night it was amazing how different it was at night - there were all sorts of interesting noises!! 

The following morning we were up at 4.00am to go visit a Lake. Got on a canoe with Americans and an Israeli (noisy!!) couple - not too helpful when viewing wild life!! Anyway still managed to see the giant otters and loads of different birds. Paul saw a caimen (I figure my mum is preying too hard for my safety so I see no dangerous animals!!). Also there were piranah in the lake - so didnīt swim!! This was followed by a 4-5 hour canoe trip down the Tambopata river to the Research centre. Other than the research centre there are no other people/ buildings for miles around!

The Research Centre (TRC) was a lot more intimate than the Lodge - there were only the 4 of us, our guide and 3 researchers staying at the centre that night. After we got to the Centre we had lunch and went for a short stroll through the jungle!! (about 2 hours!!)We were visited by a beautiful macaw at lunch time (apparently TRC raised a few macaws that would have died otherwise - called Chicos) and they often come back to visit. Especially if there are pancakes on the menu!! On the walk saw some monkeys and lots more birds!! Got back in time for a cold shower (which was wonderful as we were always hot and sweaty after our little walks!!). After an intimate dinner had an early night. 

Up at 4.30am next morning to see macaws on the Colpa (clay lick). Got to the Colpa by 5.45am. It was just 7 of us. We sat on a log and watched the birds come from all directions, mainly in pairs. It was truly amazing - soon all the trees were covered with the beautiful plumage - green & red, blue & yellow. Apparently the macaws come here because a lot of the fruit they eat is toxic and the clay lines their stomach and acts as a detoxifier. As we sat there we saw a group of monkeys and a capivari?ŋ( the biggest rodent in the world). Then eventually the macaws started to circle and when they were happy that there were no predators in the area they landed - a true spectacle!! There must have been between 200-300 macaws that morning of 11 different species (as per the researchers!). During the feasting one of the Chicos landed on the scope next to us - just to say hello!! That was cool. 

After that amazing start got back to TRC by 7.30am for breakfast. We then had a long walk at 9.30am for 3 hours!! Didnīt see anything!! The jungle was really quiet that morning - almost eerie!! Got back for lunch. The cook got back with a 3 ft catfish from the pond nearby - it was huge!! As the afternoons are very hot it was supposed to be siesta time - and it was lovely!!Spent a lot of time in hammocks!! Had another trip at 4.30pm to the fish pond. Saw a snake as we were getting ready to go. It had gone after a squirrel (I had thrown some nuts out earlier!!). The squirrel got away just, but then a hawk went for the snake. It was amazing to watch nature take its course!! Had to go on the canoe to a muddy island to get to the fish pond. Paul saw another caimen!! The fish pond was lovely - very peaceful. Saw more birds - kingfishers etc. Got back to TRC in time for dinner. Over dinner discussed the recent jaguar sightings!! After dinner Paul & I went for a night walk with Edwin (Americans were too tired or scared!). That was interesting - totally different to the day. A lot slower as you have to look around you constantly. Paul jumped a couple of times - that was just from the flying insects - itīs a good thing he didnīt see/ hear the bat that flew past his ear!! Saw lots of spiders and 3 frogs and heard lots of noises!! Paul spent more time checking behind him (looking for the jaguar!!) We had actually taken trail C - which was the jaguar trail - not too clever at night!! Just as we started the walk Paulīs torch went out!! That was fun - Edwin saved the day and replaced the bulb - a real feat in the dark in the jungle!! Got back 1.5-2 hours later and collapsed into bed (after a cold shower). We were totally eaten by mosquitoes even though we had worn long sleeved shirts and repellant throughout!! 

Up at 4.30am next morning - Paulīs face covered in bites!! (even his lip!!).. Had been joined by 3 more people the previous day. We all headed to the colpa getting there by 5.45am and there was already a group of people there!! They were a group of Israelis that had come down on the river and were camping close by - they were doing a documentary for Israeli TV. On their second day out their boat capsized and all their equipment was soaked - they looked a really sorry bunch. Suddenly we were grateful for our balcony rooms and cold showers!! That morning there was between 30-40 people. As we arrived there was a short sharp shower so we were all wet. The macaws circled for a while but suddenly they all flew off. Not one bird landed!! The researchers said it might have been the rain or a predator. We were really lucky the previous day!! The people camping were not even staying another night!! 

Got back to TRC and went to the palm swamp. Were given boots - just as well!! Still managed to get covered in mud!! Not too pleasant. It was a very quick visit - once we got there had to climb a tower (with climbing equipment for safety!!). It was erected by the BBC when they did a documentary on macaws. The blue & Yellow macaws breed in dead palm trees - it would be really amazing in the breeding season watching them take care of their young. As it was we got to the top, saw the nests and were surrounded by sweat bees!! Not too pleasant!! Headed back to TRC for a 3 hour canoe ride back to Posadas.. Went past Israeli group - it turned out they hadnīt got permission to be in the reserve and police were waiting for them downstream!! Got to Posadas 3.30pm. Paul & I did a 1.5 hour walk to a viewing tower overlooking the forest canopy - truly amazing. After dinner went straight to bed. Had noisy American neighbours and a family of cockroaches sharing our bathroom!! We no longer worried about mosquitoes - at TRC there was a white variety which can cause sores which get bigger and do not heal!! The mosquitoes at Posadas arenīt even malarial apparently!! 

Up early next morning - Americans up at 4.00am!!! We had breakfast and left for Puerto Maldonado by 5.45am - 2 hour canoe trip!! It was nice to get back to Cusco and civilisation. Even called Mum up to wish her HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! 

That afternoon went to Pisaac ruins and market. Had a 2 hour walk following the trail at the ruins. Also got our washing done!! Went to an asian restaurant for dinner craving spicy food - yuck!!!! What a disappointment that was!!

Next morning up at 7.00am (a lie in!!) and left for Arequipa later that morning. 

But weīll give you those details in another e-mail as my back and fingers ache now!!! Hope everyone is well. We have had hardly any mail from our friends!! Come on guys - it would be nice to hear from you. Thank goodness for our families!!

Take care, love and hugs, 

Pip & Paul