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

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