The trip to Tres Chimbadas Lake was the first and only activity where we had a few other small groups, including their private guides join the three of us. It was a peaceful 15 minute boat ride on the calm river at 5 o’clock in the morning, watching the sunrise.
Pulling up to the river bank we walked 20 minutes down a mushroom, vine and flower lined trail, stepping over bustling lines of leafcutter ants and jumping over and running from bullet ants to the lake’s shores. Nestled in the Peruvian rainforest, the Tres Chimbadas Lake is a haven for birds, snakes, black caiman, fish and the precious Giant Otters.
Our tour boat was a makeshift “catamaran” which was merely rows of benches placed on a couple dozen planks nailed together on two narrow canoes. A local boy who’d lived his whole life in a small rainforest village nearby came as our captain and steered the silent catamaran along.
The lake was smooth as glass so early in the morning and the reflections were mind-warpingly perfect. There’s something simply thrilling about The Amazon that I have felt both times I’ve been in it. The Amazon rainforest a touristic destination that is still relatively untouched, the sounds and motions of the wildlife draw you in. It makes you feel like the visitor rather than the almighty human. I’m always aware that perhaps the bullet ants, caimans and anacondas which are lurking in their natural habitat, hidden and all-knowing, may not accept my presence. They demand deep respect.
Who are we with our spray-on sunscreen, hats, sunglasses, cameras and bug spray, thinking we are so powerful and in control? In the rainforest, you are nothing but a tasty meal. They don’t care if you are a nanny, a famous football player or an author. Life is basic here and yet so intertwined and connected with instincts. I love the way that the Amazon reminds you of the circle of life and your place within it.
Everyone rushed to grab their binoculars, including an excited Jair, when we spotted splashing in the distance. It was a family of endangered Giant Otters! Just 5,000 of the world’s largest otters, reaching an average of 1.5 metres (5ft), are left in the wild and we were fortunate enough to get to watch them play in the lake.
Macaws screeching as they fly overhead, toucans resting in the trees, black caimans swimming across the lake and lounging near the banks, swamp birds nesting in the grass, make the perfect Amazon setting.
A South American rainforest experience wouldn’t be complete without piranhas. Anchoring just off the shore, the guides pulled out their fishing lines AKA sticks with a line and hook attached and started cutting up pieces of beef as bait. The art of piranha fishing is… well, there really isn’t an art. Those guys are hungry, aggressive monsters that can’t resist a bite of that beef. The ones we swam with, fished and ate in Suriname were ten times bigger than the little ones we found in Peru, but no less fierce. Jair laughed as he showed us the strength of their jaws and teeth as one snapped his little mouth shut on a leaf, cutting it like a natural pair of scissors.
Once again, surrounded by doctors, pharmacists, lawyers and dentists, I found myself stumbling upon a fantasy that others had saved up and dreamed of for their entire lives before making such a trip a reality. I find myself in a peculiar situation which makes me feel both undeserving and appreciative.
I suppose gratitude, for your accomplishments, blessings and life lessons, is the key to happiness.
Full Name, Age, Sex
Savannah Grace, 24, Female
2. Blog / Publishing Title details?
When I was 14 years old my mom decided to sell everything in Canada and take off with backpacks to discover the world as a family. Unexpectedly, our overland journey lasted 4 years and brought us to 80 countries. By the age of 23 I visited my 100th country. I have been actively blogging since 2005 when we departed, and continue to travel and share my stories on my website www.sihpromatum.com .
I have published two full-length travel memoirs.
“I Grew My Boobs in China”
“… unparalleled by anything that could have been written in fiction.” – Reader Views
“A most interesting story to tell - the locations and characters come to life.” - Writer’s Digest
Sihpromatum (Sip-row-may-tum) is a memoir series of one family’s introspective, four-year backpacking adventure. In 2005, 14-year-old Savannah Grace's perfect world is shattered when her mother unexpectedly announces that the family would soon leave everything they know behind to travel the world. Best selling, award winning I Grew My Boobs in China takes the reader through China and Mongolia (the first of 80 countries visited).
Nibbling roasted duck tongues in China and being stranded in Mongolia’s Gobi Desert are just two experiences that contribute to Savannah’s exploration of new cultures and to the process of adapting to the world around her.
See website for photos and more info… www.sihpromatum.com
and “Backpacks and Bra Straps”
Savannah Grace’s best selling, award winning saga of her family’s four-year-long backpacking adventure continues. "Backpacks and Bra Straps" picks up where "I Grew My Boobs in China" leaves off, offering insights into how family dynamics are affected by such intensive togetherness as well as a candid, intriguing look at world-wide travel and the camaraderie of the backpacking community, told from a perceptive young woman’s viewpoint. This second instalment of her Sihpromatum series takes us to Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, through Western China and Tibet, and finally, to watch the sun rise over Mount Everest in Nepal. Savannah’s initial reluctance to travel and the personal growth she documents distinguishes this raw tale from most travel memoirs.
See website for photos and more info… www.sihpromatum.com
3. Time spent travelling last year?
Unfortunately last year was a very slow travel year, as we bought and rebuilt a 113 year old Dutch house in Holland. That took up a LOT of our time, though I still managed to go skiing in Whistler, Canada, as well as Mont Blanc in the French Alps and visited Cape Verde, my 100th country!
4. Planned travel in the next 12-24months, When & Where?
Previous month, I made 3 independent media trips to Belgium to visit Ghent, Bruges and Antwerp. I will be attending #TBEX in Spain at the end of the month. Before that time I may possibly do a media trip to Dubai for 5 days. In June I will be in Peru (and possibly ecuador) for 1.5 months. A summer trip to Slovenia/Italy is in the works. October-December I will be in and around Vancouver, Canada on an annual book tour.
5. Activities Experience / Preference? (Treking Dry Land, Ice & Snow, Jungle, Animal Safaris, Water sports, Climbing, Aerial Activities)
Certified PADI Scuba Diver, 2006
Two year family backpacking adventure touring Asia and Europe, 2005-2007
Two year independent overland journey, circumnavigating Africa, 2007-2009
Visited 100+ countries, 2005 -present
Expat in The Netherlands, 2009 - present
Travel Photography; Landscape, wildlife, people and culture.
Adventure sports: white water rafting, hiking, sky diving, cycling, bungee jumping, skiing, wake boarding and horse, elephant and ostrich riding.
6. Regional Preference? Asia, Africa, South Pacific, Mediterranean, Western Europe, South or Central America, etc
Asia, Africa, Canada and Europe