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

Puerto Maldonado, Southern Peru’s Amazon Gateway

Puerto Maldonado is the tourism, transportation and economic centre of Peru’s southern Amazon Basin. Direct buses and flights from Cusco make Puerto Maldonado a convenient Amazon alternative to Iquitos in Peru’s north.

Puerto Maldonado lies at the confluence of two large rivers, the Madre de Dios and Tambopata. The Tambopata joins the Madre de Dios which in turn flows into the Madeira River, a tributary of the Amazon River.

Giant mural, Puerto Maldonado, Madre de Dios

A giant mural covering the side of a Puerto Maldonado building; the object held by the mural subject resembles a blowgun, a traditional hunting weapon used by indigenous Continue reading

Eating in Puerto Maldonado

Puerto Maldonado in southern Peru’s Amazon Basin has great tropical produce. Rocío and I enjoyed tasting the exotic flavours at markets, cafes and restaurants.

Central Market (Mercado Modelo)

Puerto Maldonado’s main market has the city’s best range of food with many fresh produce stalls and a restaurant section serving good value local cuisine.

Fruit stall at Mercado Central, Puerto Maldonado

Fruit and vegetable stalls at Puerto Maldonado’s Mercado Modelo; the green bundles in the bottom right contain banana leaves for cooking with
Continue reading

From Andean Glaciers to the Amazon Jungle in one Spectacular Day

The journey from Ayapata to Puerto Maldonado was my most amazing and varied single day of travel ever. Seeing glaciers, tropical jungle and other magnificent landscapes all on the same day is hard to beat.

In late September 2016 Rocío and I wanted to get from Ayapata, Puno Region to Puerto Maldonado in Madre de Dios during daylight to view the scenery. There was no direct day transport, not even from Macusani. Using local advice, we reached our destination via the following steps:

  1. Ayapata to Macusani Bus Terminal: van
  2. Macusani Bus Terminal to Macusani Terminal Terrestre: mototaxi
  3. Macusani Terminal Terrestre to Lechemayo: van
  4. Lechemayo to Mazuko: mototaxi
  5. Mazuko to Puerto Maldonado: shared car

Ayapata to Macusani Bus Terminal by Van

Sheer mountains, Andes, Ayapata District, Carabaya Province, Puno, Peru

A mountain with sheer cliffs towers over this building between Ayapata and Macusani Continue reading

Ancient Pitumarka Mummies in Taype

WARNING: this blog post contains images of mummified remains

Rocío’s and my September 2016 visit to Ayapata District coincided with an exciting local story. One week earlier authorities had seized mummies from a family in the Pitumarka archaeological site. The one baby and four adult mummies, found when the family removed earth to build a home, were kept secret from authorities for four years. Upon seizure, the ancient mummies were placed in the new, almost empty, Taype Ccochahuma Municipality Civic Centre.

Taype Ccochahuma Municipality Civic Centre

The Taype Ccochahuma Municipality Civic Centre (Municipalidad Centro Poblado) temporarily hosted the mummies Continue reading

Where is Ayapata?

Ayapata in Carabaya Province, Peru, is a place I never knew existed*. This was until Rocío and I saw Macusani posters advertising Ayapata’s first coffee festival for 25 September 2016. We thought it was a great excuse to visit, despite the excellent Maps.Me showing no roads leading to Ayapata. Even today, Google Maps still shows a road-less town of Ayapata District.

An unsealed road did link Macusani to Ayapata, with vans departing from Macusani’s bus terminal for the two hour journey. Flamingos, Andean geese, ducks and other birds inhabited the stunning Andes mountain and lake scenery.

The journey’s second half encountered fog, darkness and rain. Rocío feared the steep roadside drops and poor visibility combined with the usual South American driving style.

Sitting in front of the van travelling to Ayapata on mountainsides in low visibility Continue reading