Yoga and meditation, ayahuasca with a local shaman, exploring the jungle with a native community, swimming in a lake with caimans and piranhas, all included in our latest retreat in Tambopata.
Even though Peru offers various stunning natural locations to visit and appreciate, to me, the jungle of Amazon is among the top ones. That is why Zuzka Bartakova and I held once again our yoga retreat in Tambopata, Madre de Dios, this time cooperating with a yoga resort Amazon Yoga Centre – Casa Amazonas close to Puerto Maldonado, as well as with the local native community of Ese Eja, who took care of us and our clients later on, when we moved deeper into the jungle, to stay in their eco lodge Tres Chimbadas, named after the lake by which it is located.
The retreat program combined traditional Hatha yoga practice and relaxing yoga styles (yoga nidra, yin yoga, restorative yoga) with deep spiritual purification and knowledge of the Amazon jungle. A chocolate ritual, a purification ritual with palo santo (sandalwood), a sacred chants ceremony and other rituals were included, as well as two ayahuasca ceremonies which were led by a local shaman from the Ese Eja community, Gil.
We were helped greatly by a wonderful Peruvian guide, Patricia Escalante, who took us on various jungle walks with the natives and had a lot of information to share concerning the fauna and flora in the wild – by the way, she can spot a monkey or a caiman from a distance where no one else could spot it! We tried out water from bamboo and lianas which was delicious and perfectly filtered through the plants.
Amazon Yoga Centre
We spent the first two nights in Amazon Yoga Centre – Casa Amazonas, a half-an-hour taxi-drive from the centre of Puerto Maldonado, to be closer to the adventures such as Monkey Island kayaking, the suspended bridges and zip lines in the Paradise Amazon Lodge and Adventure, and the Amazon Shelter, a rescue station for jungle wildlife founded by dedicated Mrs Magala who guides her guests through the station, acquainting them with the fate of the individual animals and the issues of animal protection in the Amazon. The entrance fee is 60 soles for foreigners and 50 for locals.
Located amidst a jungle forest, the yoga centre offers a peaceful and very chamber-like lodging (just about 10 rooms in the whole complex). There is great vegetarian/vegan food available, little data access, beautiful and perfectly well-equipped yoga shala and the staff prepares delicious tea before/after each class. There is a place available to have a bonfire, the double rooms are cosy and the bathrooms spacious. Everything is kept clean and there is a great focus laid on ecological details which we appreciated greatly. We sadly had no chance to meet the owner, Vanessa, about whom we have heard legends.
Tres Chimbadas Lodge
Tres Chimbadas Lodge is a spectacular place for anyone searching peace amidst the deep jungle, by a lake. One has to walk through the jungle forest to get to the lodge for about 30 minutes from the boat (the Tambopata river). The lodge is owned by the Ese Eja community, who are welcoming, kind and helpful. They showed us their farm, how to fish (even piranhas from the lake, which were later released back to the water, unharmed), how to harvest Brazil nuts in the forest (only possible in February and March when the nuts fall down from the trees). There is only cold water available but in the temperatures there it´s just fine. The food was delicious, for us – upon prior agreement – mostly vegan/vegetarian.
On the way to this lodge, we stopped by the Ese Eja Infierno community to see their crafts and their traditional folklore legacy. Their typical handcrafted products are made of seeds (earrings or necklaces), including the popular protective huaruro, or lianas, such as the artisanal baskets they make.
Upon arrival to the lodge, we observed several protected species of caimans in the lake and a baby caiman was carefully taken out of the water by a native person to show us the details on its body. We were allowed to touch the animal (with no creams and repellents on hands) before it was released back to the water. It was quite an experience.
In the area of Madre de Dios, there are various parrot clay licks where one can observe smaller parrot species in the morning and bigger species, such as Ara parrot, in the afternoon. They come to eat the clay which they sometimes share with squirrels. Parrots can live quite long if no predators kill them (until about 80 years of age) and they are known to have only one partner for their whole life. The clay licks thus are also a way to encounter the prospective partner, something like a dating area indeed.
What to See in the National Reserve of Tambopata
One of the main places people visit is Lake Cocococha, where one can observe otters. We were lucky enough to encounter a whole family right by the observation house.
Another place of interest is a 40-meter-high tower called simply La Torre, from where one can observe Ara parrots flying over the tree crowns at around four thirty in the afternoon. Later, it is a perfect spot to enjoy the sun setting at one side and the moon coming out on the other.
Walking through the primordial forest in the reserve of Tambopata you can learn about the medicinal herbs of the Amazon, from sangre de drago to chuchuwasi. You can taste cordoncillo (which literally makes the mouth wooden for a few minutes; this plant is used as an anaesthetic for toothache), quinine (which belongs to the Peruvian state emblem), paca (bamboo water) and with a good local guide also the water of some lianas which are not toxic.
This video is a GoPro footage summary of the retreat. Please watch in the maximum quality.