January 8, En Route to the Peruvian Amazon

Submitted by Danny Catt on Wed, 2007/01/17 - 4:05pm.

I was up early (5 a.m. is early for me!) in order to make a quick visit to the Cusco Market with my delightful host and friend from Trek Peru (thanks Dafne!) before heading to the airport to start the next leg of my journey.

My brief time spent in the Peruvian Andes was fabulous and there is no doubt that I will return. The region is so rich in culture, with incredible landscape diversity and warm and wonderful people. In mid-morning I boarded an Aero Condor flight in Cusco heading for Puerto Maldonado in the Peruvian Amazon. Peru is so diverse … from beaches along the Pacific coast to lofty 6000 metre peaks, to the dark jungles of the Amazon rainforest.

First Views of the Amazon Rainforest, Peru
First views of the Amazon rainforest

I admit it was a bit of a shock to my system as I left the air conditioned plane cabin and entered the hot, sticky and humid world of the Amazon basin. It was even stranger when I checked the weather in Vancouver on the internet to find that snow was in the forecast!
After checking into my hotel I went for a wander around town and down to the river, the Rio Madre de Dios, which runs through the town of about 40,000 inhabitants.

Rio Madre de Dios, Peru
Rio Madre de Dios, Peru

The Rio Madre de Dios is one of the many headwater rivers of the Amazon. It originates in the south-eastern corner of Peru, not far from the Brazil and Bolivian borders, cuts through Bolivia and eventually joins the Amazon in Brazil. One of our Fish, Wildlife & Recreation program grads, Krista Adamek, has been working on a World Wildlife Fund project there for the past three years and it was my plan to get up river to spend a few days with her at the research station she has called home since graduating from BCIT three years ago.

I visited the Research Station office in Puerto Maldonado and filled out the necessary paperwork and also made arrangements for a transfer to the town of Laberinto where the next morning I would join a public boat (a collectivo) that would take me up river to the station.

My Spanish has not been improving as quickly as I would like but I was getting used to the menus in Spanish and I was getting fairly proficient (or so I thought) at ordering the foods I was keen to try (pollo = chicken; pescado = fish; carne = meat) so you can perhaps imagine my surprise when the words on the menu didn’t seem to make any sense at all. Had I suddenly lost all of the little bit of Spanish I had learned? I ended up asking the waitress to come over and I did my best to point out and ask why there was no chicken on the menu (her English was comparable to my Spanish… not very good). No matter where you are in the world though, with a little effort (perhaps some sign language) you can make yourself understood. When she finally understood and looked at my menu, she laughed, ran over and handed me a different one. This time the choices seemed much more understandable, and voila there was my pollo! Because Puerto Maldonado is so close to the Brazilian border, the menu I was reading was in Portugese (the official language of Brazil) not in Spanish!

After my fowlish feast I worked for awhile before calling it a night. Another early morning tomorrow.


Submitted by Micki LeVine (not verified) on Thu, 2007/01/18 - 10:00am.
Hi Danny I hope this reaches you on your journey It is wonderful to see that you are in South America Ron and I were there this past summer I just wanted to let you know that I am enjoying reliving the moments thru your eyes Enjoy Best regard Micki
Submitted by Danny Catt on Sun, 2007/01/21 - 6:50am.

Hello from the coast of Chile! Great to hear from you. I have been on the go so much in the past week and a bit that I have not had much opportunity to add to the blog... but I am working on it now so more should be up soon. Say hi to Ron for me and the rest of the family. Keep me posted on how you are doing... where in South America were you last year? Ciao for now.


Submitted by Tom and Ruth Neilson (not verified) on Sun, 2007/01/21 - 2:05pm.

Hola Danny! We are travelling along with you again, happy to receive your e-mails; also thoroughly enjoying and very impressed by the website. Pucallpa brings back memories as a former student of Tom’s, a graduate of the BCIT Wood Products program, came from the Pucallpa area! His name is Fidel Tuesta-Jhong. He attended BCIT sometime in the 80’s; he was an excellent student and a nice guy. We became good friends with him and another Spanish speaking student and enjoyed many social gatherings together (consuming more than one glass of that infamous Peruvian liqueur, “Pisco”!).May it all go well with you or, as they say in Spanish: “que te vaya bien,”Ruth y Tomás

PS: the photos are stunning, hang onto that camera!     

Submitted by Danny Catt on Thu, 2007/02/08 - 6:32am.

