One of the things that is commonly overlooked in the tourism industry is sustainability. I know that is a bold statement, but it’s true.
People spend hoards of money annually booking vacations to exotic places, looking only at the amenities but not really thinking about the places that they are visiting.
Who are the people, what issues do they struggle with in our ever changing world, is our presence causing more harm than good? And the list goes on. This is why we fell in love with Posada Amazonas on our last visit to the Amazon Rainforest.
While it’s hard to bring attention to certain places, the Amazon is the poster child for the need of conservation. Everyone knows where it is and everyone knows about the struggles that are being faced as a result of modern expansion and resource use.
Times are a changing and that has reached even the most exotic corners of the globe. It’s useless to fight it, instead the areas need to adapt. But how?
When we are looking at vacations in today’s world, it is more important than ever that we look at how we can use tourism to actually improve places, not the opposite.
The Tambopata National Reserve and surrounding areas of rainforest face this struggle endlessly with gold mining, deforestation and the native people leaving their communities in search of better jobs in the cities.
All of this while big companies buy up land for cheap and build lodges without thinking about the long term impact of their actions.
Our visit to Posada Amazonas gives us hope that we will be able to overcome the obstacles and work towards preserving not only the planet but the cultures that make it such a special world to explore.
The Amazon Rainforest is an impressive place filled with exciting animals and plants but don’t forget that it is also one of the most sacred places on the planet for culture.
The Infierno Community and Rainforest Expeditions
One of the things that really stands out about a stay at Posada Amazonas is the clear and upfront presence of the community people who are native to the Amazon.
This is because in 1996 an alliance was formed between Rainforest Expeditions and the native community of Infierno to build a lodge that could accommodate the overflow from the other two lodges that Rainforest Expedition owns.
Knowing that they wanted to preserve their land, the Infierno Community had already formed a communal reserve to protect the forest, their gardens and sacred places from the ever encroaching forces of hunting, logging and farming in the area.
They did this out of love for their land and learning that tourism wasn’t something they focused on until later really showed us how sacred the Amazon is to the people that live there.
Today, Posada Amazonas sits on a 7,400 acre communal reserve of pristine rainforest and is managed 30:70 between Rainforest Expeditions and the community.
Great efforts have been made to educate, train and employ members of the community at the lodge, so you are literally spending your time with people that were born and raised in the Amazon.
Over the years the project has become a major success with the community becoming more involved in the management of the lodge.
As they take on more responsibility, they not only increase their share of the profits but are moving steadily towards the goal of moving the management of the property 100% into the community.
The relationship between Rainforest Expeditions and the native Infierno Community is a strong testament of how tourism can be used to conserve the environment and native traditions through sustainable development.
Projects like this take a massive amount of time and effort for both parties but in the end it has created a way for the community members to stay in the forest that they love by sharing their knowledge with tourists and future generations alike.
Being able to see a project like this, up close, front and center is something everyone who travels should see at least once in their lives. It’s such a giant leap in the right direction and really sets a standard for how tourism should progress in the the near future.
Staying at Posada Amazonas
Of the 3 lodges available with Rainforest Expeditions, Posada Amazonas has the most character. The lodge was built with love and it shows in every aspect of the construction and operation.
Rainforest Expeditions built this property in partnership with the local Infierno Community tribe as a way to fuse together tourism and the local people.
Located on the Tambopata River within the buffer zone on the edge of the Tambopata National Reserve, this lodge has everything you can imagine would make a trip into the Amazon Rainforest memorable.
You can’t really compare it to the Tambopata Research Center, but when you put it up against the numerous other lodges in the area it shines through as one of the best; simply because it’s one of those places that you can visit a see a little bit of everything.
The room concept is the same as the other two lodges in the Rainforest Expeditions family; adopting the 3 wall style meaning nothing separates you from the wilds of the Amazon except a mosquito net over your bed at night.
My absolute favorite feature of the rooms at Posada was the in room hammocks, a place to sit, swing and just stare into the lush forests that surround the lodge. I found myself wanting to stay in my room and relax, which doesn’t happen very often.
The rooms are made of attractive dark woods and decorated with local woodcarvings. We found the rooms to be generous in size, with plenty of off floor storage for luggage. They even featured a desk area.
The lodge itself is gorgeous and well thought out. Each section connects to the other with the guest lodging being the furthest from the lobby area. Approaching the lobby is seating areas before reaching the gift shop.
In the gift shop, the availability to purchase hand made items from the women of the Infierno Community.
Once you pass through the lobby you find the heart of the property, a large dining hall and beautiful jungle bar serving the best Pisco Sours and Peruvian beers available. It’s the perfect place to unwind each day, chat about the day’s adventures and make new friends.
While this layout flows well, the character comes form the wood carved statues placed throughout the property. Beside each of them is a plaque telling the story of the figure and an explanation of the significance to the indigenous Infierno community.
It was no doubt one of my highlights to walk around the property reading the stories and connecting with the people of the Amazon.
Ese-Eja Cultural Experience
While a visit to the Amazon is an intimate journey, the opportunity to immerse into the culture and traditions of the people who live in the Amazon is an experience not to be missed.
