Category Archives: South America

Backwater Adventures in the Peruvian Amazon Part 2

Exclusive for Vagobond by Matthew Barker

Nueva Utuquinia is a typical Amazonian settlement, home to around 400 villagers who live in stilted, palm-roofed houses and lead a largely self-sufficient existence, farming their small patches of land and harvesting the abundant river and jungle.

Peruvian AdventuresAchiles demonstrated just how abundant the jungle is the following day, as we hiked from Utuquinia to the next village – a four hour walk through virgin forest. Along the way he stopped to point out tracks left by a jaguar, and later a tapir. The canopy bristled with screeching monkeys and the almost Jurassic calls of countless bird species.

But the abundance of the jungle’s animal inhabitants is almost insignificant next to the sheer quantity of edible fruit that literally drips from the low branches. Our trail was scattered with granadillas, coconas, oranges and lemons just waiting to be picked and eaten. With a few slashes of his machete, Achiles felled a small palm and stripped out the tender heart from its trunk – much tastier than the tinned version.

Amazon River stretchThat evening we ate in the village, a feast of what we had gathered along with a treat from the river; several large piranhas. I tried not to wonder on what they themselves had been fattened.

The journey back to town took another two days, thanks in part to a series of blockages in the think channels; driftwood, logs and swamp that had been washed into the river by unseasonably high water levels.

With each blockage we were forced to abandon the boat, machetes in hand and cut a channel for the boat. Fortunately the water was not too deep and we were able to drag the boat through each time, although not without destroying our propeller and getting thoroughly soaked in the process.

Peru Resources

Boutique Hotels in Peru
Hostels in Peru
Insurance for Peru

Peru Guidebooks
Peru and Around the World
Last Minute Flights, Hotels, Cars

“It’s all part of the adventure,” my friend shouted as we jumped back into the water for the third time in less than an hour. He was right, but I was still glad when we reached dry land and found my first hot shower and comfortable bed in five days.

Getting There

Trip styles in the Peruvian Amazon vary greatly. To get the most from your trip it is recommended that you work with a travel planner.

Matthew Barker lives and writes in Peru.

Backwater Adventures in the Peruvian Amazon Part 1

Exclusive for Vagobond by Matthew Barker

The Peruvian Amazon that most visitors get to witness is not the wilderness it once was. Iquitos, the one-time frontier town in the first rubber boom has bloomed into a small metropolis; the river as busy with traffic as a highway, luxury jungle lodges stretching for hundreds of kilometres into the once virgin jungle.

Backwater Adventure in the AmazonMeanwhile in the south, Puerto Maldonado, the most popular access point to the jungle, has transformed from a small logging town into a chaotic outpost of mass tourism. Five-star jungle retreats, luxury spas, global cuisine and a chance to witness a small, tamed parcel of the rainforest without getting your feet wet.

Fortunately for the more adventurous travellers, there are still a few chances to get up close and personal with the real and undomesticated jungle.

Amazon DolphinsFollowing the road east to its final conclusion, the last stop before the river finally takes over is the town of Pucallpa. From here I set off into the jungle with my guide Achiles on his narrow riverboat. We were heading deep into the Amazon for five days to visit Achiles’ friend Don Luis in the village of Nueva Utuquinia, roughly halfway between Pucallpa and the Brazilian border.

Tourism is a barely developed industry in this stretch of the central Amazon; there are no five star lodges in sight, I would be hanging my own mosquito net in abandoned riverside huts and if we wanted to eat anything other than the rice and eggs we had brought with us, we would have to go fishing first.

Matthew Barker is based in Peru where he is writing about his life. 

Peru Resources

Boutique Hotels in Peru
Hostels in Peru
Travel Insurance for Peru
Peru Guidebooks
Peru and Around the World
Last Minute Flights, Hotels, Cars

Revolutionary Vagabond – Che Guevara

World travel was important to Che. Sure, you see his image on all kinds of clueless college kids t-shirts and hoodies and maybe later he was responsible for thousands of heartless deaths, but you gotta love that medical student who set out on his friend’s motorcycle to see the world.

Che Guevara was an Argentine Marxist revolutionary, author, physician, intellect, guerilla leader and was an important figure of Revolution in Cuba. He took admission in Buenos Aires University to study medicine. His interest to explore the world made him a world traveler and it led him to scatter his collegiate interests with two thoughtful journeys which would basically change his view about modern economic conditions in Latin America.
che guevara
In his first journey he covered 4,500 kilometers in 1950, he traveled alone on bicycle through rural provinces of northern Argentina, and he had installed a small motor on his bicycle. Next he traveled for nine months for about 8000 kilometers on motorcycle through South America. He took a break of a year from his studies to travel with his friend Albert Granado, he spent few weeks voluntarily in Peru at San Pablo Leper colony.

Che Guevara was very upset about the working conditions of miners in Chuquicamata copper mine of Anaconda, Chile. He was surprised by his overnight confrontation with a harassed couple. He as struck by the smashing poverty of the rural area on his way to Machu Picchu in the Andes. Peasant farmers worked on small plots of lands which were owned by landlords in this place.

Manual on Guerrilla Warfare
Che – The Criterion Collection on DVD
Che – A Revolutionary Life
The Motorcycle Diaries

On his journey, Che Guevara was impressed by the friendship of the people living in the Leper Colony. He roamed as a true vagabond throughout South America . Che Guevara used the notes which he had taken while on this trip to write an account named “The Motorcycle Diaries”, and it became a best seller of New York Times and it was later also made into a movie which won several awards. Che Guevara became a world traveler because of his enthusiasm in traveling adventures.

Before returning to his home in Buenos Aires, Che Guevara traveled through Argentina, Chile, Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Panama and Miami. At the end of his trip Che Guevara visited Latin America.
che vagabond
Later in Mexico City, Che met Raúl and Fidel Castro and after the invasion by yacht rose to prominence second-in-commandof those who deposed deposed the Batista regime.

Guevara helped to institute agrarian reform after the revolution and reviewed the firing squads as well as writing a manual on guerrilla warfare. While trying to foment further revolution, he was captured by CIA-assisted Bolivian forces and executed.