I have a confession to make. I like glamping. I love glamping way more than I like camping. That’s mostly because I love beds and I love showers. I can do without those two things, but if you’re going to give me those comforts combined with nature intensive but modern conveniences lacking aspects of real camping, then I’ll be a real happy camper.
And that right there is the reason I fell in love with Inkaterra Hacienda Concepcion.
A fantastic member of the reception staff picked us up at the airport, and drove us to a lovely little spot on the Madre de Dios river. We sat there until out canoe was ready to bring us to the hotel. Yep, you read that right. There are no roads going to Inkaterra Hacienda Concepcion, only boats. The wonderful part is that this canoe is motorized, so all we had to do was sit back and enjoy the ride.
Once we made it to the hotel, who’s address is literally just a measurement of how many kilometers up the river they are, it was finally revealed to us just how isolated we were, but also just how pampered we were going to be. The lodge smelled better than anything I have ever smelled, and we were greeted with hot towels and possibly the best lemonade I’ve ever had. And I’m a lemonade connoisseur. We were informed that everything in our trip was included, with the exception of drinks. So we had our first lunch there, a buffet, and then headed to our room for an hour before our first excursion.
We were located in the lodge, not a cabana, which overall was a better fit for us. I never saw the inside of a cabana, but from what I’ve heard, the only benefit is that they’re more isolated. We did not have to use mosquito netting when we slept though, so isolation was something we happily gave up. The other benefit of being in the main lodge is that the wifi reached our room. It was a much better connection in the common areas, but I could still do a few things from my bed. As long as it was within the hours of 4 AM – 3 PM and 6 PM – 10 PM. Those were the only hours with electricity. In the whole place.
We had our first activity that afternoon, a short walk through the rainforest, on a path that branched off of the main path to the lodge. We didn’t have to go very far at all. That’s when we met our guide for the weekend. The beauty of Inkaterra is that they match you with guests who arrive on the same day as you, and keep all of you together, with the same guide, for the entire stay. And I have to say, it took a whopping ten minutes before our guide took a hit for me. We came up to a tree, and he told all of us to stay back, except one volunteer. And I was voluntold, thanks travel buddy. So my main man gave me a knife, which was obviously his first mistake, and told me to use it to tap a certain spot on the tree. After what felt like an eternity, with everyone else gasping and understanding what was happening, with me looking around like a fool trying to figure out what we were looking at, and next thing I know our guide grabbed my hand, and then when he withdrew he threw something away. At which point I looked at the tree and saw fire ants crawling everywhere. Including a couple on my hand. That he rescued me from. We ventured onward, learning about the rainforest that surrounded us, even coming across a walking palm tree. It doesn’t walk very fast, but these trees have evolved to be mobile, so they can grow towards the gaps in the canopy, reaching toward the sun.
After that walk we enjoyed some much needed downtime. We had talked to people throughout our trip who went to resorts like these before anywhere else in Peru, and I must say, they did it backwards. With so much hustle and bustle going on throughout the entire trip, it was nice to have such a perfect place to unwind at. When sitting outside our room, there was nothing between us and the rainforest except screens. Which meant that as I sat there reading a book* I got caught up in the screams from howler monkeys, the gentle chirp of birds, and the breeze rustling the leaves. There is no better way to describe it than a perfectly lazy afternoon. We were sitting in semidarkness because the power wasn’t on for the evening yet, and I was able to embrace the stillness, watching the gentleman lighting the torches lining the path outside, every couple steps a new light in the dusk, until I was bathed in light as the generator turned on.
That meant that it was finally dark enough to embark on our evening adventure, chasing caiman in a canoe. I have to admit, I have a pretty extreme fear of gators, so although they’re smaller than their American counterparts, I was not too eager to encounter any. I was forced to face my trepidations however as we saw around five of the little guys.
