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Trip Report Final TR Cuzco/environs and Amazon Manu Wildlife Center (long)

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We arrived back at Hotel Rumi Punku Saturday around noon. They had our luggage that we had left w/them for the 5 days we were in the Sacred Valley and MP. I decided to have some laundry done before we left for the Amazon on Monday. We had some pretty stinky stuff. The hotel does offer laundry service, but they could not get it back in time for us before we left early Monday. There are laundry places everywhere all saying 1 Hr service, but that was not the case for me. I walked down the street to a close by laundry . A young lady said yes they could do it, but it would be several hours. 5 Soles per kilo. I had 3 Kilos of laundry. The woman took my laundry and said to come back later. I asked how late they were open, she said 9 PM, this was all in gestures and my fractured Spanish. I did not get a receipt or number, I kept asking for one and she kept saying no problemo. I join the rest of the family at Jack's Cafe for a delicious lunch. We then were off to Sacsayhuaman ruins. They were spectacular to say the least, we really enjoyed these ruins. This was probably our coldest day of the trip, the sun was warm but the wind was quite chilly. The stones at Sacsay are enormous , the Inca's were amazing engineers and craftsmen. The place is just amazing. We were all impressed by all of the stone work.
Hubby and I headed back via Colcompata to the plaza while our daughter, SIL and friend went on to Ruins Q'uenco near by and Cristo Blanco. As we were leaving Colcompata a big tour bus came lumbering up the hill w/a renegade escaped llama running as fast as it could in front of the bus. Poor thing. Then back to the hotel for some quick emails. We decided to eat dinner at Inka Grill, great food. Live music, nice but very busy. On the way I stopped at the laundry, the same woman said it would be ready around 8 PM. I dropped it off around 1PM. :)
After a great dinner, we did some shopping and then went back to R.Punku . I went on the the laundry and a man is there this time , he speaks no English and kept asking for my ticket, he showed me a ticket and wanted mine. I explained I did not get one, he was sorry , but could not help me. I began to think I was at the wrong spot , I left, walked up and down the street making sure I knew where my laundry was. It is dark and a lot of the laundry/store fronts look alike. I went back in and tried to explain to him a Mujeres has waited on me , a joven mujeres. He gives me a very exasperated look and yells to the back and here comes my lady friend! Whew, I was getting nervous that I had lost our clothes, I had no receipt etc. The laundry is still not ready, come back at 9PM. They tell me manana they will be open, but it being Sunday manana, I am taking no chances and say I will be back at 9. So at 9 I am back.... and now there is a new person, an older woman, again I have no proof, she has no clue what I am saying in my fractured Spanish, she disappears for quite a while, I have no idea where she is, I wait and wait and finally here she comes w/my laundry. I quickly pd 20 Soles and left ASAP . Funny now, but I admit I began to wonder if I would ever see our clothes again. Back to join the family on the roof top of RP for some well deserved libations. Of course the next day being Sunday I never saw it open when we walked past it! Hahahahaha
We were having an early breakfast Sunday and the Front Desk staff and kitchen staff come out of the kitchen w/a beautiful B-Day cake all singing Happy Birthday to our daughter Kristen. It was her B-day, she looked at us thinking of course it was Mom who did this, I was as surprised as she was, she then assumed it was her husband, he too was surprised. The staff told her they saw her Birth date on her passport when we arrived. Then they hugged her, it was a genuine touching moment. The cake was delicious and she shared it w/the other early breakfast travelers.
We had arranged via the hotel to have a driver take us to Pisac for both the Ruins and the Sunday market. The driver was on time and there were 2 men. One was sort of a travel guide (he also drove at times) and the driver. They spoke little to no English. The only reason I mention this is b/c so many travelers expect the locals to speak English. I love practicing my Tarzanish Spanish (our daughter does very well, that helps!) and we are never bothered by the little English spoken. We were off to Pisac, another beautiful day and as we began to enter the S. Valley it became as usual much warmer than Cuzco. The day was hot and sunny.
We really enjoyed the market, everything was being sold from glorious fresh flowers to herbs, corn, potatoes (they have beautiful corn and potatoes). Bones even, live critters and freshly butchered ones too.
