The trip to Tingana started from Moyobamba, Peru – a city of 70,000 nicknamed the City of the Orchids, as there are some 3,500 orchid species native to the area. Zipping by cacao and coffee plantations, our group made it safely to Rio de Mayo. We then hopped on a boat that slowly pushed through the river’s current to our destination. The guide turned the craft into a narrow canal heading toward Tingana that anyone else would have passed right by.
Situated in Peru’s high jungle, Tingana was founded by seven families for the purpose of preserving the natural resources of the municipal conservation area called Asociacion Hidrica Aguajal Renacal del Alto Mayo. With community leadership and support, Tingana has been developed to promote the noble causes of ecotourism and conservation.
Tingana’s 8,596 acres offer not only an extremely vital conservation area for the local plants and animals, but also help to protect the precious water supply for nearby cities and towns. Over 100 species of birds are native to the area, making it a popular destination among bird watchers. From the months of October to April, much of the conservation area is underwater, offering a unique jungle experience that necessitates travel by canoe.
As our boat pulled up to Tingana ecolodge, members of the community were preparing our breakfast. Two tree-fort-like ecolodges were built high among the tree branches where marauding insects would not venture at night.
Breakfast was a delicious treat, with plates of local dishes from the jungle. After a healthy feast of bread, yucca, eggs, coffee, and smoothies concocted from freshly picked fruit, our tour in hand-crafted dugout canoes began.
The Avisado River canoe tour was incredible and strangely similar to the experience one has while canoeing through the swampy rivers of the Florida Everglades. Tree branches ladened with orchids and bromeliads stretched out over the brown water, forcing us to duck several times as they seemed to come out of nowhere. The sounds and sights of nature’s splendor surrounded us, and the chirping of birds served as a constant soundtrack as we ventured deeper into the swampy jungles. Our guide pointed out many birds that our untrained eyes would never have spotted among the thick greenery above and around us. With his lifetime of experience in this beautiful land, he was even able to identify birds merely by their call! We spoke quietly to keep from disturbing the wildlife, enthralled by the cacophony on the natural orchestra playing on among the verdant jungle.
Before turning back to the ecolodge, we made a few stops, relaxing at a lookout point overlooking Tingana. High up in the tree tops, we enjoyed the breeze blowing against our faces – I could have spent all day up in that perch. From our vantage point we could hear the calls of monkeys crying out to each other in the distance. Our next stop was at a small landing where we swung from vines dangling from a tree. It was hard for me to trust the guide that it was really safe to jump from the tree with nothing to support my weight but vines, but I made the leap of faith – even though I was the first to try! I enjoyed myself & made it back to the canoe in one piece.
Between our stops we fished with a cane pole, using native berries as bait. Though I fished for almost the entire time and caught only one small fish, our guide fished for what must have been only five minutes and caught about six fish. A real Tingana native, our guide not only was a natural navigator of these jungle streams with a wealth of knowledge about the birds and animals…but he also knew how to fish!
Upon our return to the ecolodge, we swapped canoe for hammock and enjoyed a well-earned siesta, departing for Moyobamba thereafter. As we departed, Tingana bestowed us with a final treat as monkeys came scurrying from the treetops, seemingly bidding us farewall.
Our experience at Tingana was one of a kind, a truly unique Peruvian adventure that may just be my favorite in the entire country. Had I know how much I would enjoy my stay at Tingana, I would have changed my itinerary to allow for a longer stay. If you travel to Peru, this is a destination that should be on your list of must-see places!