Newly launched is the incredible Ese-Eja Cultural Experience, where you have the opportunity to immerse yourself in the native Infierno Community and where you will learn the history of the Ese-Eja people.
With that comes all the stories, tales and an incredible journey into the souls of the indigenous people, the keepers of the jungle.
Setup in the heart of the Infierno Community is a museum dedicated to Ese-Eja culture. Walking through the door finds you face to face with Edosikiana, the guardian of the forest.
First seen by Pedro Mishaja in a vision while hunting white-lipped peccaries at the Chuncho River, Edosikiana appeared to distract him from his task of hunting and prove a lesson to those that take too much.
In doing so he appeared as a mirage, leading Pedro deep into the forest where he disappeared suddenly, leaving Pedro utterly lost. The Ese-Eja people believe that Edosikiana first appears as a warning and if you do not heed that warning, you will succumb to his powers and end up lost.
He served as a lesson to the people that balance is needed and that greed would be rewarded with revenge by the forest. Because of this, the guardian of the jungle was also known as an evil spirit among the people.
His presence sets the tone for the visit and walking through the museum takes you on a journey you will not soon forget. My favorite mural and story in the museum revolves around the descent of the Ese-Eja people from the clouds.
It explains how the people weaved a giant rope that they released to earth. One by one they began climbing down the rope to earth, an act that angered the owl spirits ultimately ending in them severing the rope before the rest of the people could finish the climb down.
As a result, the Ese-Eja people were split, with some landing on earth and some staying in the clouds. The people who survived the transition began a new life in the Amazon Rainforest, blending their old customs while adopting new.
If you’re wondering what that has to do with the giant armadillo in that amazing painting, well you’ll have to pay a visit to get the rest of the story!
Continuing through the museum we were shown several displays on what life is like in the Amazon for the native people, including hunting, fishing, building and practices. It really is an interesting and eye opening experiences to dive into this information during the visit.
The rest of the morning included a visit to the handicrafts workshop where we had the chance to meet and interact with several of the women while they worked. We observed a variety of woodcarving and beadwork stations before having the opportunity to shop.
Leaving the center of the community we were driven to the outskirts and walked to an area where they are farm raising a hybrid of fish to reduce over fishing in the rivers of the native species.
These fish farms now provide fish for the communities and we had the opportunity to fish for our lunch.
Tossing the line in the water, the locals made it look easy with the perfect flick of the wrist and seconds before they pulled it up with a large fish attached. David and I sat there for at least 30 minutes and caught, nothing.
Good thing the guys around is knew what they were doing or we would be going hungry.
Lunch was served in a beautiful natural dining area with perfectly prepared fish, rice and vegetables. It was the perfect way to end our stay at Posada Amazonas.
Posada Amazonas Excursions We Loved
One of things that we loved about Posada Amazonas was the large number and variety of excursions that are available. You could stay at this lodge for a week and never run out of something new to experience, which I think is pretty cool.
They do a really nice job of getting their guests really in touch with the whole spectrum of a visit into the Amazon Rainforest.
You get the obligatory chance to see rainforest animals but in a number of different ways. You can hike through the jungle, float on a lake, paddle in a kayak down the river or take a boat ride. You can also climb towers to look for primates and large birds.
You can visit a parrot clay lick. When you’ve had your fill of that, the cultural options will easily fill the remainder of your time.
Being able to learn more about the Ese Eja people and culture was very enriching to our visit. It’s not just a forest, it’s home for them and being able to share it through them is one of the greatest gifts of travel.
We didn’t have enough time to do every single excursion on offer, but we did find that perfect balance between culture, wildlife and just being in the Amazon Rainforest.
Tres Chimbadas Lake – one of the big draws and main highlights of staying at Posada Amazonas is the morning excursion to their on property oxbow lake, Tres Chimbadas.
Not only is there a high chance of seeing big black caimans, you’re given a chance to do some piranha fishing.
Being able to see one of these fantastic fish up close is something you’ll never forget. Their skin sparkles like a diamond and their teeth are so white they look clear. Yet, they are perfectly harmless unless enticed by the scent of blood.
Getting the chance to see a piranha up close and personal is one of the most exciting things you can do in the Amazon. Simply for the fact that they are such a misunderstood species and the guides do a great job of breaking down the misconceptions during the experience.
Of course, all fishing is catch and release.
Giant River Otters – the opportunity to see endangered Giant River Otters is possible when visiting Tres Chimbadas Lake. It is one of the few places in the world that you can still see them on a visit to the Amazon Rainforest.
Posadas Amazonas is also the only lodge in the Rainforest Expeditions lineup that offers this opportunity, so it is well worth a stay for this experience alone. The excursion typically is best when booked early in the morning, just after sunrise.
This time of day maximizes your chances of seeing the giant river otters hunting and you’ll have the best light for photographing the lake and animals too.
Equally as important is that Tres Chimbadas is very far from being a commercial place to view the Otters. No motorized boats are allowed on the lake meaning your chances of seeing them are very high.
