When traveling to Peru, there are several ways to experience the Amazon, and whether you travel by boat or stay in a jungle lodge, all are wonderful adventures. But if you want to enjoy a trip that also unlocks your creative potential, we suggest letting Mark Wangberg and Connie Grauds of the Living Amazon Peru Project lead you in a hands-on art journey of interaction with local people and natural materials of the Amazon.
The Jungle Spirit
Fine artist and art teacher Mark Wangberg and Connie Grauds believe eco-immersion in the jungle will free the artist within you, even if a traveler has never before lifted a paintbrush or tried weaving a basket.
“How could all this wonderful nature energy not ramp up the desire to create your own art?” Mark says.
The Amazon pulsates with birds, butterflies, monkeys, and innumerable species of trees and plants. All are blended together in a cacophony of high energy and diversity that Connie calls “jungle spirit.”
“The Amazon is the greatest expression of life on Earth,” says Connie, a pharmacist by training and an author, healer, spiritual mentor, and Peruvian trip leader by avocation. Connie has been traveling in the Amazon basin for 23 years and introducing travelers to the creative and healing energies of the Amazon for the last 15 years.
The connections that Connie and Mark have made during their many travels to Peru give the visitor a unique opportunity to “drop into” and become part of the family of artists and craftspeople in Iquitos, the gateway city to the Amazon, and in the Amazonian jungle itself.
Participants are not on a tour in Peru. Rather participants have a direct experience working with and learning from local people who have become part of the Amazonian community over many years.
The creative experience begins in Iquitos. Local crafts women at the CRETE Co-op offer trip participants an introductory class in spinning natural fibers, dyeing with natural materials, and making art with bark cloth. There’s also an opportunity to meet local Peruvian artists and crafts people.
Using bark cloth to create decorative objects is another craft to learn from a local. “The indigenous people have learned to take bark from the limbs of trees and not from the trunk, so the tree doesn’t die and is sustainable,” Mark explains. “The natural materials we work with are the great gifts of the jungle.”
No experience is necessary, but working artists often participate in the trip. Some bring along their works-in-progress and some are inspired to try something new that reflects the jungle spirit.
Heliconia Amazon River Lodge
Leaving the city experiences behind, participants stay deep in the jungle at the Heliconia Amazon River Lodge. There they have time to practice art – whether it’s learning weaving with palm fibers or foraging for leaves, roots, and nuts to use in natural dying or printmaking.
Eco-Immersion: Rounding Out The Journey
No Amazon journey is complete without visiting the Manatee Rescue Center, spotting pink dolphins, visiting Monkey Island, bird watching in the early morning, and fishing for piranhas. So there is time for walks and river trips led by a naturalist guide – even more inspiration!