Spiritual Retreat in the Peruvian Amazon Jungle – Discovering Tambopata

A few weeks ago, a Czech guide in Peru, Zuzka Bartakova de Saman, and I co-organized the first spiritual retreat for the Czechs in the Tambopata Reserve in Puerto Maldonado in the Peruvian Amazon. The week there was quite a marvel, combining yoga practice and meditation with jungle explorations and rituals, which included ayahuasca ceremonies with a local shaman. 

Puerto Maldonado is located in the south-eastern part of Peru on the banks of the Madre de Dios River. It is the capital of the Madre de Dios region and the province of Tambopata. The Explorer´s Inn eco-lodge where we were staying, is one of the oldest eco-lodges in the Peruvian rainforest of that zone and a great base for discovering the natural wonders of the Great Amazon. The site of sustainable ecotourism, where biological research takes place, is located directly in the Tambopata National Reserve, one of the most biologically diverse protected areas in the world.

Thanks to that, we got a perfect chance to encounter and observe various local fauna, including Aras and other parrots, otters, capybaras, caimans, and flora (we also visited a local farm to try out some freshly grown fruits and veggies) and enjoyed some truly special moments under the starry night sky (we only got a few days of rain). The staff was great, always kind and helpful, even at the moment when we encountered a small green poisonous snake in one of the bungalows or a little tarantula. They always knew how to deal with the animals so that no one got hurt and the animals were returned to the nature unharmed.

The vegan food we had during our retreat was absolutely amazing and included a variety of local dishes.

The bungalows were spacious with all the important facilities. To be eco-conscious, we were using mostly biodegradable cosmetics as most of the products end up in the rivers (by the eco-lodge there is the Tambopata and La Torre) or in the soil.

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. While Zuzka was our jungle guide, explaining to us many interesting details during the walks, I was in charge of the yoga lessons as well as a chocolate ritual, a purification ritual with palo santo (sandalwood) and a mantra chanting ceremony. We also had a welcome and a farewell ritual with white sage and a shamanic drum which I made myself some years ago from an African goat skin given to me as a gift.

Thanks to the cooperation with a local shaman Gil, we undertook two deeply spiritual journeys via a day-time and a night-time ayahuasca ceremony, which was quite an experience right in the middle of the virgin jungle of the reserve and with this particular shaman whose energy of light and love led us through to the essential knowledge and understanding. I have previously written about ayahuasca ceremonies HERE and HERE.

The retreat will be repeated again in February 2022. Registrations are accepted via http://www.eng.martinadolezalova.cz/contact/ or https://cestujemepoperu.cz/eshop/kontakt-eshop/.

Even if you do not plan to participate in the retreat, the area is certainly worth visiting on your own. There are various eco-lodges in Tambopata, which are now open again to accept visitors. Here is the list:

Tambopata Ecolodge – https://www.tambopatalodge.com/en/

Monte Amazonico Lodge – https://monteamazonico.com/

El Nape lodge komunity Infierno – https://www.tambopatatourism.com/

Posada Amazonas – https://www.perunature.com/amazon_lodge/posada-amazonas/

Ecoaventuras Amazonicas – https://ecoaventurasamazonicas.com/

Paradise Amazon ecolodge – https://www.paradiseyakari.com/

What to Do and See in Puerto Maldonado
1. See the city centre, do shopping in the local craft shops and have lunch at Burgos´s which has recently changed locations and is now situated in a calm zone so you can fully enjoy some regional dishes and even observe their preparation.

2. Pay a visit to the Amazon Shelter (via road or the river), which is located close to the city centre. It is a jungle wildlife rescue station founded by dedicated Mrs. Magala, who guides the visitors through the station and introduces them to the fates of the individual animals.


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3. Go on a tour to the Monkey Island (usually packed with kayaking, zip line and other activities for about 50 dollars).

4. Take a tour to Sandoval Lake, one of the largest oxbow lakes in Peru and home to giant Amazon fish called Arapaima, black caiman, and a resident family of giant river otters. In the surrounding rainforest you might encounter different monkeys, sloths, and enjoy some bird-watching such as that of colorful macaw parrots, toucans, a diversity of herons, and hoatzins.

5. Take a boat trip (early in the morning, around 4:30 am) to the Macaw Clay Lick “El Chuncho” in the Bahuaja-Sonene National Park. Observe one of the greatest wildlife spectacles where hundreds of parrots and different species of macaws gather to eat clay. The tour usually continuous with a walk through the river beach searching for animal footprints, some easy trails and bathing in the “Cascadas del Gato” (Cat Cascades), where one can swim in a “natural Jacuzzi”.

6. Pay a visit to the native community of Ese Eja´s where you can buy various locally made products such as bracelets, earring and necklaces made of various seeds (even the protective huaruros), wooden capybaras etc., and where they will guide you around, explaining about their lifestyle and peculiarities.

7. Swim in the river, relax in the hammock, and just chill.

8. Visit Tambopata with its many lakes and amazing wildlife.

What to Do and See in Tambopata (Best when Staying at Explorer´s Inn)

1. Take a walk to the tower La Torre (about 40 metres high) to arrive there shortly before sunset. You will be able to observe the Aras flying over the tree tops, having the sun at one side and the moon at the other. When the night falls, enjoy a walk through the jungle with a head-torch. Take proper shoes and clothes and make sure to use a repellent.

2. Make it an early rise to be able to reach a parrot clay lick (collpa) – of which there are several in the area – at dawn. You will be able to observe various parrots feeding on the clay, sometimes even squirrels show up.

3. Visit a local farm to taste avocados, cocoa beans and other locally-grown crops.

4. Take a walk to the Sunset Point, from where it is possible to observe beautiful sunsets over the confluence of the Tambopata and La Torre rivers.

5. Take a night boat trip upstream the Tambopata River to observe caimans and then enjoy the moment when the ship turns off its engine and all the lights and the boat will be drifted downstream. Under the night sky, listen to the sounds of the jungle and perceive its tremendous, pulsating, healing energy in quiet silence.

6. Take a walk to Lake Cocococha, observe the otters there and enjoy some peaceful canoeing. Swimming is not allowed in the lake as repellents and such might harm the waters in the reserve. On the way back, discover the medicinal herbs of the Amazon, from sangre de drago to chuchuwasi, cordoncillo (an extremely bitter plant which the locals use as an anaesthetics for toothache) and quinine (which forms a part of the Peruvian national emblem). Drink water from a bamboo and hug the giant trees in awe and appreciation.

7. Enjoy a walk to the Tres Chimbadas Lake (where you can also do canoeing) which is well-taken care of by the Ese Eja community.

 

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