There were the usual ware vendors as well. We shopped a little , then met our driver/guide and he took us over to the church for the 11 AM gathering/parade of the local mayors into the church. It is a very small church, there were a few other tourists, maybe 4 or 5. So we basically had the area by ourselves.
We waited and here they come in small groups. It was quite colorful and we did enjoy it a lot.
Then off to the ruins and not to be redundant but they too are so amazing and spectacular. In fact as we traveled in the area around Cuzco/MP/Sacred Valley ….you frequently see ruins everywhere. It just shows how well all of the walls, terraces etc were built. Pisac was much larger than I expected. We spent the day and trekked all over. What I found so beautiful ….there were some solo flute players at various spots in the ruins playing the haunting Peruvian music. You could hear it most of the way as we walked and explored. It was lovely hearing it. There is a lot to see here, the terraces, walls, a small tunnel, steep trails, and 100's of burial sites where mummies were found. We really enjoyed it.
I did want to mention that we did see damage at various places from the devastating floods they had earlier this year. There is still a lot of work being done on the Perurail lines along the river. One road coming down from Pisac ruins is rubble covered from the landslides, you just walk over it to the bus/ car area. I can't imagine how bad it must have actually been.
On the way back we asked the driver to stop at the Llama Sanctuary, Awana Cancha . There is no fee, donations are accepted. We enjoyed it as we learned about llamas/alpacas/vicunas etc. We were able to feed them. There are local on site weavers , there was a man there who showed us how they still dye the wools as they did in Inca times. Beautiful . They ask that you do not take fotos of the cooperative store that is on the property. The shop was a knock your socks off place. Fantastic , exquisite items from wall hangings to hats , sweaters, you name it. Jewelry, pottery , they have it all. Each piece more beautiful than the last.
Tired , hot , we do head back to cooler Cuzco for our last night. We loved Cuzco and tried to see it all, but we definitely could have spent more time here. I was surprised to read some reports that say to just pass through the city, if (and I hope to!!) I return I will allow more time here. We all loved it.

Link to pics from this part of the trip: www.tinyurl.com/36qxzb5



Inkanatura again was great, they had a mtg w/us previously to give us all of the info needed. We were picked up at 6:30 AM Monday and taken to Cuzco airport, (Adios Rumi Punku and Cuzco) there we were met by Lucy (Inkantura Rep), who was also great, we also met the other 8 people who were going to Manu Wildlife Center also. We waited in a small area , they gave us a little briefing, we were weighed (UGH!!) w/our gear , they also weighed our bags. We traveled with a small duffel and back packs. We got on the small plane, all of the luggage is stored under the seats. No baggage area in the plane. I walked on the tarmac to the plane w/one of the pilots, very friendly and spoke English well. He said the pilots are all Peruvian Air Force Pilots. There were 2 in the very small cockpit and one that sat in the first seat. So off we go, easy flight, the windows were very scratched , but the flight was beautiful. Over Cuzco, we could even see Olly Ruins as we flew. The terrain changes of course, the rain forest seems endless. Rivers meandering thru the jungle, truly spectacular.
It was a quick flight, when we landed on a grass runway, that was a first. We have landed on small runways in Costa Rica that look like crop duster runways, but this is a small runway that is cut out of the jungle.
There is a small palapa type bldg that acts as a terminal, open air etc. We retrieved our luggage and were met by our Inkanatura guide for the 4 day stay ...Marlene. She would be w/us our entire stay. She was w/ our group of 5 , plus a wonderful couple from Australia , that would be our group during the stay.
We trekked thru the jungle...really ...to the river and got in our panga type boat that would be our transport for the duration. We loved it, so peaceful and quiet. And hot, may I say it was HOT and then more HOT.
Along the way Marlene made sure we saw any and all critters along the river. She was excited to see Jabirus. We saw them flying and then they landed on the riverbank, they were beautiful, plus we had our first exposure to Horned Screamers . What a great bird! It was about a 90 minute ride up the Madre de Dios River. Beautiful! We arrived at Manu Wildlife Lodge, Manu is considered to be one of the best wildlife/birding areas in the world.
