Jungle Sam and life without electricity for 2 day!

Trip Start Sep 09, 2010
Trip End May 28, 2011

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Where I stayed
Explorer´s Inn Lodge, Puerto Maldonado

Flag of Peru  ,
Sunday, October 17, 2010

Part 1

Tuesday 12th October

My bus was not leaving Cusco until 6pm so I had the day spare to amuse myself. Whilst walking into town I noticed a sign outside Paddy´s Bar which said it was showing the Euro  qualifier England v Montenegro game. I hadn´t realised it was on but it was showing at 2pm so would give me time to watch the game have a beer and get back for the bus. I`d not been to Päddy´s before I think its one of the more popular bars in Cusco, anyway I went in just as the game was starting and they were two screens showing two games at the  same time, the England one and Spain v Scotland. I also bumped into Fiona who was who I´d booked my jungle trip with. She was off as well on a 6 day all expenses trip to the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu as a  ´secret customer´. As Fiona is Scottish we ended up chatting and watching most of that game with was far more exciting than the appalling England game. I give up  I really do, I can´t believe how bad they are. Something needs to happen of we won´t even qualify at this rate.

Leaving at 6pm local time meant I was going to miss the live coverage of the Chile miners coming up to the top. I've been following the story since arriving here. Pretty amazing not sure that I would have been able to handle being stuck down there for so long, but at least for most of the time they knew they were being rescued. Anyway I had to go to the tourist office just around the corner from the hostal for 5.15pm and then they took me down to the bus station which is at the far end of Cusco. The bus was waiting and I reasonably on time. I wasn´t exactly sure how long it was supposed to take but it was a long and bumpy road to the jungle...the coach was ok it had reclining seats but no toilets. They even gave us a meal of meat and rice and showed a  DVD -  a very old Steven Segal film...not really my cup of tea and was in Spanish so I tried to sleep . But we stopped quite a few times enroute dropping people off and so the lights would come back on and there were screaming children so didn´t sleep at all!

Wednesday 13th October

I arrived in Puerto Maldonado, which is described as a frontier town in my Rough Guide and is only 3  hours from Brazil at 6am. PM is in the Madre de Dios region of Peru. I had to ring the tour operator`s office and a  gentleman then  came and picked me up on his motorbike. So I jumped on the back with my gear and no helmet....but it was only 2 minutes down the road. When I got there I discovered that I would have to wait for a number of other guests to arrive before we all headed to the jungle but they weren´t arriving  until midday... so I have 6 hours to kill and there was literally nothing to do in the office. There was a  room where they stored luggage so I changed into some new clothes and freshened up a bit. I then read and snoozed before a couple of the tour guides came into the office Marco and Julio. Julio said he was going to be my guide for the trip but Marco kindly ended up showed me around Puerto for a few hours. So Puerto is very different to Cusco, chalk and cheese. There are a couple of tarmac roads but the rest are dirt tracks. They have tuk tuks like they use in India and South East Asia. So we got one of those to the outskirts and then hired a moped for a couple of hours to get around. I had a helmet this time. Marco who weirdly reminded my of an ex of mine Huggy that some might remember,  took me to the main Plaza de Armas we had some food, then went to the market as my sunglasses had broken in transit so picked another pair and I got a hand made wicker fan as it was so hot and humid even at 10am. We then drove around some more, visited Marco´s college where he is studying ecology before we stopped and had chilcano mix a traditional fish dish. The first dish was soup including the fishes head, the other more of a salad with a mixture of different fish including octopus apparently it was quite nice and just over a pound. But there really isn´t too much to do in the town. It is mainly a starting point for tourists visiting some of the jungle reserves. But it will be interesting to see if the town develops much over the years as the road links improve, especially the new bridge that is being built to link Peru and Brazil.

We then headed back to the office and the other tourists were arriving. Marco didn´t come with he was heading over the following day. So we were joined by around 10 or so mainly aussies who were travelling with a company called Intrepid which specialisies in adventure holidays. They had flown in from Cusco having just completed the inca trail. We had a half hour bus ride down a dirt track to the Tambopata River which was followed by an hour and a half boat journey to the Explorers Inn Lodge. On the way we saw some turtles and lots of bird. When we arrived we were taken to the restaurant and given an  introductory talk. I kind of thought they wouldn´t have electricity but I did bring my appliances with me just incase. But oh no, lighting in the lodges would be by candlelight and cold showers only! I was then given the keys to my room. I had a lodge all to myself 3C and with no neighbours. The room was basic two beds, mosquito nets and a private bathroom but adequate for 2 days. I had a cold shower and then went back to the lodge restaurant where Julio explained to me about the caimans (small crocodiles) we would hopefully see in the night boat ride we were taking. We walked to the river and boarded the boat in darkness and did see a number of wee caimans on the shoreline. So that was good and by the time we got back it was dinner. I sat with Juilo most times we ate and each time another tour group so it was good to meet other people. By the time dinner was over (we had 3 courses) and I had a beer it was around 9pm and everyone went to bed, especially as we had to be up for 5am the next morning for a 5.5km (11km in total) trek through the rainforest!

Puerto Maldonado and the journey home.

Apparently up until a few years back this road was described as one of the worst in Peru!  The road link has improved considerably. Not long ago it would have taken 2 or 3 days to reach Puerto Maldonado by Bus, but now it can be done in less than 24 hours, or at least during the dry season. Travelling by land during the wet season is probably not recommended. The journey is 500 km passing through rugged Andean landscape and over the peak of Ausangate.
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