Of all the activities Juma Lodge provides, my favorite was the jungle walk, a serious hike through the Amazon Rainforest. The breathtaking flora and fauna, the steamy nature of the air around you, the wild views of dense tropical rainforest reaching stories high above your head to the fallen leaves under your feet. It was – in one word – BEAUTIFUL. Leaving the lodge by boat, we ventured to a new part of this dense forest. I loved when our boat would enter into the tree canopies; it was like entering a magical world full of natural secrets. We started by clearing the path through the jungle with a machete, then learned how to climb Acai Trees like the natives by making rope out of leaves, how to communicate far distances with a stick and a tree, that Babasu Gongoin (beetle larvae) tastes just like coconuts (and according to our guide, Bill Gates loved them on his walking tour!), and how to separate palm leaves in order to fold them into forest crowns. Not your typical Monday activities in Manhattan!
After a refreshing swim at the end of our hike (remember it’s like 100000% humidity) we had lunch cooked over an open flame and took a dip to cool off. That evening we went fishing for piranhas which later became part of our family style meal. The journey to get here, the monkeys, and being forced to disconnect from the rest of the world will put this place, deep in the heart of the Amazon, forever deep in mine.
and FYI- Manaus is only a 5 hour flight from Miami, what adventure you take from there is up to you!
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One of the coolest unexpected experiences of the Amazon and our stay at Juma Lodge was meeting these guys. While touring the resort, the guide told us that two monkeys lived in the area, and when they jump on you, it’s important to not be startled, to stay calm and not scream because you wouldn’t want to frighten the monkey. They also told us to keep our doors locked whenever we left the rooms, because the monkeys liked to ‘help themselves’ to your belongings and make a huge mess of it. He also warned that if we hear a “knock” on our door to not open it all the way, to crack it first and make sure it’s not a monkey trying to get in. We all chatted in excitement about all these little tips over dinner and tucked ourselves in for the night hoping we would get to see one of these little guys the next day.
Well… see these monkeys we did. Around 6:30 am the knocks on the door started coming! Just as the guide had warned us, it was monkey time. Up and down the resort they went, waking everybody up. They crawled on us, they cuddled in our arms, they swung from our bodies with their tails, they napped on us in hammocks, and they stole the limes from our cocktails. It was amazing. I’ll never forget napping in the hammock, hearing the pitter-patter of little monkey feet coming and then seeing his head popping over the hammock edge…and in he came to join me. It was a blast.
Monkey love – The female monkey was absolutely 100% head-over-heels in love with our travel companion Zach. Any time he was outside his room she was in his arms. As the trip progressed, the deeper she felt and even started swatting Kelly away to keep him all to herself! He couldn’t move without her attached to him and if he was in his room she’d knock and try the door knob repeatedly!
I love when life gives you these memories you can never plan for, an experience you didn’t know was possible. Such an adventure… just monkeying around.
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All the greatest adventures require a great journey to reach them. This would be the third time, after Safari and Patagonia, I have dedicated over a day just in travel to reach a destination… but it is worth every transfer. Two flights, two buses and two boats and halfway through there, we said goodbye to WiFi and cell service. After passing pink dolphins, and navigating through large trees jutting out of the water, we motored up to the Juma Lodge just as the sun was setting. Being so far removed from modern civilization, we had ventured into an unknown world.
On Juma Lake in the Amazon River, we climbed the stairs to our treehouse bungalows. Our first night spent in the rainforest, we lay on the deck looking up at the night sky, almost bursting with stars of every size and color. We started to live by nature’s standard – it was such a funny thing, the moment we took away the every day technologies, we were all in bed by 10pm and up at 7. And what a wake-up call it was. Each morning we would hear a “knock” on our door, up and down all the cabanas, only to find a monkey waiting outside, climbing up your limbs to be cradled in your arms or sit on your shoulders. It was an awesome experience. We would swing in hammocks on the deck, suspended high above the waters below, and relish in a afternoon thunderstorm that brought a bit of relief from the humidity.
I think back on this experience and I can’t believe it lives in my memories. To see a part of the world so untouched, still so mysterious, and so influential in our modern day medicines and sciences, it almost felt spiritual, like we were sleeping close to ancient gods and all they could do was smile down upon us.
Where the two rivers meet – the above image illustrates the Rio Negro (black water) and the caramel-colored Amazon River flowing side by side but not mixing due to the different makeup and temperatures of the two rivers. This was the last Instagram I got out before we lost service!
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