Excerpted from The Amazon Explorer’s Cub
The official name is the Amazon Animal Orphanage and Pilpintuwasi Butterfly Farm, but the locals know it as Pilpintuwasi, which means “home of the butterfly.” It is one of the favorite day trip destinations in Iquitos as it is located a short boat-ride away.
Take a mototaxi to Nanay Bellavista, which is worth a visit in itself! I found a lively, colourful market on the banks of the Nanay River, right at the point where it joins the Amazon. I arrived during the “high water” season, which is mistakenly believed to be a “rainy” season. It is not. It merely means that the water level of the rivers is high and it actually offers much better river travel possibilities than during the “low water” season.
A short boat ride took me to Padre Cocha, a small river community on the Nanay River. Despite the many unsolicited offers of private boat rides, which can cost up to 10 dollars, I travelled by “colectivo,” which is public transportation, which waits for enough passengers to make the trip worthwhile. The trip only cost 1 sol.
Padre Cocha is a friendly, peaceful, quiet village: no traffic; just narrow walkways and wooden bridges, and small wooden houses whose owners sell groceries, fruits and vegetables, as well as some souvenirs and remarkable pottery.
The Butterfly Farm is just beyond the village, a 10-minute walk from the harbor.
It is a rainforest: hot, heavy, humid air below the canopy, the sounds and the smells of the jungle, the cries of monkeys and birds in the distance. A path leads to a small pond, home to a few parrots and a small but loud group of monkeys!
One must take care of one’s belongings. Welcome signs at Pilpintuwasi warn you of the same. The monkeys are friendly, curious, funny and delightful, but with their tiny hands they will empty your pockets and your bag in an instant. One grabbed a visitor’s repellent and ran up a tree with it; another grabbed the cell phone of one of the caretakers and threw it into the pond!
A deep, growling roar seemed a little too close for comfort. Then two at the same time. What a booming sound! It was a pair of howler monkeys that produced this noise. They seemed far too small to warrant such a disturbance!
In addition from being the home of the butterfly, in 2004, Gudrun took in abandoned and endangered animals and began the Amazon Animal Orphanage.