The road on the last stretch to Puerto Maldonado in Peru is good. Border crossing was easy. Getting passport stamped was quick and orderly. Processing car import paper took more time as only one officer was on duty. And no inspection of the camper at all. As we were not in a hurry, we slowly drove through the hills to town. Only small farms exist here and most of the jungle is still intact. Along the road there is also much more fruit for sale. Puerto Maldonado was established for the rubber trade around 1902. Now it concentrates on small gold mines along the rivers into the jungle, agriculture and jungle tourism. It started growing rapidly with the arrival of the Carratera Oceanica to the Brazilian coast and the completion of the bridge over the wide Rio Madre de Dios some 6 years ago.
There are several nature reserves around town and tour agencies who organise trips up the rivers to them. Often such a trip includes an overnight stop in a jungle lodge. We opted for a one day jungle excursion. With a motor boat we were brought to the start of the trail through the jungle to lake Sandoval. In some stretches you walk on a boardwalk while at others you slugged through the mud. Apparently these stretches are there so the animals can cross the path. Along the path the guide points out the various trees and birds (if spotted). There are a large amount of palm trees of various types in the jungle. I suspect this is because it was an old river bed which is slowly filling up. Therefore the jungle development is not old and it is still very wet.
In the swamp before the lake, you board a canoe and first paddle through the forest which than opens up into the lake. When we paddled across the lake we had a good downpour (rain) but fortunately it cleared so that we can have a dry packed lunch (rice with chicken, rolled in a banana leaf) at one of the jungle lodges along the lake. We were not lucky enough to see the large otter or any caiman during our visit. We did however see a fair amount of birds and monkeys.
The first night we slept in the camper near a hostel. It was fine for a night but not long-term. We therefore moved to Anaconda lodge with wifi and swimming pool. This lodge is located on a small piece of jungle surrounded by the town. It was quiet before but now the noise of the town comes through especially during the weekend and New Year celebration. When there is no modern noises, we are serenaded by cricket sound and other animals and bird songs which we never heard of. Since it was not busy the owner gave us a luxury jungle bungalow complete with large screened veranda and private bathroom for the price of a normal room. The owners wife and daughter come from Thailand. So several evenings we enjoyed lovely Thai food. While waiting for the spare parts to arrive we hang around in the lodge reading, writing and watching YouTube or Rudy swims a few laps in the swimming pool and gets subsequently sunburned while drying up in the chair.
We waited for some 6 days for the spare parts to arrive. They were sent from Germany on the 28th of December and arrived in Lima on the 31st. Luisabel could only post them after New year on Tuesday 2/1 but Wednesday afternoon we could already pick them up. Rudy went straight to a garage and after 3 hrs of struggling they had put it all together again.
To celebrate this feat we had another lovely Thai meal in the restaurant of the loge. Tomorrow we finally climb the mountains to Cusco.
Ps. This seems to be our pattern. Every time we entered a new country we stayed in the first town for several days because of camper problem. Buenos Aires (Agentina), Foz do Iguzu (Brazil) and now Puerto Maldonado (Peru). HOPEFULLY this is the last time.