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

San Gaban’s Third Annual Food Fair, Peru

Giant pineapples, diseased cacao beans and fruit I’d never heard of all featured at the third annual San Gaban Tropical Produce Agribusiness, Agriculture and Gastronomy Fair (III Feria Agropecuaria Agroindustrial y Gastronómico de Productos Tropicales).

Luckily Rocío and I were in San Gaban a few days before the 12 October 2016 fair and after seeing the poster we agreed to stay for the event. Village festivals have a special feel and tropical fruit is awesome so we were looking forward to this.

Third San Gaban Tropical Food Festival Poster, Carabaya, Puno, Peru

The fair poster lists cacao and pineapple sub-festivals 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

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

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

Cusco Food and Dining

Cusco’s international exposure and Peru’s South American-leading cuisine combine to provide fantastic food options. Following are seven favourite places from my July-August 2016 stay.

ChocoMuseo Café

Although touristy, the ChocoMuseo museum, gift shop and café are well worth a visit, or, in my case, multiple visits. The museum explains the chocolate production process and history and the café serves exquisite chocolate-based food and drinks. ChocoMuseo’s workshops also come recommended.

Hot Chocolate and Chocolate Mousse, ChocoMuseo, Cusco

Chocolate mousse and mix your own Mayan hot chocolate ingredients (chilli, honey, hot milk and cacao) viewing Plaza Regocijo and the city beyond Continue reading

Porto Alegre, Friends and Food in Southern Brazil

The final week of May I spent in Porto Alegre, capital of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil’s southernmost state. From Foz do Iguaçu I took a 21 hour bus ride that, after a vehicle breakdown and wait for replacement, lasted almost 24 hours .

The climate from Foz do Iguaçu to Porto Alegre is subtropical. I’ve never seen as much green foliage as on this journey. At one of the trip’s many stops was a sculpture exhibition by Katielly Lanzini. The models seemed out of place, surrounding a dimly lit concrete bus station stairway.

Chapecó Prefecture, Santa Catarina

Katielly Lanzini dinosaur sculptures at Chapecó Prefecture bus station in Santa Catarina Continue reading