Exploring the Amazon

Natalie Witschorik is a student at Iowa State University and an ISA Featured Blogger. Natalie is currently studying abroad with ISA in Lima, Peru.

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Amazon River

My final trip with ISA was to the rainforest and the Amazon River. While this place was breathtaking and finding words to describe my experience has been tricky, it was also sad because it signified the end of my time in Lima and my time with ISA.

We flew to Iquitos, the largest city in the rainforest which can only be reached by either plane or boat. However, we didn’t waste much time in Iquitos; we quickly hopped into a bus and headed to the port where we would take boats to our hotel where we would stay for the remainder of our weekend. Let me tell you, ISA treats you really well when you travel on trips with them. Our little hotel was perfect — just off the side of the river and isolated so all you heard was nature, which is loud even for those who are used to living in a busy city like Lima. From 5:30-6:00 am the sounds of nature begin with a wake up call from the birds chirping outside of your bungalow. The refreshing sounds of the rainforest continue throughout the day until you are falling asleep as the rain falls against the roof and windows. These sounds made the experience more authentic. Also, I learned that food in the Amazon is to die for and all the fresh mango that was available to gobble down made me one happy camper.

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Sloth sighting! If you look closely you can see a baby on her belly.

While exploring the Amazon, I had the opportunity to go on a night hike through the rainforest where I saw some frogs, deadly spiders and even a few monkeys! No trip to the jungle is complete without a monkey or two. Also, we went on a night adventure to find some caimans, animals similar to alligators, but that was tricky because who would have considered bringing a flashlight to the jungle? Luckily,  our guides had flashlights and we found ourselves a decent sized one. All of these activities were exciting and adventure-filled, including the ants we saw while hiking — bullet ants, just a few bites from these suckers and you are in trouble. I am glad I made it away without any battle wounds.

During the day we would all climb onto our boats and head out for a day of adventure and fun. One activity we did while out and about was swimming in the Amazon River.  This was by far the coolest thing I have done in my life, well, at least one of the coolest. The river was warm and cold at the same time; it all depended on where you were and what pocket of water you passed through. However one thing to beware of if you ever go for a swim in the Amazon is that there are fish that will try to bite you. Don’t worry, I am not talking about piranhas. Swimming in the river was one more check off of the bucket list. But don’t go swimming where the Amazon starts because at this location you will find cyclones, and it can be extremely dangerous.

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ISA students enjoying a refreshing dip in the river

Overall exploring the Amazon was an amazing experience, and I learned that the rain in the rainforest isn’t just a nice sun shower it is a heavy downpour that comes out of left field.

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