Thirty thousand, perhaps forty thousand gold washers comb the stony rivers of this desert between Peru and Brazil. With each…
- All DestinationsPuerto MaldonadoThe JungleTraveling in PeruBy Cristina Espejo
Imagine receiving a phone call telling you that out of thousands of entries, you have won a contest that will soon be taking you to a fascinating foreign country. For 12 days, you will discover coastal desserts, luscious green mountains and the secrets of the rainforest. Well, for 15 American kids, that phone call was a reality. For the fourth consecutive year, National Geographic Kids, a magazine aiming to motivate children to learn about and explore their world, has held a “Hands-On Explorer Challenge,” where kids can win a chance to go on an expedition to a foreign country.
To enter the contest, kids between the ages of 9 and 14 were asked to write a 300-word essay about how they actively explore their world, and what inspiring and exciting things they’ve found, as well as a photograph illustrating their essay. Almost 2,000 kids entered, and out of these, only 15 were selected. Their essay topics were varied, ranging from birds to fossils, foods of the world and the voices of Mother Nature, but all shared an underlying energy. “They all seemed genuinely spirited and all had a true interest in other people, other places, and nature,” Catherine Hughes, science editor for NG Kids, said.
In previous years, winners have traveled to the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador, South Africa, and Australia. This time, the magazine chose Peru as their destination. “We’re looking for a country which has a lot of different biodiversity, some cultural diversity, as well as some history to it, and I think that Peru is one of the best places to visit if that’s what you’re looking for,” Dana Deighton, marketing director for NG Kids, told me.
(Written by Elise van der Heijden, kindly provided by Anaconda Lodge –link-)
00 © Photo by Helard Aguilar Centeno
Are you going to Puerto Maldonado, into the heart of the Amazon to marvel at its abundantly colourful wildlife, but would also like to get to know the town itself? Search no more, we’ve brought together an in-depth city guide for you, covering all the ingredients that make up your exploration: cultural attractions, shopping, eating and last but not least, the nightlife.
You arrive at the Padre Aldamiz International Airport after an hour’s flight from Cusco or Lima. Greeted by the hot and humid climate of the rainforest, there is no mistake you’ve arrived at the rainforest, and just outside the terminal you will start to hear animal sounds and marvel at the variety of tropical vegetation. The airport has 2 interesting attractions just a stone’s throw away: The Serpent’s House is a refuge for sick and wounded snakes and other reptiles, whose local volunteers offer an interesting tour that will leave you a lot more acquainted and possible less fearful of this mysterious animal.
The other attraction doesn’t require quite as much nerve: Japipi is a butterfly house, their garden housing a wonderfully colourful range of butterflies of the region, and offers an interesting tour educating visitors about the rainforest ecosystem and biodiversity.
The main square, the Plaza de Armas is a good place to start exploring the city’s shops, with various souvenir shops on its flanks. Continue by following the road Leon Velarde, which has several clothing shops, tourist agencies and pharmacies (a good opportunity to get insect repellent for those who’d forgotten). Jump in the back of a motortaxi to take you to the city’s Mercado Modelo to get some wonderful fresh fruit of the region, or freshly baked bread, as well as a sense of what everyday life is like for the locals in this jungle city. If you are lucky, it might even be in the right season to try “suri”, a worm the locals love eating roasted, and also swear by its healing properties for throat infections.