Note: This is day 1 of the 7 day trip to Manu National Park
We started the journey at 5:30am from Cusco where Alex, our guide and Santiago, our cook, pick us up in the hotel lobby.
We drive by little villages with chuta bread bakeries and guineapig restaurants and enter Peruvian countryside of rolling hills and small plots of land. We stop briefly in the beautiful colonial town of Paucartambo, all painted in white and blue, and enjoy watching the locals who don’t just wear traditional clothing for tourists. All women wear sandals, long colorful skirts, thick woollen jumpers and giant felt hats against the sun.
The road steadily climbs up to towards the 4000+ meter pass leading to the cloud forest. “Pffew.. Pffew..” The car tire broke. The short break gives us the opportunity to do some bird watching and we spot a humming bird and a pair of falcons on the electric wire. We continue and we just hope that we have more than one spare tire.
We reach the top of the pass, clouds creep over the hilltop and the name cloud forest seems quite fitting. A little ranger hut and sign welcome you to Manu reserve and we start a curvy descent down into Manu. “The road was redone may be 3 years ago”, Alex says. Now potholes, gorges and little water streams crossing the street only let us drive at about 10-15km/h, turning the may be only 50km to our first lodge into an all afternoon venture. The road sign indicates a maximum driving speed of 30km/h (which seems slightly funny).
We pass dense forest, only every 20-40 minutes we pass small little huts and inhabitants, some have a few chicken and other seem to grow vegetables. We stop in multiple places to see hummingbirds and try to see the quetzal.
A worker in the park opens a tiny little wooden door on the side of the road for us; behind it is a little observation platform, one of few known places where the male cock of the rocks come to do their afternoon dance: Flap wings, hop left, [pause for an arbitrary number of seconds], turn 180 degrees. Repeat.
Finally, at around 7pm we reach the bottom of the mountain and our first lodge, the bamboo lodge in complete darkness.
→ Continue reading the Jungle Diary: Day 2