We finally arrived at Porto Maldonado after 8:00pm and expected to go to the port to catch the "special boat just for us." But the driver didn't know where we were going. Fortunately, one of the guys had the address of the Tambo Pata Lodge, so we showed up there after having stopped several times to ask for directions. Turns out this was the office for the place we were meant to stay.
We were exhausted and bitter, except for Andrew who was happily chatting away in Spanish to other people in the office. They heard our nightmare and were kind enough to put us up in a hotel for the night and explained we could go to the lodge in the morning. Turns out there was no other options as boats don't even go out after dark. That GAP rep from the airport was such a liar!!!!!
We woke up at 6am and drove to the boat. We then had a fantastic 3 hour cruise on the river. We arrived at the Lodge and were greeted by our new guide, Delfort, who had been waiting for us since the day before. He promptly showed us to our huts (spacious, beautiful private huts with mosquito nets around the beds, hammock on the front porch, etc.) and then we had breakfast. Suddenly it was all good again...
After breakfast, we took another boat trip to a local farm. We hiked through the farm, which looked more like a rain forest as nothing was in rows, it was all randomly scattered on the land. This farm grew everything from potatoes to avocados to pineapples to papayas. Very impressive. We also saw the second biggest tree species in the world. I thought he called it a fig tree. But in hindsight, I think he must have referred to it as a Big Tree. It was HUGE!
He also pointed out a plant called Palla Palla. You could bend the leaves in half or fold them up and they would bounce back into shape. The translation is Stand Up Stand Up, and the leaves are actually used to make a form of Viagra. Unlike our guide from Machu Pichhu, Delfort was actually passionate about the area and was excited to point everything out.
Took the boat back to the Lodge then had lunch. Then we took the boat out again and hiked through the rain forest to a beautiful lake. Another educational nature walk, this time he coaxed a giant tarantula out of its burrow and showed us more Big Trees and plant species. We arrived at the Lake and got into a long canoe with Delfort the only one steering. At one point we rested in the middle of the lake and he pulled out a hand reel to fish for pirhanas. Not joking. The lake was swarming with these fish. But don't worry, they're not the evil flesh eaters from the movies. These were small though and not intimidating. We took turns bating the hook with meat but the little buggars kept stealing the meat! Between 6 of us, we caught nothing. Until Delfort gave it one last shot and ended up hurling a decent sized fish into the canoe. L thought it was a pirhanna and jumped up, nearly capsizing the canoe with camera equipment et al. Turns out it was another fish with sharp teeth, which Delfort decided to keep to have for his dinner.
L described fishing on the lake as one of his favorite memories of the trip. It was truly magic sitting quietly listening to all of the sounds of the forest without a care in the world. We even heard a tree falling in the forest.
It was dark by the time we got back on land. Made for a difficult walk back, but Delfort had a flashlight and Andrew (a boyscout, of course) had come prepared with a torch he wore around his head. All was fine.
L and I passed on the night cruise - cayman spotting. Caymans are Peruvian alligators. I said I had seen enough of those in my day so didn't care to go. L agreed. We should have gone in the end because they saw capabearas on that cruise. These are a cross between a hippo and a gerbil. The largest rodent in the world. Oh well. We it certainly didn't ruin the trip.
After dinner we had a couple drinks at the bar and went to bed. The next morning we took another long, lovely boat ride back to town and that was that!
When we got to town, the 5 of us had to go to the airline office to get tickets issued for the flight back to Lima. It later transpired that we were never confirmed on the first flights to begin with!. The reason we didn't get on the flight had to do with the altitude and not being able to carry the extra weight. Hmmmm. Had we been told the truth from the beginning and told what was going to happen, we would not have gone. Or it would have been a lot less painful to just take a flight the next morning and stay the extra night in Cusco.
But wouldn't trade our one day experience for the world. And we are now laughing about the whole nightmare as we suspected we would... And we have sent a lovely email to GAP Adventures hoping to get some form of compensation.