If you’ve ever dreamt of living in a jungle treehouse like Tarzan and Jane, let me tell you, there is a place in the middle of the Amazon that can make your dreams come true!
After spending a few days in Iquitos, it was time to leave the city behind for some time closer to nature. Sam and I still had a few days before our Amazon cruise would set sail, so going deeper into the jungle seemed like the reasonable thing to do.
We drove two hours from Iquitos to Nauta, loaded our luggage onto a boat, travelled upstream for another hour until we reached the black waters of the Yarapa River, and that’s when we finally arrived at a place that looked straight out of The Jungle Book: The Treehouse Lodge.
How’s that for an introduction to the Amazon?
Once we set foot on the wooden ramp that leads towards the Common Hall, the sounds of the boat engines quickly faded and our ears tuned to the calls of birds and the chirps of crickets hidden in our midst.
We dropped our bags, guzzled the fresh passionfruit that was handed to us, and looked at each other giddy with excitement at the thought we’d be spending the next two days living in the trees.
Our Jungle Treehouse
As we walked around the property and peeked at the various treehouses in the distance, we noticed that no two looked the same. The cool thing about the Treehouse Lodge is that each of the treehouses works with the natural shape of the trees, meaning each construction has its own unique design; some treehouses were accessed via hanging bridges while others had spiralling staircases that wrapped around the tree trunks. Since we stayed in Treehouse #1, that’s the one I’ll be telling you about in this blog post.
Our particular jungle treehouse was called Dos Ramas since it had two large branches running up the middle of the structure. In order to reach Treehouse #1, we had to go up to the second floor of the Common Hall, take the first hanging bridge, and go up the wooden ladder located on the first platform. Once we were there, it was just a matter of pushing open the trap door and climbing into our new abode amidst the trees.
Inside there was a cozy little sitting area with a colourful woven rug on the ground; the perfect place to settle in with a book or to simply enjoy the landscape. There was also a double bed with white linens (with chocolates on the bed!) and a canopy draped overtop to keep out any pesky mosquitoes.
Then towards the other side of the jungle treehouse we had our bathroom sectioned off with bamboo shoots; here we had the toilet, a glass lavatory, and a shower. I didn’t love that it was only a cold shower (Sam said it was refreshing), but I’m pretty sure Jane and Tarzan didn’t have hot water either – I mean, this is the jungle!
The experience at the Treehouse Lodge was very personalized and this meant that each couple or travelling group had their own private guide. Sam and I got paired with Alan as our guide and Andres as the captain of our small vessel.
Every day we had the option of going for an early morning excursion, a mid-morning excursion, an afternoon excursion, and then an evening excursion. Since I was so fascinated with our jungle treehouse I only ended up doing 2 excursions per day, but if you really wanted to make the most of your stay, you could be out exploring with your guide all day long.
Some of the excursions we went on included:
Medicinal Jungle Walk
This walk took place on the lodge’s property, so we didn’t have to go very far. In total, the walk lasted about an hour and our guide taught us some of the different uses for plants in the jungle; these ranged from pain suppressants to after-bite ointments. It was like walking through your very own pharmacy, except instead of pulling down bottles from shelves, we were dealing with leaves, roots and tree bark.
The Amazon River is home to 2 types of dolphin: the pink dolphin and the grey dolphin. Tell anyone back home you saw a pink dolphin and they might look at you like you said you saw a unicorn, but seriously, these creatures are real and they are fascinating! Local folklore says that the pink dolphins were known to transform into humans and kidnap beautiful women to bring back to their kingdom under the Amazon River. If you’re brave enough, you can even go swimming with them.
Fishing for piranhas
So I’ve never considered myself much of a fisher, but sitting in a boat above piranha infested waters was kind of fun! I didn’t catch a single fish – those piranhas sure know how to eat the bait without catching the hook! – however, Sam, the guide, and the captain were all able to catch a piranha for us to enjoy at dinner time. So what did it taste like? Pretty much the same as any other fish out there, except with lots of bones and very little meat.
Bird watching and looking for wildlife
I really enjoyed this outing because it was a bit of a surprise in terms of what we got to see. Whenever you go out into nature, you just never know what you’re going to find, but during our visit we lucked out with pink dolphins, sloths, macaws, water snakes, parakeets, and all sorts of monkeys.
Monkey Island and giant lily pads
Monkey Island is an area where they have released monkeys that were once being sold in the black market. Because the monkeys experienced quite a bit of human contact in the past, they are not afraid of people and they also associate with monkeys outside of their species. We only admired the monkeys from our boat, but we managed to see a spider monkey, a howler monkey, a white capuchin monkey and a brown capuchin monkey all hanging out together! After our visit to Monkey Island we went to see the giant lily pads known as Victoria Amazonica, which were made famous centuries ago when someone photographed a small child sitting on top of them (yes, they are pretty strong).
Butterfly farm and visit to Vista Alegre
On our final morning at the Treehouse Lodge we visited the community of Vista Alegre, where the people have partnered with a Peruvian NGO to create a butterfly farm that allows them to reproduce and protect species from the region while also attracting tourists to their community. We toured the butterfly farm and also visited with one of the women in the village who taught us the art of rice husking (FIY – it takes a whole lot of muscle!)
One of the absolute highlights of our time at the Treehouse Lodge were the meals. They had an in-house chef who served up a delicious mix of beautifully plated Amazonian dishes and Peruvian classics.
During our stay we ate things like causa, a yellow mashed potato pie served with a layer of avocado, chicken, eggs and mayonnaise; lomo saltado, a beef and vegetable stir-fry accompanied with rice and potatoes; ceviche, a raw fish dish cured in citrus and served with a side of yellow corn, red onions, and sweet potato; patarashca; a steamed fish dish that’s prepared in the leaf of the bijao plant, and many, many more.
Then in the evenings, there was live music in the Common Hall, so we had the option of lounging around or going back to the treehouse where we could still hear the guitarist playing softly in the distance.
The verdict? We really enjoyed our jungle treehouse stay! As far as unusual accommodations go, this one is right near the top.
If you’re not used to being out in nature and encountering a critter or two, this experience might not be right for you, but if you’re up for an adventure and you’re looking for an unforgettable experience, then this will be right up your alley.
Now for one final suggestion, if you’re also planning to do a mid to high end cruise down the Amazon, I would say it’s a good idea to do the treehouse stay first and then finish off with a cruise where you can get a bit more pampering (ie. hot showers, AC in the rooms, and less mosquitoes).
If you’re starting out in Iquitos, reaching the Treehouse Lodge involves a 2 hour drive to the port town of Nauta, and then a 1 hour boat ride down the Marañón River, across the Amazon River, and up the Ucayali River before connecting to the Yarapa River. The Treehouse Lodge offers pick-ups, so it’s just a matter of coordinating with them and they’ll take care of the rest. Here are more details on how to book your treehouse.
What’s the strangest or most unusual hotel you’ve ever stayed in?
Many thanks to the Treehouse Lodge and Rainforest Cruises for hosting me during my stay.