Tuesday 16th July, some time in the afternoon, somewhere over some beautiful Peruvian mountains
As we flew from Lima and headed toward the rainforest, I felt that excitement build again – the same kind of excitement I had when looking out of the plane window shortly before touching down in Lima. It was those mountains. That beautiful, bright orange sea of mountains and they went on forever as we headed towards the Amazon.
As I uploaded and began to edit some of the Lima photos, I glanced out of the window, seeing the landscape change with each look at the world below. Orange mountains turned to snow-capped peaks, and then to dense, never-ending jungle. We got lower, lower, lower – specks of rain began to hit the plane window, and we landed in an all-out torrential downpour.
As we boarded our mini-bus, I saw our suitcases getting thrown onto the roof – oh no. noooo no no. My Ronin and some other camera equipment was in there. No waaaay was that getting thrown up atop a van in the rain, no matter the waterproofing up there. I made a polite English fuss and my case ended up in the van with the rest of us. I looked a bit of a princess but I’ve begun to learn to be pretty fierce about keeping my photography kit safe.
Bus to boat. I had absolutely no idea how I’d get any shots on the boat to our hotel, worried about my kit in the pouring rain. But THANK GOODNESS there was a roof. I mean, of course there was a roof on the boat. But my worried will-I-get-the-shot brain was imagining this canoe and me sat there crying and holding my gear in the rain hoping to stay dry as we rocked about trying not to capsize.
That was, thankfully, not the scenario. I had kind of forgotten that I was photographing an adventure tour which had a touch of luxury – not the usual roughin’ it stuff I tend to do on my own. Thanks Flashpack, I am grateful for the boat roof. Have I talked too much about the boat roof? Okay. Sorry. I’ll move on.
Arrival. Our boat pulled up to a teeny tiny jetty, we were handed umbrellas as we disembarked and we made our way into the jungle, towards our jungle home – The Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica.
Wow. wow wow wow. The main building was beautiful.
We had welcome drinks before being shown to our rooms. Well, I say rooms. Cabanas. I literally had a building all to myself. And wooooooooooooooah was it the most beautiful place I have ever stayed in my life. I even screamed a little.
After a lot of excitable running around in my room, and photo taking, I joined the others and we headed out for our first small hike around the area. We were introduced to our tour guide for the Amazon – Hugo. I think he realised very quickly what he was in for with us as a group.
The rain had thankfully stopped, and a spent the time learning a little about the rainforest, and just feeling generally very giddy that we were actually there. In the Rainforest. The Amazon Rainforest.
A short break and a sunset later, we headed out onto the boats on a pitch black ride on the Amazon river to try and spot some Caymans. We did! Well, kind of. We spotted some teeny tiny ones lurking by the shore. Photographing here was next to impossible as it was so, so dark and the Caymans so difficult to spot. But, I managed a couple.
Dinner time (amazing vegan options), and an early night.
Wednesday 17th July 2019, 05:00am
I’m not a morning person. But I have to say as I blearily wandered around the cabana at 5am getting ready, I felt an excitement for the morning ahead. We’d be heading into the main reserve of the jungle today, for three separate expeditions – the first being a lake adventure. I fuelled up on coffee, we boarded our boat (with a roof!) we headed into the reserve.
A short, misty boat trip later and we were in the reserve, wandering through the jungle. Dense trees on either side. We were hoping to catch a glimpse of some wildlife but we didn’t see anything – we maaay have been a little too loud (we definitely were too loud).
We found ourselves at the boats, got our lifejackets on, and headed down narrow channels to find ourselves on a beautifully still lake, in the middle of the jungle. It was beautiful. We saw wild otters playing, monkeys swinging through the trees, and parrots flying over the canopy.
I spent a lot of time trying not to fall overboard whilst standing up to get photos of the group. I didn’t… thankfully. A perk of being the photographer also meant I didn’t have to row. I could just enjoy, and take photos of this beautiful place.
We were back by 10am. It’s weird, getting up so early when you’re not an early bird. So much can happen in a morning! I had a quick shower and uploaded some of the photos before we had to head back out again – this time for some fun in the canopy.
As a climber, heights don’t really daunt me. But I can see how they could. Kate and Melissa weren’t too great with heights, so it was so brilliant to see them push themselves and get on these swinging rope bridges, hundreds of meters in the air. Massive kudos to them – I even got photos of them SMILING! I take full credit.
As we came down, Hugo really pulled one over on us. “Try these chilis’ he said, ‘they’re nice’ he said. Half of us were smart enough not to fall for it. The other half included me, and there was not enough almond milk in the world to stop my mouth and throat from burning. Nice one, Hugo.
After lunch I finally got the courage to send the drone up for golden hour. I had been so keen, and so, so nervous to fly the drone in the Amazon. There are so many trees, it’s such a beautiful place. But also – there are so many trees, I could crash this thing so easily!
But not to worry. Golden hour was incredible, and I landed droney without incident. On the ground.
I actually have no idea what time this was. But it was before dinner, and when it pitch black. We went to head out on our last expedition of the Amazon (already!) we filled up our complimentary water bottles with cocktails – and headed out to find tarantulas in the jungle. It was a little weird. Poor Hugo. He really did. have to put up with a lot. The jungle was strange so dark. I knew we. weren’t that far from the hotel but we might as well have been miles away for how dark and quiet it was. I got giddy with our red torches and got a group shot to enshrine this weird evening in a single photo.
Dinner, drinks, bed.
Thursday 18th July 2019, 05:30am
You know when you don’t even have to wake up early, but you do anyway because you have it in your head that you want something? That was me. I had this vision of getting the perfect jungle video and photos, with the golden hour sunlight filtering through the trees. I had been inspired by Emmett Sparling‘s videography and kind of knew exactly what I wanted.
Not today. It was MISTY. Instead, I got something altogether unplanned and beautiful. My drone flew itself through thick fog and found itself above the clouds. Like the view you get from an aeroplane. It was so magical, and different. Not at all what I expected.
And I’m okay with that. Unexpected can be powerful. And seeing that view was. I spent some time packing up my room and getting a couple of self portraits.
We had breakfast and left the Amazon, stopping by to see some butterflies.
Would I go back to the Amazon? In a heartbeat.
Watch my behind the scenes video of what it was like to be a photographer in the Amazon.
Next stop: Cusco –> (not written yet)