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The Ultimate Amazon Adventure (Part 2)

It’s not often that you can lie in bed and watch wildlife at the same time. Like the other Rainforest Expeditions Lodges, the rooms at the Posada Amazonas are open-walled. As I shift in bed and reposition my pillow to look out into the night jungle, I see the silhouette of a night monkey leaping from one branch to another. So cool. I check my phone to discover it’s 4:30 am, time to get up for breakfast before we head to the canopy tower.

We’re staying in a superior room, which means we have electricity when the generator is running. I fumble for the lights – YES – the generator is on. Even better, a green light on my » Continue reading this post »

The Ultimate Amazon Adventure (Part 1)

Thomas slides the paddleboard off the muddy riverbank into the slow-flowing river.

“What about piranha?” I ask as Thomas climbs onto the board, “This isn’t going to be like one of those ’70s horror movies if we lose our balance, is it?”

“No, piranha almost never attack people, especially in rivers,” answers our guide Pepe smiling at what is clearly a common question, “Those horror stories you hear are usually rare cases where piranha have been trapped in small bodies of water. I’ve been swimming in these rivers for years, and nothing has ever happened to me.”

Confident that bad balance won’t prove fatal, I push my paddleboard off the bank and follow Thomas downriver. Pepe and Angel, our sports guide, follow. The scene is like something out of a movie: a winding jungle river, steep red-clay riverbanks, a towering canopy of rainforest trees. Two scarlet macaws fly overhead and a chorus of gurgling oropendolas » Continue reading this post »

Happy Birthday Thomas

Thomas' birthday 2014

Happy birthday to you,
You live in a zoo,
You smell like a monkey…

Oh wait a minute, maybe that’s just the Amazon.

Birders Flock to Tambopata


I still remember the first time I ever saw pictures of the Tambopata region. It was the January 1994 issue of National Geographic in the cover story titled “Macaws: Winged Rainbows” featuring stunning photography by Frans Lanting. One beautiful image of a clay wall covered with red and green macaws seared the concept of a “clay lick” into my mind forever.

Scientists still debate the purpose of clay licks, but leading theories suggest that a lack of sodium in the diet of parrots and macaws in the western Amazon causes the birds to eat sodium-rich clay to supplement their diets. (It’s still hard for me to wrap my head around the idea of birds eating dirt.)

Because of the sodium level in local soils, most large clay licks are located in southeastern Peru. The most celebrated of them all – the one made famous by National Geographic – is the Colpa Colorado clay lick near the Tambopata Research Center. There are so many macaws » Continue reading this post »

Huacachina Oasis


The tiny Peruvian town of Huacachina is the ultimate desert oasis. The picturesque lagoon is ringed with perfect palms and backed by soaring, razor-edged dunes. Beyond playing desert fantasy, Huacachina is also the starting point for one of Peru’s most famous adventures: a heart-racing dune buggy and sandboarding odyssey that will literally stop your heart. Normally, we prefer to enjoy our dunes on foot, but buggy rides are just THE THING to do here.

So during our two-day stay, we spent one afternoon exploring the vast dune sea strapped in the back of a speeding dune buggy. The ride totally got our adrenaline pumping, but also scared the hell out of us. Some of the dunes we tackled were so steep, it seemed » Continue reading this post »