Flying out of the Amazon

Manu Airport, Peru

Manu Airport, Peru

The radio tower, check-in, and seating area were all under one modest thatched roof. The concourse was merely a  walk across the grass, and the runway was also used as a soccer field when the airplane wasn’t in use.

 

It had taken us three days on a bus to traverse the Andes Mountains, then two more days on motorized canoe down the Madre di Dios to get deep into the Amazon Rainforest.  Flying out would be quicker, an arrangement that our tour guide had made as we proceeded to other parts of Peru.

 

Manu-airport-luggage,-Peru

Airport hustle and bustle

Interesting “airport” and interesting flight.  There were about ten of us in the travel group, and before we could board the plane we had to be weighed.  All bodies and luggage were weighed on a scale like you see at the doctor’s office.  After we stepped off the scale the attendant yelled our weight to the other attendant with the clipboard.

 

Manu-airport-runway,-PeruAfter an hour or so it was time to take off.  They lined us up by our heftiness.  The plane had no aisle and only fold-down seats.  We sat three abreast, shoulders touching, heaviest in front.

 

Scarlet Macaws at Manu Airport, Peru

Scarlet Macaws at Manu Airport, Peru

Earlier the scarlet macaws, roosters, and geese had distracted us while we waited to board; it was better not to think about any of this.  Now we were excited because we would be flying over the Amazon River basin, the largest in the world.  Great sights and great photos awaited us.

 

The take-off was a bit shaky.  Trundling across a grass field is rough.  With the windows rattling and our bodies severely jostling, we were all happy when our little bucket-of-bolts cleared the thick mass of trees.

Pale-winged Trumpeter in the airport

Pale-winged Trumpeter in the airport

 

We had a few minutes of utter bliss, seeing the massive, meandering river from above.  The Amazon Rainforest, so thick and dense, for miles and miles in every direction.  There was much animation and every camera was wildly clicking.

 

Then all the chattering stopped, almost in unison, when each individual body felt the effects of our unpressurized cabin.  We were flying up and over the Andes Mountains–the world’s highest mountain range outside of Asia–in a plane that was not pressurized.  The highest peak is 22, 841 feet (6,962 m) above sea level, I doubt we were up that high.  But all ten of us suddenly had heads that felt like they were going to burst, and every breath was choked short.  There was an older pilot and a younger pilot, they both wore oxygen masks from take-off to landing.

 

Jet and group during boarding

Jet and group during boarding

The worst of the mild hypoxia passed as we began our descent into Cuzco, it had lasted 20 or 30 minutes.  The laughter started up in bits and pieces, the headaches subsided, and everyone was fine.

 

We landed on blacktop and came to a smooth stop.  We all clapped because we were so happy to be on land again.  The pilots seemed happy about the landing too, and then we learned their secret:  the main pilot, the young one, was a student in training.

 

Photo credit:  Athena Alexander

 

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69 thoughts on “Flying out of the Amazon

    • Very glad you enjoyed the post today, Cindy. I’m smiling as I type, thinking about all the places you and I have visited in common. And we both found residence in Calif. as well. Very fun. 😀

    • I do love those quirky airports! Fortunately it wasn’t our first grass runway, and we’ve been on many odd and unique flights since, but this one was quite an adventure, never to be forgotten. Thanks so much Joanne. 😀

  1. When you travel to the “matto grosso” or thick jungle of the Amazon, even a trip to the bathroom is worth clapping! The Amazon is generous by giving plenty of opportunities for adventure. There you hear clapping all the time not because any completed performance… just mosquitos!! Thank you Jet for your post! I enjoyed it very much, I’ve been though those events a lot! 🙂

    • I can tell you’ve been to the Amazon even if I didn’t remember, because you are right, HJ — even a trip to the bathroom is worth clapping about! There’s just always some wild thing going on, between the rains, the wildlife, and the over-abundance of ants. Yes, plenty of opportunities for adventure. So glad you enjoyed the post today, HJ — I always appreciate your visits and comments. 😀

  2. Wonderful adventure you had, Jet! Enjoyed reading the story. How cool to see the Scarlet Macaws at the Airport. The main pilot, the young one, was a student in training, interesting. 🙂

    • Always good to find out that your pilot is just learning AFTER you’ve successfully landed. lol. So very glad you enjoyed today’s post and adventure, Amy. Many thanks, as always. 😀

  3. Nothing like applauding the pilot…on landing! What an adventure. Loved the description and photos of the airport/football pitch. When they’re weighing passengers for the plane, maybe that’s when I’d look for alternatives. Great travel story!

