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

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

Pukara, Ancient Archaeological Site and Ornamental Bulls

Pukara, also written as Pucara, is the name of both a southern Peruvian town and a nearby archaeological site in the Lampa Province of Puno Region. Less than an hour from Ayaviri, Rocío and I stopped here in September 2016 to explore the ruins and associated museum.

Pukara archaelogical site in front of mountain, Puno Region, Peru

Pukara ruins in front of a rocky hill Continue reading