After being taken to the “wrong” Monkey Island, we were indecisive at first as to whether we should take another day and see the real Monkey Island. We were so glad we did though! It ended up being the highlight of our trip. It was different than we expected. We got a guide who took us to the first boat. This one was through a local market and was definitely more of a local boat, rather than a tourist one.
As each bench of four people was filled, they put in the backboard for the succeeding row of people, so essentially we were crammed in like sardines. I tried not to think about how we would get out in case of emergency…not to mention the lack of life jackets aboard.
Anyways, this first boat took us for about an hour and dropped us off at a large island that was sopping wet. Everything was wet and muddy.
There were the local women selling goods to people who lived on the island. One of the women had a baby, about 3-4 months old by my guess. It was curled up, sleeping on a blanket on one of the only dry boards.No one seemed at all put out or inconvenienced by the rain. It’s amazing to me that they are just used to life like this in the rainy season. We waited for a short while for a man to come pick us up and take us the rest of the way to Monkey Island (we weren’t sure he was coming there for a while…).
Since we were in the Amazon during the rainy season, the waters on the river were very high. In fact, when we arrived to the island we realized there was NO land! I’m still unsure how that physically works – it’s an island….but it’s covered in water, so….technically it’s just more of the river. Ha!
Our boat guy dropped us off at the island tour guide’s canoe and we all tried to board from boat to boat without dropping a child, camera, or capsizing the canoe.
First we saw a few monkeys in the cages. The red faced monkeys are very territorial, and for that reason many of them are caged, but the majority of the wildlife on Monkey Island is just that – wild. Our guide pointed out some snail eggs as we rowed around.
When we arrived outside the buildings, the family that runs the island had some fruit ready for us to feed to the monkeys. It was about to get crazy! Sure enough, as soon as the first monkey caught sight of us in the feeding zone, every monkey within sight was in or around our boat!
The kids were pretty nervous about it. I was a little too, mostly because we were still in a boat and there was no where to go to get away!
But it was so fun seeing the monkeys up close and getting to see some of their personalities. Some of them, the younger ones, were especially affectionate and would crawl up in our arms like a baby.
Olivia was really not enjoying the feeding, when the guide offered for her to sit next to him (he had a switch to keep the monkeys in line – he’d swat it in the air and they’d stop being naughty). I didn’t think she would do it, but she saw him sitting there at the end of the boat, with not a monkey on him, and she happily agreed.
Cliff was still nervous, but as long as I didn’t let the monkeys touch him he was okay with them.
The monkeys really liked David since he was holding the food can!
We had brought lunch along with us for later and one of the smart little monkeys must have smelled it in John’s backpack. He tried at the zipper for a while!
Once the monkey exhausted the backpack he moved on to John.
After feeding the monkeys, we toured the rest of the island. It was amazing seeing all of the jungle plants. We got to snatch a piece of starfruit and try it right off the tree.
It was really tart!
We spotted some cacao pods, too. Cliff enjoyed playing with a stick in the water.
Our guides assured us that piranhas weren’t actually that much of a threat, since like sharks, they usually only go after someone who has a cut or is bleeding. Comforting, huh? We thought so…
Olivia was delighted when we found a snail for her to play with.
In fact, she lugged that thing all around the Amazon and David even managed to get it back to Lima for her, where it eventually died in the indoor plant of our apartment. It brought her much joy for many weeks, though :).
At the end of the tour we got to plant our feet on some dry ground, which was refreshing after a full day on the water.
Cliff finally warmed up to the monkeys at the end and had a lot of fun playing with them before we left.
Like all Peruvians, the monkeys were fascinated by his white blonde hair 🙂
Monkey Island was definitely the highlight of our trip! If you’re ever in the Amazon, make sure you visit this great place! The family who runs it is very sweet, too, and it was nice to know we were supporting a legitimate business. I’d still like to go again sometime when it’s the dry(er) season – it would be a completely different experience I’m sure!