We thankfully went to dinner following that, because I had reached my threshold for terrifying things. Dinner was spectacular, like every meal we had there, and I found myself perfectly exhausted and ready for bed. One huge tip, if you’re still awake when the generator turns off, make sure to turn the light switch off, and not turn any on if you get up during the night, otherwise you’re going to have a very rude awakening at 4 AM. The first night we avoided that, and instead got a gentle knock at our door at 5 AM. It was time to start our next excursion.
The morning held for us a couple short hikes, and a climb into the rainforest canopy. There were around a million stairs, but we were rewarded with a view most people don’t get. Then we went through a series of rope bridges, swinging back and forth with each step, keeping our fingers crossed and hoping we would see some monkeys, or some birds. We were luckier with the latter, if you were comfortable enough to look around. When we got back to the forest floor we were able to see more birds with a spotting scope. All and all it was a productive couple of hours, that left me dying for lunch.
We had some more downtime that afternoon, and then we were off on our last adventure, and our longest adventure. We took a canoe to the Lake Sandoval entry point, where we hiked somewhere between 3K and 5K (depends on who you ask) to the lake. On that hike we finally saw monkeys, and then we hopped into a different boat where we got to see some more caimans, (YUCK) some more monkeys, (cute) and my personal favorite, otters. There’s just something so amazing about seeing these animals in the wild, just doing their thing. They couldn’t care less about us, they just kept hanging out.
We stayed out on the water, eating apples and homemade granola bars, and watching the sunset. It was bittersweet, noting that this would be my last real Peruvian sunset. (There was one other that happened while I was in the confines of Lima International, but I don’t think that really counts.) As the sun sank lower and lower over the trees, our anticipation grew and grew. Remember that walk we took to get to the lake? Well once the sun went down, we had to walk back. We were all equipped with flashlights, and a hefty dose of heebie jeebies. We were on the lookout of ants and snakes and tarantulas. We saw ants and tarantulas galore, but no snakes. Not that I consider that to be a bad thing. It really was a trying walk, but we all made it out alive.
It was bittersweet hopping in that canoe for the trip back. Sure, it meant we survived, but I also meant our Amazonian adventures were over. In hardly any time at all we’d be back to civilization, and back to the mundanity of everyday life. Tomorrow’s only adventure would be navigating airports, and sleeping on planes.
What a place to dwindle away a few hours though. The next day we ate breakfast, relaxed in hammocks that had been calling to us for the last few days, and just absorbed the last moments of that gentle breeze and the soothing sounds that had engulfed us from day one.
Before we knew it, our morning of restoration was over. It was time to sign the guest book, and board the canoe for the last time. As I sat there in my life vest, feeling the wind in my hair and the sun gently warming my face, I felt a calm that traveling has never made me feel. And that alone is reason enough to reccomend Inkaterra to you.
- All meals are included. Breakfast and lunch are buffets, dinner is tableservice. One morning breakfast also offered a menu as an alternative however.
- There is a store in the lodge, with small souvenirs, and all the necessary toiletries. Including bug spray.
- There is also a spa onsite, but you have to book treatments in advance.
- Nothing is particularly strenuous, but you should dress as if it were. Long pants and sleeves are a must because of the mosquitos, hiking boots are definitely recommended. I survived in running tights, t-shirts, and sneakers, but I wouldn’t recommend it.
- Every guide is excellent, and this is the specific reason that I didn’t name mine. No matter who you are paired with, it’ll be a positive experience. (Flip through the guest book if you don’t believe me.)
- There are add on packages, but a lot of them require a certain number of people before it’ll happen. It helps to befriend the people in your group so that they’ll be more likely to join you.
- Take the time to learn the employees names. There aren’t that many guests, so they will know your name, and they expect the same courtesy in return.
- A gratuity is included in your fare, however if you wish to leave an extra tip you can do so when you check out. You’ll be able to designate who gets how much of it if you choose to do so.
*I read a lot, do you folks? Would a “What I’m Reading on the Road” segment interest you? Let me know what you think.