I have funny stories and not-so-funny stories about almost every single trip I have taken to the Amazon rainforest. This one is both of them.

August 2018. Together with a Bolivian friend I visited a Shipibo indigenous community in the Peruvian Amazon. I love to adventure deep into the jungle every once in a while, but this time I risked to stay there.

Pucallpa – Alfonso Ugarte

We flew into Pucallpa, Ucayali province, and then spent almost 10 hours sailing on river Ucayali and its tributaries. We got to our final destination, a small Shipibo community called Alfonso Ugarte, after sunset.

I was psychologically prepared for a long, uncomfortable trip, yet the last couple of hours I felt a bit like Shrek’s Donkey: “Are we there yet?”

Return trip

Yes, it took us longer than expected to get to Alfonso Ugarte, but it was nothing compared to the return trip.

On our way back we had to sail upstream, which means we were moving a lot slower. Moreover, it was dry season, so we got to a point where the water was rather shallow and we got stuck in the mud.

As the boat was overcrowded, many of us had to get off and push it or walk on the river bank. I personally had to do both things.

Rolling in the deep…mud

One of my first thought was “Should I take my shoes with me?”… Little did I know there were points where the mud was just below waist level.

That whole time, there was one thing I was trying not to think about: anacondas. They usually hide in the mud on river banks, so coming across one wouldn’t have been too unexpected.

We did not see anacondas but one of the guys traveling with us unfortunately got bit by a venomous snake. He managed to get the antidote soon enough though, so he survived.

End of story

Do you want the happy ending or the bad ending? You can choose which one you want to read.

Happy ending: after about 2 hours we managed to get the boat going again and we made it back to Pucallpa after almost 24 hours on the river! What an amazing trip it was!

Bad ending: we missed our flight back!

But it was worth it!

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