About 12 years ago, my wife, oldest son and I visited Iquitos for the first time. It was a wonderful experience to finally make it into the middle of the jungle and see a town that just a hundred years earlier was extremely popular for its rubber- which helped to kick start the economy in that part of the world.
One of the reasons why I enjoy very much visiting the jungle is that everything is so amazingly green; there are tons of beautiful plants, the animals are incredible and there is so much peace when cruising down the amazon river.
One day, we took the local river bus to visit the butterfly farm and on our return, there was another foreigner onboard. He reminded me of someone, who had started a local newspaper in English, now called Iquitos Times, which was sold for 50 centavos to tourists to raise money to buy school supplies for kids who can’t afford to buy these themselves. And I was right. It was Mike Collis.
After a few minutes we started talking and half an hour later, we were drinking a cold beer together in the local bar. Besides starting this newspaper, Mike had started a short raft race to entertain the local expats and the people of Iquitos, but his ambition was bigger. He wanted to do THE RACE. I had the pleasure to help and support Mike and his friends in Iquitos for 5-6 years and now The Amazon River Raft Race is the longest raft race in the world according to Guinness Book of World Records.
Since 2013, when 50 teams from all over the world and I last joined, the local authorities have continued the tradition and the next race is from October 5 to 8, 2017.
For more information about this year’s race check out this Facebook page.
It is a wonderful experience, where you get to build your own raft on a small island outside Nauta after which you paddle down the river for about a 180 km before arriving in Iquitos to celebrate with a cold beer and a good night’s sleep.
Creating The Amazon River Raft Race was not enough for Mike. He wanted more travelers from around the world to visit Iquitos, so one late afternoon in the local bar back in 2005, he claimed that to put Iquitos on the map, the city needed a golf course.
Most people looked at Crazy Mike, some shook their heads and others walked up to him give $500 with the following words – “Let’s build that golf course.”
Within a few weeks, 65 other crazy people had given Mike $500 and some more and a new friend appeared offering the group a piece of land big enough to build a 9-hole golf course just 25 minutes outside of the city. After having removed the snake farm, which had been located on this property for years, the crazy idea of building a golf course in the middle of the Amazon started to become a reality.
It wasn’t going to be an easy task to build a golf course in the middle of the Amazon, but shortly after the kickoff, one of Peru’s top professional golf players offered to help design the golf course and the work began.
A few years later Iquitos was ready to receive its first golf player – Carl Johan Ohrling, an international golfer from Sweden.
On May 1st, 2008 the first official golfer played a round of golf at the Amazon Golf Course, Iquitos, Peru. Carl Johan Ohrling of Sweden was presented with a certificate recording this momentous occasion by the course manager Michael Collis.
Since then, we have gone from “manual labor” to cut the grass to motorized lawn mowers, and Mike has bought and planted more than 10 thousand flowers and plants. With the help of existing members and sponsors, we have built a club house, where you’re welcome to visit, have lunch, drink a cold beer and get a siesta in one of the hammocks, even if you don’t play golf.
I think the next project is to build a swimming pool, so if you’re looking for a cool project to sponsor and want to become as crazy as the rest of us, who have supported Mike’s wonderful idea about building the only golf course in the Amazon, don’t hesitate to contact Mike here.
To learn more about the Amazon Golf Course in Iquitos, only 1 1/2 hours from Lima by plane, check out this video:
To find out more about the Amazon Golf Course check out the Facebook page.
And if you want to do more than just read about Iquitos, don’t hesitate to contact Natasha at firstname.lastname@example.org. She can help organize your entire trip!
And now this week’s joke:
A married man was having an affair with his secretary.
One day, their passions overcame them in the office and they took off for her house.
Exhausted from the afternoon’s activities, they fell asleep and awoke at around 8 p.m. As the man threw on his clothes, he told the woman to take his shoes outside and rub them through the grass and dirt. Confused, she nonetheless complied and he slipped into his shoes and drove home.
“Where have you been?” demanded his wife when he entered the house. “Darling,” replied the man, “I can’t lie to you. I’ve been having an affair with my secretary. I fell asleep in her bed and didn’t wake up until eight o’clock.” The wife glanced down at his shoes and said, “You liar! You’ve been playing golf!”
Originally from Denmark, Carsten returned to Peru in 2002 with his wife and eldest son. He started LivinginPeru.com in 2005, among other ventures in Peru. Before this, Carsten has worked in tourism, living in France, Sicily, and the U.S., and promoted bands like Metallica, Def Leppard and U2 for PolyGram Records (now Universal Music). Carsten loves pisco sours, Peru’s cuisine, and traveling with his family within Peru, a country that he believes is the land of opportunities.