Tarapoto: Adventures in the land before time

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My expectations of delving into a jungle Eden and finding half nude natives greeting me as I stepped from my plane were as fantastic as they were far from the truth. The small airport terminal in Tarapoto was as welcoming as my fantasy, though, after having spent two hours waiting on the tarmac in Lima for the rain to clear over Tarapoto.

My first impressions of the town were less then I had expected to be sure and the mototaxi ride to my eco-lodge did little to alleviate my concerns that maybe this trip was a mistake. We left the paved road and bounced down a jungle trek at what seemed like break-neck speed (no pun intended), but arrived safely at The Madera Labrada Lodge Ecologico. I was here for the next three days, and it was rustic to say the least. This place proved to me that pictures can lie. The promised Jacuzzi did not function and the gym was three pieces of dilapidated broken equipment. The pool was open to the public and was filled with screaming local teens for the duration of my stay. My room was above the public toilets and I was happy that I had only to sleep there. The good part of all of this was I was to spend much of these days exploring Tarapoto the town. I was very surprised with what I discovered! I loved Tarapoto!

Tarapoto
_(Photo: Gerard Kelly/Peru this Week)_

My first impressions as most first impressions are were completely wrong. Tarapoto was beautiful. The first thing you notice are that the streets are crowded with mototaxis and motorbikes, while there are few cars. This gave the place the atmosphere of an exotic frontier town. Here the Mototaxi driver rules the streets and you will find they are courteous and ever so friendly. You soon learn that they are very honest as well.

p=. *SEE MORE: Discovering Tarapoto (PHOTOS)*

The restaurants in Tarapoto offer you delicacies you will not find in too many other places in Peru. The food here is unique and as exotic as the Amazon that it originates from. I ate many types of salads and drank some strange brews.One bottle contained a dead snake, and another Suri, a giant larvi, or maggot, which I also ate! It tasted a lot better than it sounds.

Tarapoto
_(Photo: Gerard Kelly/Peru this Week)_

Next I moved to some finer accommodations at Puerto Palmeras Resort. This high end resort is on the outskirts of Taropoto and offers all the modern conveniences you might find in any big city hotel. I enjoyed my strolls around the small lake, and the fantastic pool and pool bar. The dining-room and food were excellent! The service was as fine as the accommodations.

After recouping from our stay at The Madera Lodge and enjoying some quiet time relaxing we moved back into Tarapoto proper to a small place called the Bubinzana Magical Lodge. What a relief! This place was as magical as its name implied. Señora Nelly greeted and us and we were soon to learn that she is the magic in the name. She made our stay there so comfortable. The pool was wonderful and the proprietor turned up the Jacuzzi each evening to relax our wary bones after a day of tours.

Tarapoto
_(Photo: Gerard Kelly/Peru this Week)_

After a disastrous tour set up by the Madera Lodge that we abandoned before the tour-cumbi left the street we were on, we struck out on our own and with the help of a friendly Mototaxi driver discovered Tour Gorillaz Peru. This organization was perfect in every way. The tours were not over booked and crowded. We saw so many places and they even provided us with our own driver in a comfortable, private, air conditioned car for our tour of Lamas. We had many tours with this company to all the most popular sights in this part of the Amazon, including Laguna Azul, The Cascadas de Pishurayacu, Alto Mayo, and the Cataratas de Huacamaillo! I highly reccommend this company to anyone traveling to Tarapoto for service and the best prices in town!

My greatest regrets about this adventure my wife and I had there are that I did not buy more coffee to take home when we were in Mayo Alto, and that we did not have more time in Tarapoto. First impressions are more often than not wrong and mine certainly were in this case. I love Tarapoto and can’t wait until I can visit again. Next time |I am going to Chachapoyas, as well as a four day boat trip on the river from Tarapoto to Iquitos!Lush surroundings and exotic food in the jungle city of Tarapoto.

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