The Interoceanic Highway Trip

Llama with a view near Tantamaco, Macusani, Carabaya, Peru

A llama with a view near Tantamaco in Macusani District

Rocío and my month-long trip along and around the Interoceanic Highway in southern Peru and eastern Brazil was one of my greatest travel experiences. Continue reading

Hot Spring, Waterfall and Flash Mystery: Highlights of Ollachea

Ollachea is stunningly set amongst the mountains, large waterfall and ancient terraces. These surroundings along with the natural hot spring make the mining services town worth visiting. At 2,785 high, Ollachea’s elevation and climate lie between tropical San Gaban 54 kilometres north and tundra Macusani 49 kilometres south. Like San Gaban and Macusani, Ollachea is capital of its own district in Carabaya Province, part of southern Peru’s Puno Region.

In October 2016 Rocío and I came to Ollachea to relax in its natural hot springs and enjoy more wonderful trout. While visiting, my camera flash mysteriously failed. We also toured ancient sites nearby worth their own blog post.

Ollachea surrounded by the fog-covered Andes Mountains

A central Ollachea street with surrounding mountains blanketed by clouds Continue reading

Ancient Buildings, Terraces and Cave Surprises around Ollachea

WARNING: this blog post contains images of mummified remains some people may find disturbing

Puno Region’s Ollachea district in southern Peru has fantastic, easily accessible pre-Columbian sites including chulpas, ruins, ancient terraces and mummies in caves!

An Ollachea shopkeeper told Rocío about places to visit outside of town on our October 2016 visit. Not only this, she kindly arranged for her son to pick us up and take us around in his trike-trailer. The sites, south and north of Ollachea were all close by the Interoceanic Highway.

South of Ollachea: Chillacori Chulpas, Ruins and Condors in the Sky

The son first took us to the Chillacori (also known as Chichacori and Chickakuri) Archaeological site featuring two chulpas (tombs) and other ancient ruins in an amazing valley setting.

Chulpa at Chichacori surrounded by potato fields, Ollachea, Carabaya, Puno, Peru

A pre-Columbian chulpa on a rocky outcrop surrounded by modern potato fields Continue reading

San Gaban and the Lizard Mouth

San Gaban is a pleasant village located on the Interoceanic Highway in the Puno Region between Puerto Maldonado and Macusani. Despite being only 100 kilometres’ drive north of high altitude, tundra-climate Macusani, San Gaban is lowland and hot year-round. This altitude and climate supports an abundance of tropical fruit.

A few kilometres east of San Gaban is the Lizard Mouth (Boca del Lagarto) or that’s what San Gaban locals called it. A natural swimming pool is at the mouth of the Chaquimayo River (Boca del Chaquimayo) just before it joins the San Gaban River. Nearby is Lizard Sanctuary (Santuario del Lagarto), a historically important series of ancient petroglyphs dominated by lizard motives.

San Gaban

Ice cream beans, cocona and monkey bananas, San Gaban

Ice cream beans (pacay), cocona and monkey bananas at a San Gaban roadside seller’s tiny stall Continue reading

San Gaban’s Third Annual Food Fair, Peru

Giant pineapples, diseased cacao beans and fruit I’d never heard of all featured at the third annual San Gaban Tropical Produce Agribusiness, Agriculture and Gastronomy Fair (III Feria Agropecuaria Agroindustrial y Gastronómico de Productos Tropicales).

Luckily Rocío and I were in San Gaban a few days before the 12 October 2016 fair and after seeing the poster we agreed to stay for the event. Village festivals have a special feel and tropical fruit is awesome so we were looking forward to this.

Third San Gaban Tropical Food Festival Poster, Carabaya, Puno, Peru

The fair poster lists cacao and pineapple sub-festivals Continue reading

Oroya: Butterflies, Boats and Gold Mining in the Amazon Basin

The village of Oroya straddles the Inambari River and is known for its gold. Spanish speakers may find this unsurprising as oro in Spanish means gold. Oroya, incorporating Puerto Manoa, lies adjacent the Interoceanic Highway in Carabaya Province’s San Gaban District.

Inambari passing through Oroya, Carambaya Province, Puno Region, Peru

Oroya/Puerto Manoa including a suspension bridge over the Inambari River, from near the Interoceanic Highway Continue reading

Puerto Maldonado to San Gaban via Mazuko, Madre de Dios, Peru

After Brazil and a second visit to Puerto Maldonado in October 2016, Rocío and my intention was to return south to Macusani and visit Ollachea. In the shared taxi (colectivo) from Puerto Maldonado to Mazuko, the driver told us about San Gaban, north of Ollachea. His belief it was worth visiting was supported by another passenger. Our destination changed to San Gaban.

Outside of Puerto Maldonado the driver stopped for us to buy fish from a roadside stall. The grilled pacu and catfish tasted amazing.

Grilled catfish, outside Puerto Maldonado, Peru

Grilled catfish in the taxi form Puerto Maldonado to Mazuko Continue reading

Border fun on a trip to Acre, Brazil

Known as the end of Brazil, Acre is a seldom visited state in the far west of this giant country. South of Amazonas State, Acre also borders Peru and Bolivia. From Puerto Maldonado, Peru, in late September 2016 Rocío and I decided to visit Rio Branco, Acre’s capital and largest city. We knew little about the city or state but thought a visit to Brazil would be fun since we were nearby.

In Puerto Maldonado we took a van 171 kilometres along the Interoceanic Highway to Iñapari, the Peruvian town on the Peru-Brazil-Bolivia tri-border. The road passes papaya and banana plantations and has over 200 speed humps. The humps were installed after speeding drivers caused many crashes on this straight, flat road.

The Migraciones office in Iñapari town manages Peru migration control. Entering Peru from Bolivia I thought I had 90 days. However, the scribble on my entry stamp officially noted 60. I had overstayed my visa. No problem. I could receive my exit stamp upon submission of a receipt for USD$23 (USD$1 for every day over) of Peruvian soles deposited at the town’s Banco de la Nación branch.

Entering Brazil wasn’t an issue as I already had a Brazilian visa (Australians require visas in advance). However, the official did ask us if we were travelling together and, if so, why we requested different durations.

In the Brazilian border town Assis Brasil (yes, that is its name) we waited for a shared taxi to Brasiléia. No, not the federal capital, that’s Brasília. The Assis Brasil taxi driver association’s name Sindicato Dos Taxistas De Assis Brasil abbreviates to S.T.A.B. Táxi. Do they know the English connotation?

S.T.A.B Taxi, Sindicato Dos Taxistas De Assis Brasil

We caught a S.T.A.B. Táxi from Assis Brasil to Brasiléia Continue reading