I read in numerous publications /travel books/internet sites etc that you had to have Yellow Fever Vax to get into the jungle etc. And that if you do not have proof they will give it at the airport in Manu. We were never asked and it was never mentioned. But we had proof just in case. Expensive proof too! Hahaha
We were taken up river to the lodge , there is a large screened building that acts as the dining area, bar, sitting area etc. No electricity at all. They do have cold drinks via a generator. And a big surge bar for charging batteries . The only thing I ever saw charging ...camera batts.
Since there is no electricity I expected big pillar type candles...nope... tapers only, in the lodge and the cabinas. At dark everyone used their headlamps and flashlights.
We all got briefed on the schedule and clothing. OK for short sleeves if walking, but always long pants tucked into your socks. Made for some very hot treks to say the least.
Shorts were OK to and from the lodge. The cabinas and lodge are screened and in the cabinas there is mosquito netting over the beds. The mgr of the lodge greeted each of us. Marlene was our guide, she was a delight and certainly knew her stuff-flora and fauna! We did use Deet, we had enough on our clothes etc to fell and elephant 100 yds. away .
So no, we were not bothered by any bugs and I never saw anything in the cabina except those wee little ants.
After we settled in , we took a walk to their tree-top canopy stand. 300 feet up in the jungle. A steep spiral climb gets you to the top. 141 steep steps I think. .Good viewing. Hot walk, the stairs moved a little when there were several people climbing, a little scary for just a minute.
Meals were served at set times and we ate w/our group of 8 (5 of us, our Aussie friends and Guide Marlene). Food wasn't bad, but much better than we expected after reading some reviews. They do ask what you will and won't eat. There were about 2 to 3 hrs of free time a day. It was after lunch before the 3PM activity, when the heat is so oppresive that nothing is stirring not even a mouse! :). The schedule is set.....Canopy Platform; long walk along the trails; early AM trip via the river to the famous Blanquillo Parrot/Macaw Lick ( there is not another lick in the world that allows you to get this close); Tapir walk to the blind; another early AM to the Oxbow. The rides in the river were wonderful, esp. in the early AM, sort of misty , sun just coming up. Breathtaking actually.
I was surprised we had very few monkey sighting. We are frequent visitors to Costa Rica, and you can sit on your balcony and watch the 4 types of monkey w/out ever leaving your chair. ( Not that we sit much! :).....There's also frequent visits from Toucans, Macaws etc. So I think I did expect more monkeys. I think we saw only about several dozen maybe.at the most. We saw Squirrel monkeys and Howlers that we see in CR, but the Tamarins were new to us. Also new was the Tufted Capuchin. Cute...We did add about 200 birds to our list, that was great, plus the Tapir and River Otter ..fantastic to say the least.
Our first AM we were up very early, 4:30 AM , Marlene would come by and tap your door and tell you to get up. No electricity= no clocks. We boarded our boat at 5 AM. They brought breakfast for us to eat at the Macaw/Parrot Lick. It was still dark when we left, we all used headlamps. But seeing the river at dawn was priceless as they say. 45 minute very tranquil ride . Then there is about a 25 minute walk to the blind. It's a very large long narrow building. The lick was smaller than I imagined. They brought very good coffee , tea and juice. As well as French Toast and pancakes./cereal/yogurt/fresh fruit etc. There was one unisex bathroom at the blind. Just out side of the bathroom they have a large metal vat that has water and a bucket. After using the banos, you get the bucket, fill it and pour it into the bowl, flushes just fine. (But truly you are so hot and sweat so much there is very little need to pee. :)
We loved the blind, when you arrive you hear all of the jungle waking up, wonderful sound. Then the parrots arrive by the 100's. Pics do not do it justice, 4 kinds of parrots visit frequently and we saw them all . Just beautiful and OH so noisy! They get their fill as we sit and just gawk at the sight. They leave almost en mass and then the loud raucous Macaws arrive. The Blue and Yellow do not come to this lick, but we did see them at the Lodge and Oxbow. The Red and Blue macaws arrive to the tree tops and slowly and I do mean slowly make their way down the trees, usually head first to the lick. Spectacular!!! Again I can't say enough how great this was. And when they leave, they are gone. We were there about 6 hours total. Then back to the lodge . After our afternoon respite, we walked along the various trails for 3 or more hours. Saw more flora than fauna. The jungle is fantastic.