We have visited other lakes in this part of the Amazon where we have been told that the giant river otters live, but never saw them because the lakes were too crowded with motorized boats and tourists.
Canopy Tower – there are not many things I love more than being given the chance to climb into the canopy line in the Amazon. Posadas Amazonas features a fantastic 30 meter, free standing viewing tower smack dab in the forest.
Climbing to the top affords a pretty spectacular 360 degree view of the jungle that surrounds the area. I won’t lie; it can be a little scary because the tower is not enclosed. It is open sides with barred handrails. The floors are even open grates.
Oh, and it sways as people move up and down the stairs.
All that aside, it is one of the best places to get a real perspective of just how massive the Amazon Rainforest is around you. If you want to know what it is like to feel small in the world, go for a climb up this tower and take it all in.
Ceiba Tree Walk – the first time you see your first giant ceiba tree is a moment you will never forget. I saw my first one in 2012, in the Peruvian amazon. I’ve seen many since but can say without hesitation that the ceiba trees that surround Posada Amazonas are special.
Usually when walking through the Amazon you’ll come across a decent ceiba tree randomly. I always stop to marvel at their size and presence but it’s usually just one big tree.
The Ceiba Walk at Posada Amazonas however, takes one on a journey past several of these massive trees, all in varying stages.
It’s an incredible journey through the forest and it seems that the trees build in size and personality until you reach the end of the trail and see the biggest ceiba tree you will probably ever see in your life.
I am not exaggerating when I say we spent an hour with this massive tree, photographing it, exploring it, talking to it and talking about it with our guide, Silverio.
You haven’t really experienced the power and beauty of the Amazon until you’ve had a moment or two with one of these trees.
Botanical Garden Visit – not too far from the lodge is a local botanical garden and farm. We chose to visit the botanical garden to learn more about the medicinal uses of the plants and trees that surround us during our visit.
It really is incredible how powerful some of the plants are and how they can be used to treat ailments of the body and mind. The gardens are displayed naturally because the communities use them to this day.
Each section is labeled so you know what you are looking at and walking through there with a guide is a really eye-opening experience to the wonders of nature.
We listened to stories about the plants, their uses and about the ritual practices of the tribal shamans. We learned how shamans are chosen and how they learn their skills.
Of course, we learned about the famed Ayahuasca plant and the importance of the plant to the people of the Amazon.
Wildlife Spotting – Posada Amazonas not only gives you the opportunity to explore more of the culture in the Amazon, but also some fantastic opportunities to view wildlife.
Due the location of the lodge and the lands that surround it, you have very high chances of seeing primates during your visit.
The first thing our guide said when we got off the boat and started walking to the lodge was ‘everyone sees monkeys at Posada Amazonas’. As if on cue, a troop of squirrel monkeys crossed the trail ahead of us.
Seeing primates in the Amazon Rainforest is a special experience and the people that live and work at Posada Amazonas pride themselves on being able to share this with their visitors.
From this lodge you can also access a parrot clay lick, and while you won’t see any macaws here like you will at the Tambopata Research Center, you’ll have the chance to see many species of smaller parrot and parakeet, weather permitting of course.
As with other parts of the Amazon, the best way to see animals is to get up early and go for long walks in the forest.
How to Get to Posada Amazonas
If you don’t have the extra time or money to make the long, deep trip to the Tambopata Research Center then Posada Amazonas is the next best option.
The travel time is tolerable and you get a lot of bang for your buck when it comes to being able to see animals and experience the culture of the Infierno Community that runs the lodge.
Posada Amazonas is accessible from the small jungle town of Puerto Maldonado, which can be reached by flying from either Cusco or Lima.
Most flights from the states arrive into Lima late, so you’ll find that you have to spend at least one night there before catching a flight to Puerto Maldonado the next day.
Most of the flights from Lima will stopover in Cusco enroute to Puerto Maldonado, lasting around 2 ½ hours with the stopover – you do not get off the plane. If you’re already in Cusco it is a direct 55 minute flight.
After arriving in Puerto Maldonado you will be greeted at the airport by the Rainforest Expedition staff and taken by van to their headquarters just outside of town.
You’ll be briefed and then asked to pack only your necessities into smaller bags – storing your large bags at the main office.
From there, it is a 40 minute drive by bus to the Infierno Community Port where you will board a long boat, motorized canoe and start your journey up the Tambopata River towards Posada Amazonas.
You won’t be on the boat for more than an hour before you arrive at the entrance to the lodge.
The picture above does a great job of showing you the relatively easy access to Posada Amazonas compared to the other lodges. They all, of course, offer their own specialities but if you’re short on time and still want an immersive experience, you’ve come to the right place.
This story was made possible in collaboration with Rainforest Expeditions. However, all opinions, crazy stories, experiences, raves and insane love for the Amazon Rainforest are 100% mine. As always.
More on Peru:
- Unforgettable Amazon at the Tambopata Research Center
- How to Visit the Amazon in Peru
- Amazon Adventure at Wasai Tambopata Lodge in Peru
- 34 Amazing South America Adventure Experiences