Review of Amazon Trails Peru


If you read my previous posts, you probably already know that we had a priceless time in the Amazon, and it can be attributed to the great folks at Amazon Trails Peru (ATP), who really know how to reveal the majestic natural wonders of the rainforest.  While we participated in the 6-day "Explore Manu National Park" tour, I am pretty confident that their other tours would be at least equivalent in their professionalism.  

I must admit that I was a bit hesitant at first in registering with this particular tour operator as they required a $100 USD deposit via Western Union to reserve our spots.  Credit cards were not accepted and all the experts warn you not to perform Western Union transactions with strangers, let alone a company based in South America but there were a limited number of Manu tour operators, let alone ones with decent web sites, reasonable prices, and tours fitting our schedule. Ulla, ATP's co-owner, answered our questions fairly well, and luckily, provided us with the confidence to pay up. In our case, it worked out well.

We combined our tour with stays at ATP's hostel, Amazon Hostal, in Cusco, before and after the trip, so we became very familiar with their staff and there were no issues either in Cusco or the Amazon.  While reading South American travel books, I would come across frequent  warnings about drunk bus drivers so the concern did pass through my mind when I learned that this Amazon trip consisted of a 12-hour bus trip through the Andes and countless hours in a boat in potentially piranha-filled rivers (though this piranha concern was supposedly unwarranted).  Besides a polite sip of the birthday wine we gave them on the boat, the presence and effects of alcohol were not seen on any of the crew at anytime throughout our six-day trip.  They may have drank excessively after we boarded the plane to celebrate not having to deal with us anymore but not beforehand.. lol

Our driver's driving skills were impressive as we made our way through the Andes on the narrow dirt road hugging the side of the mountainside. Although we were on the edge of a cliff (and life) for the vast majority of the 12-hour drive, I never feared for our safety as his skills demonstrated that he was a professional and experienced driver very familiar with the road.

The same goes for our boat driver, Elias (a.k.a Maradona), and his assistant, Cecilio, who navigated our motorized canoe like they owned the constantly changing rivers by elegantly avoiding nearly all hidden underwater trees and utilizing the river's currents to our advantage. Cecilio also appeared to be the man-behind-the-scenes at making sure our stays at the lodges were as comfortable as possible.

You'll probably laugh but my biggest concern was the food.  In fact, I brought a load of Cliff Protein Bars and granola bars to South America solely for this portion of the trip. Yes, I admit it. I am a very picky eater and was worried I'd be stuck having to eat food I can't stand looking at, let alone eat.  Yet I was pleasantly surprised by the variety and quality of our food. Our cook, Alberto, made many incredibly flavourful meals out of what seemed to be nothing in the back of the boat and the lodges' kitchen facilities. There was only one or two meals during the trip that were not to my liking but that's really good for a six day trip.  Hey, I can eat ants in my cereal (we're in the Amazon after all and this happened only once) but pasta is a definite no-go for me.  Yes, I know.  I'm difficult!  Besides, breakfast, lunch, and supper, we also had access to fruits and snacks throughout the day while cruising the waterways. Alberto also kept our bottles filled with filtered water so I ended up not having to use a single water purification pill.  Elias, Cecilio, and Alberto spoke very little English.  I really wished my Spanish was a lot better so I could actually converse with them because they appeared to be really cool guys. Perhaps next time!

And last but not least, our guide, Edouard.  He really went the extra mile, especially on the last day when he took us back to the oxbow lake as a last ditch attempt at spotting the famous Giant River Otters. He really seemed to enjoy nature and his job, and the trip would not have been the same without him.
But since this is a review, I should also present some things that could use some improvement in my opinion.  They're really all pretty petty things but would nevertheless have made the trip even better:

  1. Our guide kept on referring to us as "friends" and I don't think he ever called us by our names. It's no biggie and that "My friends" phrase will always remind me of the Amazon, but knowing our names would not have only added a nice personalized touch but might have also come in handy in a risky situation, if one arose.

  2. Considering the luggage weight considerations, a scale would have been handy back at the hostel to help us determine the initial weight of our backpacks.

  3. Clean bus windows (at least at the start of the trip) would have been nice.  They weren't super dirty but dirty enough to make it pointless to try photographing the scenery through the windows.

  4. Supplying matches at the lodges (especially when arriving at the lodge in the dark).

  5. It could have been mentioned before our trip that flashlights are better than headlamps for use in spotting wildlife during the nightwalks.

  6. The very occasional use of an iPod to play the sounds of a specific monkey in an attempt to attract it to come closer was unnecessary and distracting as it took away a bit of the spontaneity of the moment.  That said, this method wasn't used very often, and in one instance, it actually worked.

  7. Judging on the insect activity upon arrival to the rooms at the "rustic" lodge, it did not appear as though the rooms were used in a while. A little human activity in the room beforehand may have spooked some of the insects away.  

Despite these potential shortcomings, our trip to Manu National Park and the surrounding Amazon rainforest region was an awesome and memorable experience in only good ways.

So if you're thinking of visiting the jungle, I have no issues recommending
Amazon Trails Peru and their 6-day "Explore Manu National Park" tour.



If you found this unbiased and independent review helpful, please click on one of the interesting Google advertising links on this blog to help me out. Thanks.

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