Shower and then dinner and then a hot bedtime.
Again we are up early 4:30 thanks to Marlene, we eat breakfast w/our headlamps. The howlers were so loud this AM and they carried on for quite a while. We are off to the Oxbow this AM, we hear it's a catamaran ride. So after about 30 mins in the river, we have a short hike to the Oxbow. And we see our catamarans. Not what we expected. Sort of 2 canoes covered w/plywood and folding chairs. You will see pics of them . I really don't know which of the early AM activities we enjoyed more, the lick or the oxbow. We saw so much on this excursion..Macaws,Horned screamers, the wonderful fantastic prehistoric looking Hoatzins. Before we left there were several birds/critters I hoped to see and the Hoatzin was right up there, I was excited. We were there about 4 hours, we were extremely lucky to see the giant River Otter here. He was a beauty.
That day after our rest, Marlene said we were going to the Tapir blind. So we had to Deet up, and head into the jungle, we walked about 2 hours , this is a day that was soooooo hot. Our group was drenched in sweat and dripping. The other group at the lodge had been the night before and saw nothing. They kept saying it was not a fun excursion. Marlene did say for us to bring a dry shirt to change into when we arrived. We arrive at the blind, Marlene had explained that when we arrive, there is to be absolutely no talking, no light, and very little movement. We are to remain that way until the Tapir comes. We each have a twin size mattress on the floor of the blind covered w/a sheet and it also has a pillow. The sheet is clean, but the sharp sour smell of sweat from all of the other visitors is there at times from the rubber mattress I assume. Well, we get in our little space and put on a dry shirt and w/the mosquito nets any breeze at all is not felt. So you just wait and sweat. It gets dark and the sounds are pretty neat. So we wait and wait and wait, it gets darker and darker and darker and hotter and hotter. No one moves ,coughs , nothing. At 8 PM, Marlene whispers it's here! This excursion started 5 hours ago! Hahahaah. We all quickly and quietly hop out to see it. Marlene shines her heavy duty bright flashlight and there it is, it stays for 45 seconds maybe, then zip, it's gone. So we did see it, even if just for a few seconds! There are 2 fotos of it, not very good sad to say.
We then trek back in even more humidity to the lodge, it is late but the beer is cold . We all enjoyed the Cusquena Beer. Then a cool shower and to bed. What is funny that as we waited and waited my hubby said he was thinking about whispering down the row of beds that we needed to mutiny. It was so hot on those rubber beds, sheets or not. Our Aussie buddy said he was also thinking of the same thing. :))
Alas the trip was over, we tipped the staff and pd our bar bill, everything else is included. We left for our last ride on the river. I was talking to Marlene and we talked about what we saw and wanted to see and I commented that I would have loved to see the Capybaras. I swear 5 mins later ..there was a big group on the river bank, babies and all. What a treat, we saw them swimming as well. A wonderful finish to a fantastic trip. They were beautiful! Marlene stayed with us and waved us off on the plane. We could not think her enough, she was just great. She made sure I got the name of all of the birds we saw, showing me the pics in her bird book. Always asking did you get that one Miss Toni? We all highly recommend Inkanatura Travel. Easy flight back to Cuzco, Inkanatura stored our larger luggage for us, we retrieved it and flew on to Lima for one more night. We spent the last night again at San Antonio Abad. We enjoyed the Malecon, we did some final shopping. We had the usual midnight flight back to the US. This for me was truly much more than I imagined, Machu Picchu is one of the world's great treasures. The Cuzco area, I need more time there!!! And Oh The Amazon, what a treasure that is for the world!!! And how lucky that I could see all of this beauty.
Here is the link to the Amazon fotos, enjoy and thanks for reading this long long report

http://tinyurl.com/32pgvbt

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