Okay yeah, I got married a couple of months ago. I’m aware it’s an embarrassing activity to engage in voluntarily, so can we just skip to the travel part? Thanks.
Also, this blog’s title is clickbait because we visited other parts of Peru besides the Amazon Rainforest, but the jungle certainly stood out.
My partner got a good deal on the tickets early in the year. He paid around $400 CAD per person for the round trip (Toronto to Lima and back). He planned to gift me the trip for my birthday, but since we ended up tying the knot a couple months later, we called it our honeymoon.
Why the Amazon?
Peru is famous for many things: Alpacas, Machu Pichu, ceviche… the list goes on. But you might not know that Peru also hosts the second-largest portion of the Amazon rainforest after Brazil. Over 60% of the country is covered by dense forests on the east side of the Andes, yet only 5% of Peruvians live there. The region, famously dubbed the lung of the Earth, crosses into Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil and Bolivia.
But let’s face it, a jungle with bugs isn’t ideal for many people, let alone couples on their honeymoons. But my journalistic curiosity about the Amazon and my partner’s Tarzan wannabe-ness overpowered the reservations of being nature-emersed for a few days.
Here are some surprising ways the Amazon brought us closer together.
The tree house on the brink of the jungle
Linked to the outside world by air and river, Iquitos is the world’s largest city that can’t be reached by road. When planning, we debated on whether we should just book a hotel in the city, but my inner kid, who always wanted her own treehouse, took the wheel, and we settled on a place on the outskirts of the town, right on the Nanay River.
In western culture, treehouses represent a sense of freedom and innocence, values I’ve held close, especially through my single days. But treehouses also give off practicality and safety vibes, given the circumstances. So, I’m essentially saying that if being newly married was a building, it would be a treehouse: a balance between holding on to yourself while trusting someone else.
The treehouse we got was quiet and secluded and the ideal place to forget about the rest of the world for a few days, especially after the extreme socializing through the wedding events.
I’m not here to explain what ayahuasca is or what your moral compass says about it, but I am all for pushing mental and spiritual boundaries when I feel safe.
Our host connected us with her shaman, who conducted the ceremony at our accommodation (the treehouse). Ayahuasca didn’t quite meet our expectations, but I enjoyed being part of the ceremony and opening myself up to something new.
I’d be hesitant to take this kind of psychedelic medicine alone in the middle of the jungle, but having my partner with me was reassuring. The shaman also read our energies and talked to us about them after. He pointed out things that applied to us as individuals and also stuff we needed to work on together.
My partner and I travel often and love trying new things, so there isn’t much we haven’t done. Riding into the Amazon River and seeing a pack of pink dolphins, on the other hand, was definitely something new for us both.
The Amazon River is the second largest river in the world (just a few km short of the Nile) and is home to incredible marine life. Not only did we learn so much about the river from our guide, but this was the moment the trip finally sank in for me. Every time I’m in a new place, I get carried away in keeping myself busy, but my partner has this incredible ability to remind me of the moment. I was taking his photo on the boat, and I saw this big smile on his face, and it hit me – the gratitude for seeing this incredible planet, the privilege of being there, the euphoria of everything new.
While on the river, we stumbled upon a floating restaurant with a pool. The place was so cool that we ended up visiting it twice. The second time around, we met another couple we clicked with and ended up in another floating restaurant for an afterparty.
On our first day in Iquitos, we booked a 3-hour hike into a reserve in the Amazon. Our guide explained some of the native beliefs attached to the plants and gave us a rundown on what could kill us or save us if we tried to live off the land. Although some tribes still live deep in the jungle, we were the only ones there for as far as I could see. It was giving Survivor vibes.
My partner’s always been big on nature and camping, so seeing him in his element reminded me of how different we are and how great that is.
When we sat for a quick break, the guide told me he could barely keep up with us because we hiked fast. It was a sign from the universe that we also had stuff in common.
There is rain, and then there is tropical rainforest rain. Maybe it’s the South Asian in me saying this, but I love the rain. I love the smell of rain, I love the free shoe cleaning, and as cliché as it sounds, I love drinking chai by the window as the water rolls down. I’m my own Bollywood movie, I know.
On our way back from the hike, it poured. We were squished in the back of a mototaxi (also known as a rickshaw or a tuk-tuk). Both of us were sweaty from the jungle, and when it rained, the combination made for a fun smell. There wasn’t anything special here, but I remember looking at my partner and laughing at how sweaty and dirty we were. It’s a moment I think I’ll treasure for a long time.
The Amazon is incredible. Never in a million years did I think I’d be here with someone I cared about so much.
Factors like nature, treehouses, the rain…. they’re all things you can find anywhere, so it feels a little silly to slot them in as romantic. I guess what I’m trying to say is that anywhere can be fun if you have the right companion.
If you have any questions about visiting Peru or going into the Amazon, let me know, and I’d be happy to share any resources I came across.
Hope you have an incredible start to the new year!