The road to the river to Manu

Trip Start Nov 03, 2012
Trip End Dec 31, 2012

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Flag of Peru  ,
Thursday, November 29, 2012

Up at half five to rapidly get ready for our 11 hour road trip to the inner edge of Manu National Park.
Unfortunately the 'paid bill' from last night seemed to have been unpaid with dramatic consequences. Dramatic in that our current cash funds did not actual meet the now required $540USD remainder.

Some shuffling and splitting the bill with card payment resulted in it bring finalised but we had to wait for another five mins for the new staff at the desk (possibly why we had to pay the bill now) to write out a comprehensive receipt.
This we will use for insurance purposes and see if ultimately, it does any good.

Our bus had arrived and so had our other participant, Heather, a currently retired woman from NSW. Our bus filled even further by the addition of Mel, an Australian Passport holding American from NSW.
Carlos our driver and Leo our cook completed our Safari Seven.

What to say about the drive.
Well. Mostly it goes up. Up from Cusco, through a village where we stopped for a breakfast of bread, coffee and possibly the best scrambled eggs I've had in a month. Up further to about 4000 metres above sea level where it begins the slow, methodical and danger inspired trip around the outer edge of the Andes to the other (north) side.
The stone outcrops occasionally revealed empty tombs pre columbian and possibly pre Incan. The roads were not smooth and nor did the fill backseat drivers with patience and/or calm.
We stopped at a point to cross a river, which conveniently, contained a town with a market (bottle of water, 1L, 2.50Sols) a toilet (reportedly .50Soles but 1Sole in practice) and an opportunity to view some interpretations of fokelore heroes of the area depicted in gold in the town square, each with a story to tell (told by Edward) partially about how the Catholic Church was doing its darnedest to pull the andian Catholics away from their traditional belief systems that had been incorporated into the modern mountain Christianity.

Back on the van and continuing into/around/through the mountain range, now onto unsealed roads constantly being repaired by crews of workmen, sometimes 10 with multiple machinery, sometimes just two, one in a hoe another climbing the cliff face with a machete for non specific reasons. Edward did tell us that, due to some generic 'politicians and road maintenance = stupid decisions' thing, the only time roads get fixed in the mountains, seems to be just before the rainy season, which is when they are most likely to be damaged.

The cliffs got sharper, the road more narrow. The drivers eyes (Carlos) luckily remained alert and more than a few times had to screech to a halt to avoid oncoming traffic, reverse up a hill around a corner to find a passing point for a truck before heading on down the hill.

The border of the park made a good toilet stop (no actual toilet) and a photo op with the sign.
We stopped at a disused concrete power post for lunch, using its handy surface as a seat.
Appetite may be returning but it was far from full strength.

Crossing a number of bridges we came to a collection of (mostly unused) bird hides that we reached by foot.
It was here, after a peaceful hour stroll that we were able to see the male 'cock of the rock' Peru's default national bird.
Many photos were taken.
And it brought new respect for wildlife photographers.

From that point in the cloud mountain (about 30%2525 of Manu park) it took us less than an hour to drop lower into the 'cloud hills' (typified by bamboo like grasses) and to our lodge for the evening.

Bamboo lodge.
Funky bamboo huts on stilts.
Clean toilets.
No hot showers.
An array of hot foods from our kitchen.
Random conversation between travellers.
Two hands of 500's and its lights out.

Tomorrow we move at 5 am.

Mossie bite record. 3.
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