Infierno - the Spanish world for Hell - is not, you might imagine, the ideal location to encounter a slice of Amazon biodiversity in the eco-friendly comfort of a five-star lodge. Infierno is the name of an Ese Ejja indigenous community on the banks of the river Tambopata in Peru's south-eastern Madre de Dios region. So called, say the villagers, because getting here from the regional capital, Puerto Maldonado, downriver, used to be like going to hell and back.
Now it is a lot easier. A small fleet of steel-roofed motor boats ply their way up and down the river taking tourists from the local airport to lodges hidden in the wildlife-rich foliage along its banks in just a few hours. The first company to make this wild frontier accessible to outsiders was Rainforest Expeditions more than 20 years ago."
Peru is a very stable, solid country nowadays but back in those days we had internal warfare and a cholera outbreak. There was no tourism coming to Peru so it was a pretty radical thing to do!" explains Kurt Holle, the company's founder.