Manu National Park | Deepest, Darkest Peru

Updated: Nov 10, 2018

28th October - 1st November 2018

It was like stepping into all my favourite childhood books and films at once: The Edge Chronicles: Beyond the Deepwoods, Lord of the Rings, Fern Gully, Avatar…

The Amazon Jungle is an absolute dream land where trees can walk and Tarantulas have pink toes. The sound of insects ripple through the forest and Macaws screech overhead. Palm Trees have pot bellies and ethereal Dragonflies look like finely spun silver. Grasshoppers turn into white discs as they leap from leaf to leaf and Squirrel Monkeys whistle through the canopy.

There is nowhere on earth like it and I am pining to go back. I adore it's rawness and inaccessibility and the dangers and mysteries it holds. I could write a million and one things about this place, but instead I'm going to sum it up in a few key moments:

The first night in Rainforest Lodge was deafening as I experienced a true thunderstorm for the first time ever. The thunder felt like it was splitting the earth in two and my heart raced as flash after flash of lightning blinded me in my bed.

Thunderstorm number two, was on a boat, on the Madre de Dias river, during lunch. We'd just had the most beautiful time in the natural, Hot Springs at which point the rain came down and the thunder rolled in. We were dry and warm on the boat eating the best ceviche I've ever had, when we looked up to see a bolt of lightning blow up a tree on the opposite shore. I could have cried at the spectacle.

We spent a night in a Camouflage House which looked out over a mammal, Clay Lick (mammals come from all over the jungle to get the nutrients from the clay). Situated deep in the jungle from our second camp, Bonanza Lodge, we got there after 2 hours of walking and wildlife spotting, and settled in (joined by a divine lightning bug). We each had a mattress and took it in turns as 'lookout’ to check for any mammals. When it was my turn, my heart leapt as a Tapir (related to the Rhino) wandered into the swampy area. She was huge, elegant and completely beautiful. It was magic and I didn't want to leave the place come the morning.

After night fell on our third night, we headed into the darkness with torches for a Night Walk. So. Many. Insects. The spiders were brilliant: they ranged from giant, Scorpion Spiders to the prettiest, long-legged silver spiders… We saw Leaf Katydids (fave insect ever) alongside a Pink-Toed Tarantula and a beautiful Yellow Clown Tree Frog.

On the penultimate day, we got to see the Jungle Condor: King Vulture. There were three or four of them and, always last to join the feast, they towered over the Black Vultures. They busied themselves on the riverbank but escaped to the trees as we approached. They were fascinating, with big clown-like, red faces and huge, white and black bodies.

There was so much more to the trip: the birdlife is beyond belief and Jordy's (our guide) enthusiasm was contagious. He knew everything about anything and was so driven by the life around him (except when he was napping, of course). The group was great fun too. There was a total of seven, three of whom were over fifty and a bit ‘mleh’ (if I'm honest!) but the other two were a divine and hilarious couple (Josh and Rosie), the same age as Sarah and I, who we went for a ‘debrief’ dinner with once back in Cusco.

I still can't believe I was there, in the Amazon Jungle… But what broke my heart to smithereens on leaving, was the news that Bolsonaro had been elected as the new Brazilian President, and with his disgusting plans to open the Amazon to widespread development, the ‘Earth’s Lungs’ don't stand a chance.