a field guide to the planet - by Damon Ramsey
I stayed at this lodge for four days in 2017. Of the four lodges I stayed at in Peru, I think this is my favourite! Best of all, this is one of the cheaper lodges in the Amazon. Most lodges tend to be very expensive. It is also one of the few lodges anywhere in the Amazon that allow independent travellers; there are only a handful of lodges across the countries that include the Amazon that allow people to stay that are not in tour groups. As with all the lodges in the tropical Americas, the food is great.
This lodge has a great variety of trails. Several go along the main river. Some go along wider 'bush roads'. Another trail climbs up several hundred metres and to a very tall and slightly wobbly canopy tower. There is also a oxbow lake like environment with a bamboo raft that can be sticked out.
I stayed here in 2014, as part of a three day tour, and then for an extra two nights by myself. To stay in the rainforest in the Amazon within Brazil you usually have to be part of a 'packaged' tour. This lodge, Antonio's Jungle Lodge, is one of the cheaper lodges, and also the only one I know of in the region that allows a stay after the tour.
The tours themselves are 'jungle adventure' tours for budget backpackers. Which means you will likely be hiking with younger international backpackers with little wildlife experience or focus, and get a guide with stories and survival tricks, but who may not be able to distinguish between different bird species or plant families (In contrast to the knowledge of guides in the Pantanal or at the more expensive lodges). You'll fill up the day with activities such as jungle walks and fishing. Some of these activities are interesting, such as the piranha fishing, but if you are a naturalist, bird-watcher or wildlife viewer, you might get frustrated. The guides do their best, but they catering to a young crowd that may not have the patience or interest to bird-watch in the jungle. On the tour the guide will point out any monkeys high in the canopy, toucans, and if he sees a snake. Best of all, they are very good at enticing tarantulas out of burrows.
But hang in there until after the tour and you can spend a few days at the lodge. You have a choice of accommodation types here, from a communal hammock, a dorm, or separate 'chalets'. Perhaps the best rooms are those in the observation tower.
There is a trail at the back of the lodge that does a short loop. It is OK for birding in the morning or frogging/insecting at night.
The best birding is no doubt the gardens around the buildings, and if you sit at the restaurant you should see a number of good species (especially if they put some fruit out), including tanagers...
There is also the option of grabbing a canoe and going for a paddle on the river. You won't see a lot of animals this way (some birds, bats, butterflies, snakes, etc), but it is a very pleasant experience paddling by oneself on the back black-waters of the Amazon.
The website for the lodge is through: http://www.antonio-jungletours.com
Amacayacu National Park, Amazon, Colombia.
Angel Paz bird reserve, Refugio Paz de Las Aves western Andes cloud forest, Ecuador.
Cock of the Rock Lodge, Peru.
Iguazu Falls, Brazil/Argentina.
Machu Picchu, Peru.
Manu Paradise Lodge, Peru.
Villa Carmen Lodge, Peru.
Thinking of travelling again after everything settles down? One of the first expeditions I am booked to work on is the NZ sub-Antarctics with Silversea Expeditions. And here is a shortened version of one of my lectures in a warmer part of the world.