Setting off from where I left off, we continued our jungle adventure by leaving Iquitos and heading off by boat to our accomodation in the middle of the Amazon Rainforest. I was blown away when I saw our accomodation- a series of small jungle huts joined by wooden walkways, a jungle bar (akin to something you'd see in a James Bond film) and a beautiful swimming pool. We were surrounded, however, by dense rainforest and the vast expanse of water that is the Amazon River- far away from everything, without internet and only with electricity for certain hours of the day. It was tranquil though, with plenty of hammocks and an amazing library with books from around the world in many languages to enjoy and relax- very different from the hustle and bustle of Lima that I've become so accustomed to.
We wasted little time in making the most of our short stay in the Amazon, setting off in little boats to fish for pirahnas, to search for wild sloths in the treetops and to see the Victoria Regia (gigantic lily pads and waterlillies only found in the tributaries of the Amazon River). We visited a local tribe or two, where we learnt to shoot poison darts and were able to experience their isolated way of life. I got to hold a wild sloth, and we visited a local jungle library, where we were able to play with the little kids. They tried to teach us to climb the jungle trees, which we were all hopeless at!
Perhaps my favourite experience of our time spent in the Amazon was when we were returning from one of our excursions in the boat along the river one afternoon. Someone asked our guide if it would be possible to swim in the Amazon River, and to our surprise, he said we could. We thus all stripped off and jumped off the boat into the warm water, screaming and laughing with glee at the spontaneity of the whole situation. I had such a great time trying to not only keep my head above the surface in a rapid-flowing river, but also enjoyed a spectacular sunset and the company of some of my favourite people in the world. It was such a beautiful moment, one I definitely won't forget quickly! And don't worry, we weren't completely bonkers- piranhas don't actually swim in the Amazon River itself because the current is too strong for the nasty little buggers. Instead they swim in the little tributaries off the main part of the river.
I was also fortunate to have my 19th birthday during my stay there (and for those of you who know me well will realise how behind on posting I am!). The resort staff made me a cake and they all came out during lunch to surprise me, singing 'Cumpleaños Feliz' with the other exchange students. I really enjoyed celebrating my special day surrounded by so many of my close friends, and in such a unique location. I spent the remainder of the day drinking piña coladas in the pool and relaxing in a hammock before heading back to Lima that night.
It was such a fantastic and relaxing trip, and I'd do it all again in a heartbeat!