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

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, 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

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

Macusani, the High Altitude Home of Alpacas, Precious Memories and Sun Halos

About Macusani

Macusani, located 4,315 metres high up in the Andes Mountains, is the capital of Carabaya Province in southern Peru’s Puno Region. Macusani is also the self-proclaimed Peruvian and world alpaca capital.

Although receiving few tourists, the Carabaya Province, including districts Macusani, Corani, Ayapata, Ollachea and San Gaban, has amazing sights. Macusani town is not so scenic although it has views of snowy mountains on clear days. Mountains in the area include 5,805 metre high Allincapac and the world’s largest tropical glacier, Quelccaya Ice Cap. In Macusani town I did see my first ever sun halo, a colourful circle resembling a 360 degree rainbow.

For visitors, Macusani has basic hotels, restaurants, shops, a central market (Mercado Central) pharmacies and a single ATM inside the Caja Arequipa bank (only accessible during office hours). The weekly street market occurs Tuesdays. In October 2016 wifi was non-existent and not all mobile telephone networks had coverage. At least basic Spanish (or Quechua) is required as few people spoke any English.Macusani sheep and mountains

Sheep graze on the outskirts of Macusani with snow-topped mountains in the background Continue reading