To get to Juma Lodge you need to take a flight to Manaus in Brazil, from which it is a rather long transfer but also an exciting one. From the airport a representative from the lodge will collect you and take you to the port, this is a short journey through the city of Manaus which is quite a fascinating place with colourful buildings and lots going on – so it’s great for people watching. When you arrive at the port you board a small boat and cross the river which is so wide you’d be forgiven for thinking it was the sea! It is also in this region where the meeting of the waters occurs, which is a strange phenomenon where the waters of two rivers meet and create a line of different coloured sediments along the waterway. We spent a few minutes photographing this and then continued on to the other side where we disembarked and got onto another vehicle to continue our journey.
During this part of the transfer we saw the giant Victoria’s Lily pads and some macaws – so these transfers are not just a simple drive along the road. A couple of hours later we arrived at another river where we boarded a small speed boat and set off towards the lodge which is only accessible by boat. This part of the journey was very exciting as we cruised through small waterways and passed local communities. We saw people fishing and going about their daily lives along with a variety of birds including toucans. After an hour or so we arrived at Juma Lodge.
Although simple the lodge is very attractive with everything made from wood and the round houses which you stay in looking like thatched cottages. Its remote location is very appealing especially for those who have come here to see unique wildlife. We were given a welcome drink and also introduced to our guide who would be taking us on various excursions over the next couple of days. Next, we were shown to our rooms which are individual bungalows and have all of the basic requirements you would need plus (a rare luxury in the Amazon) hot showers and king size beds. We soon settled into our home for the next couple of nights and made ourselves very comfortable – a particular favourite aspect for me was the large balcony overlooking the river which had hammocks and chairs for us to enjoy. Each of the bungalows are connected to the main building via a network of wooden pathways on stilts. This made even just walking to and from the restaurant very unique as on occasions there were monkeys or caiman to be seen. After we had unpacked our bags we decided to explore the lodge a little further and were pleased to see that it has a protected area for swimming. This basically means an area of the river which has been separated with a wire cage to make it safe for swimming – sounds a bit extreme but trust me on a boiling hot day with high humidity this pool was a life-saver!
We were told that meals would be three times a day at the main restaurant area. Breakfast, lunch and dinner would all be served buffet style with a selection of local foods and international items. For every meal that I had I can honestly say the food was outstanding. We were treated to delicious freshly caught fish every day, alongside different exotic fruits and vegetables from the forest, roasted root vegetables, pancakes, pasta dishes and salads.
A treat that I did not expect at the lodge was the fact that they are home to some extremely friendly monkeys! They had a woolley monkey, a capuchin and a baby howler monkey which would happily take food from your hand, climb onto your lap and even play with your hair. Without a doubt these playful creatures made everybody’s stay quite unforgettable. In the following days that we spent at Juma Lodge we were treated to a variety of excursions such as bird watching, boat safaris, piranha fishing and jungle walks. Each of these activities was shared between myself, my partner and one other couple which made the experience very intimate, and due to the small group size, we were much more likely to see wildlife.
Clearly this approach worked as we saw an incredible amount of birds and animals including river dolphins, caiman, parrots, toucans, tarantulas, 4 different species of monkey, lots of sloths and too many birds to mention here! With such a large variety of activities we certainly weren’t disappointed and felt we really got to know the area both on the water and on the land. Kayaking through the flooded forest was a particular highlight for me. All too soon our time at Juma Lodge was over and (needless to say) our long transfer back to Manaus was somewhat subdued. However our time in Juma Lodge was undeniably one of the greatest experiences that I have ever had in Latin America.