Sunday, 9 May 2010

The Road to Manu

It was an early start, a 5am pick up, for our trip to the Amazon jungle. The Manu National Park is about an 8 hour bus ride from Cusco. It was a climb of 700m, from 3,300m in Cusco to 4,000m above sea level at Acjanaco, the entrance to the Manu National Park. Haya and I had hoped to get some sleep on the journey, however the roads were nothing more than dirt tracks with massive holes, that twisted and turned, so sleep was impossible, with frequently being bumped up and down in our seats. However the breath taking views more than made up for it. On the way, we visited Ninamarca Cullpas, which are tombs built by a pre-Inca culture-Lucapas. These small towers in the mountainside were used to bury chiefs and important statesman between 800 and 1100AD. From Acjanaco we started to descend into the cloud forest.

The cloud forest was impressive and really felt like I had entered the jungle. The clouds hang over the top of the Andean Mountains, creating a mysterious air over the forest. Until the 1970´s the Manu Park was inaccessible to vehicles until the government blasted a road into the mountainside, taking them 20 years to build. The road has a sheer drop on one side and at every turn there is a waterfall streaming across the road to negotiate in the minibus, often creating sheer mud baths, luckily our minibus slipped its way through without getting stuck. We took a walk in the cloud forest and saw lots of butterflies, monkeys and birds. The brown capachun monkeys got very close to us, they were not afraid of humans, it was so exciting. To see monkeys so close up in their natural habitat and not in a cage was fantastic.
The Cock of the Rock is the national bird of Peru, it is bright red with a grey and white tail, absolutely gorgeous. The male does a ritual dance and sings loudly to attract females, females choose a mate and they go off together for the evening. The female is left to look after the eggs, while the male is free to dance again the next day and attract a new mate. (Sounds like a night at Inkateam nightclub in Cusco!)

We arrived in Pilcopata, a small jungle village, just as it got dark, and stopped in a wooden lodge on stilts. It´s very humid in the jungle which was a nice change after the cold nights of Cusco.

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