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

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
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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

The First Festival of Esquilaya Coffee, Ayapata, Carabaya, Puno, Peru

2016 Ayapata Festival of Esquilaya Coffee poster, Macusani

A poster in Macusani promoting the 1st Esquilaya Coffee Festival (I Festival de Café Esquilaya) held in Ayapata on 25 September 2016

Peru is a significant producer and exporter of coffee, with its crop primarily grown on the Andes’ eastern slopes. At 3,475 metres, the town of Ayapata is too high to grow coffee. Why then does it have a coffee festival? 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

Ayaviri, a Historic Andean Town

Historic town Ayaviri lies at 3,900 metres in the Andes’ high plateau. Ayaviri is the capital of Melgar Province in southern Peru’s Puno Region. Known for its Kankacho (baked mutton accompanied by potatoes) and cheese, Ayaviri also has hot springs and a notable cathedral.

Cathedral of Saint Francis of Assisi, Ayaviri, Melgar Province, Puno Region, Peru

Ayaviri’s late 17th century Andean Baroque-style Cathedral of Saint Francis of Assisi dominated the town centre Continue reading

Ilo, a Peruvian Port Town with Pelicans and Great Seafood

Boats, Ilo Port, Moquegua Region, Peru

Fishing boats graduating in size from tiny to huge, Ilo Harbour, Moquegua Region

Ilo, in southern Peru’s Moquegua Region, is a fishing and copper mining port off the tourist map. Located in the Atacama Desert, Ilo receives almost no rain. Continue reading