Hi there... and many apologies for my delayed reply to your hello. I now have a faster internet connection which is allowing me to do some edits and also catch up on posts. I had a great visit to Pucallpa (visited Roald) but did not meet your friend Fidel. Thanks for your words of support... and I hope you enjoy the upcoming posts and photo galleries! Say hola to everyone at home!


Danny :)

Submitted by Michelle (not verified) on Tue, 2007/01/23 - 9:23am.

Hi Danny - just checked out your blog and the pics. Fantastic photos - Peru looks like a beautiful place - would love the opportunity to visit some day myself. 

I will keep checking out your blog - it is fun to hear about your day to day adventures and what a way to keep track of your trip!

Take care!


Submitted by Danny Catt on Wed, 2007/01/24 - 12:02pm.

Thanks for your note and kind words about the website. A lot of folks at BCIT have been working hard on it and so I am really pleased you like it. We will be adding a photo galleries soon and I am working on catching up with my blog posts. I hope all is well and keep me posted on how you are doing. If you have any questions about the journey, feel free to ask.

Cheers, Danny

Submitted by darcy (not verified) on Tue, 2007/01/23 - 11:16am.
Danny, I have heard that the Guinie  Pig (spelling?) is a true South American delicacy, have you tried it?  I have not. Darcy
Submitted by Danny Catt on Wed, 2007/01/24 - 12:06pm.

Hi Darcy,

Thanks for your question. And yes, guinea pig is a very popular meal in some South American countries (Ecuador and Peru for example). It was on the menu in Cusco and Ollantaytambo, Peru but I did not have it. I have tasted it though in Ecuador on an earlier trip. It is tastey... but not for everyone. I hope all is well and thanks again for the question.



Submitted by Vanessa (not verified) on Tue, 2007/01/23 - 6:14pm.

Hola amigo Danny
Nice to see that your South american adventure is going well. I just wanted to say hello from Ecuador, now that I am back from my trip to Panama, it was a lot of fun.
I will keep following your trip through this page, take care my friend and enjoy
your time in our Continent.
With best regards
from Quito, Ecuador

Submitted by Danny Catt on Wed, 2007/01/24 - 11:55am.

Hello amiga! I am so pleased to hear that you enjoyed your much needed break in Panama. I am well... at the moment I am on the coast of Chile and I am giving a series of lectures on board the MS Prinsendam. I will be disembarking in Punta Arenas in less than a week and then will visit Patagonia then on to Argentina and Brazil. I am working on updating the blog... so keep posted. Keep me posted on how you are doing and I will look forward to my visit to Ecuador in a few months!

Ciao for now!


Submitted by Kerry Rodriguez (not verified) on Tue, 2007/01/30 - 5:33pm.

Hi Danny,

As always, I am in awe of your sensitive photographs, which are so beautifully composed. I will be following your journey and send you all best wishes.

Be safe and well, and follow the light.

Kerry - from Baffin Island ship trips

Submitted by Danny Catt on Thu, 2007/02/08 - 6:34am.

Thanks so much for your very kind and supportive words. It is such a pleasure to hear from friends when you are so far from home. I hope you are well... and send another hello somewhere along the journey.

Cheers Amiga, Danny :)

Submitted by June (not verified) on Sun, 2007/02/04 - 7:42pm.

Hi, Danny  ---We are enjoying following your travels and, of course, your always beautiful photos. What an ambitious project! Thanks so much for the e-mails.

We are in the midst of a wild blizzard to-night in our neck of the woods, and could use a little of the warmth of S.America! Hope you are not finding it too uncomfortable.

Jim sends his best, and says "hang on to your wallet".(Now, why would he say that?)

Safe travels, and enjoy every minute of this adventure.


J.& J.

Submitted by Danny Catt on Thu, 2007/02/08 - 6:37am.
Wonderful to hear from you, and thanks for your supportive words. The blizzard does not sound nice... here in Argentina it is about 30 degrees... and the skies are clear! I have been careful with my wallet (thank Jim for the heads up!) ... but I did manage to lose my VISA card somewhere along the route which has caused some problems... but that is being sorted out! I am glad you are following along... and look forward to hearing from you sometime soon. Ciao for now! Danny :)
Submitted by Nora Berkhout (not verified) on Fri, 2007/02/09 - 9:25am.
HiDanny..the pics are so beautiful. I would not be able to keep up with you once I had settled in with a wet paint brush. To actully be in the presence of such natural beauty must be awe inspiring and as you go on do you ever think "this is just the best"?    Nora under cnowy skies in BC