Luxury and nature in Peru’s Amazon

A walkway leads into the lodges of Ceiba Tops, part of the Amazon Explorama Lodges near Iquitos, Peru. (All photos by Rodney Dodig) See slide show.

After arriving to the lodge Ceiba Tops down the Amazon River from Iquitos, Peru, Rodney Dodig's rainforest vacation begins. (Read part one here.)

By Rodney Dodig

I had time to unpack before heading to the central lodge for lunch. Wooden elevated walkways lead throughout the various cabins and building. These eventually took you to the main building where the office, lounge, bar and dining room were located. It was large and comfortable with overstuffed couches, rattan furniture and ceiling fans. There was also a Jacuzzi and swimming pool just outside. A nice water slide ran between the two, which several guests really enjoyed. The lodge served all meals buffet style. They were delicious and the dishes served at the appropriate temperatures. Staff stood behind the line, waiting to help serve you and to explain all of the dishes.
A rainbow over the Amazon River.
Coming across a giant termite nest in a walk by the lodge.
See more photos.

The tours included in our package were all timed to give us a chance to relax before and after all meals. The first afternoon our guide took us on another short boat trip to visit a village of the Yagua tribe and enjoy an educational walk through the jungle at the same time. During the walk, he pointed out various plant, animal and bird species.

We eventually arrived at the village and were treated to local costumes, dances and rituals by some tribe members. Our guide told us that these structures were built specifically to entertain tourists. Many members of the tribe did not want contact with others and some were still under the belief that the taking of photos stole their souls. The actual village was some distance away. Our group received a demonstration of blowgun technique after which we were allowed to try out our own skill. A little time for buying crafts from the tribe and then we headed back to the lodge. My friends spent some time in the Jacuzzi and enjoying the slide while I took the time to do a little writing. Then dinner and a little entertainment by a band made up of a few of the employees at the lodge.

The next morning after breakfast, we enjoyed a nature walk in the jungle around the lodge. The walk included areas of new and old growth forest. Only a few in our group decided to participate which made the experience more personal. Our guide once again pointed out local flora and fauna. We saw a lot of small animals and birds, the small poison dart frogs being the most interesting to me. My friends enjoyed the monkeys the most. Large animals like the tapir, anaconda and sloth managed to escape our view on this morning.

After lunch, we boarded a small boat again. This time we went fishing for Piranha and looking for the famous Amazon pink dolphin. The fishing was certainly different from the type I am used to. The guide told us to bang out poles in the water so that the Piranha would think an injured animal was flailing about. We mostly caught small catfish that we threw back. Giving up on the piranha, we headed to another part of the river in search of the dolphins. They are quite hard to spot and you have to be vigilant. The pink dolphin has a small dorsal fin and when they are breaking the surface of the water, it can be hard to see them. Only the adults are a bright pink, the young are grey in color like the bottlenose dolphin. Heading back to the lodge we were treated to a beautiful double rainbow that crossed from one side of the river to the other.

Back at the lodge for the evening meal and even more entertainment, a local youth group danced for us. Native dances that told the stories of a few of the myths from the local tribes. The most interesting was a dance involving a live anaconda and a myth about a lady who lives in a lake. The kids were enthusiastic and put on a good performance. The lodge band played between dances while they changed costumes. It was obvious that every person there enjoyed the show and music from the generous applause.

After another good night’s sleep and hearty breakfast the next morning, we once again boarded another boat for a short trip to Indiana, a small town just down river from the lodge. This was our guide Abelardo’s home. He walked us through the town, pointing out spots of interest and telling us stories from his childhood. He took what might have been something a little boring and made it fascinating. Afterwards we boarded the boat for the trip back to the lodge and our last lunch. After eating, they put us on a speedboat back to Iquitos and the airport for our flight back to Lima.

The staff at the lodge was professional and courteous. The rooms clean, beds comfortable, and air conditioning a must for me. The main currency used at the lodge is the U.S. dollar but they will take Peruvian soles. They have a small gift shop there but do not have many personal items in stock (i.e. no shaving cream). They have a list of items you should bring listed on their website. Since my trip to the Ceiba Tops, another group of my friends has been there. If anything, they enjoyed the experience even more than my group. They added an extra day and enjoyed the experience of the Jungle Canopy Walkway.

I want to reiterate that you have the choice of several levels of comfort with Explorama Lodges. In addition there are several other lodges offering a range of services for your jungle experience. Take the time to pick what’s right for you.

Read more travel stories from Peru by Rodney Dodig. Click here to see his blog and read his fiction at Peru Writer’s Group.