    • Your comment made me smile, pc. Yes, there were numerous moments of thinking about alternatives…lol. So very glad you enjoyed the travel story, and of course, I always appreciate your visits and comments my friend. 😀

  4. Jet I adored going on this adventure with you. I could totally imagine being with you and Athena in the ‘bucket of bolts’. I would have never thought about the altitude issue and the non pressurized plane. No wonder your heads felt as if they would explode. Yikes!

    • Yes, it was worth it in the end, Andrea. But up until you are safe on the ground, you don’t quite know how it will end. That’s the tricky part. Thanks so much, always great to hear from you. 😀

  5. ‘Hypoxia.’ I do hope to never experience that first hand. I’d rather white-knuckle through someone else’s story! Another great one, Jet. Is there anything you HAVEN’T done?

    • I so enjoyed your fun comments, Shannon, I’m glad you enjoyed the Amazon post. That photo of the airport “hustle & bustle” made me laugh, so different than most airports, so I’m glad you enjoyed the irony. And yes, there’s lots I haven’t done, but that’s why I have friends like you on WP to enlighten me. You’ve given me a wonderful look at TX and other places that I never had before. Many thanks! 😀

  6. Wow! What an adventure you had, in the Amazon, up until the end! So vividly told, I felt I was there. I can relate to the airport, the weigh in, and the plane from my adventures, but flying up so high in an unpressurized cabin must have been a quite unpleasant experience. At landing I would have clapped too 🙂

    • I’m sure you have experienced with all your travels, Tiny, how adventurous each leg of a journey can be. That one was a doozy! So glad you enjoyed the post, and I appreciate your visit. 😀

  7. Oh my, what a travel experience you had! – I laughed by the end of your closing line 🙂 Thank you for sharing, Amazon has always been our dream destination, would love to visit it someday!

  8. What an adventurous travel experience Jet!Your accounts and Athena’s photos captivated me from the beginning!Lovely birds near and in the airport,almost ready to fly with you in the small plane.You visited vast areas and places of unending natural beauty,you’ll treasure the moments for good!”All’s Well That Ends Well”,love your passion for nature and of course your wonderful portrait that shows you so content!Enjoy your day my good friend ❤ 🙂 xxx

    • Lovely to hear from you, dear Doda. And I am really happy you enjoyed the Amazon post. Our travel destinations do focus on areas with the most nature and natural beauty. My home is in a forest for the same reason. Both Athena and I find infinite peace and happiness from nature, so it is fortunate that we are able to find it. And I also feel real fortunate to receive your heartwarming visits and kind comments. Thank you so much Doda. 😀 😀

      • It’s mutual,I always appreciate the fact that you take notice my comments and you respond so generously!We live near nature too,thank God our house is on the outskirts of Athens and near a forest at the foot of Mount Penteli and our country house by the sea.I can see how the wind starts blowing and how rain is approaching and how the wildflowers spread their smiles to the warm sun … All starts first here before reaching the big cities and towns.We are privileged dear Jet!Aren’t we ? Best wishes for a brilliant week my precious friend 🙂 xxx

      • Dear Doda, yes, we are lucky to see nature around us and have the chance to enjoy it. I love your description of watching the storm come in, and oh, how I appreciate your lovely comments and visits. Thank you so much. 😀 😀

      • And, it’s lovely when I comment on your work and the only thing I can hear is the gentle waves lapping against the shore or the breakers crashing into … 🙂 xxx

  9. Oh Jet I hadn’t realized what a brave lady you are with your travels. I can understand the loud cheers when you all landed . A mix of heady fun (pain) terror and relief….. worth the view though! Lovely story. I felt every bump! xxxx

    • This is a fun comment, Gill. When I get in those sticky travel situations where I’m not sure I’m going to make it out okay, I revel in the present joy, and know it was a fun life right up to the end. And then when it’s not the end, I’m really delighted. lol. 😀

  10. Jet. I confess I like it best when I know you’re safe at home, sitting at your computer, sharing your adventures…with plenty of oxygen to breathe.

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