Manu - Peruvian Amazonas
The Manu jungle runs down from the Andie's to the Amazon basin. The road in runs over the Andie's and through the high jungle, the cloudforest (photos 1-3). The first few days was as a regular tourist, but all comforts where soon to go (photo 5). The days started early with first light (photo 6) about 5am. First task was to build our camp (photo 7), and much of the work involved the use of a machete (photo 8), clearing the surrounding forest. There was no facilities now, it was into the river to clean (photo 9), but at the end of a sweltering day you would jump in any water believe me.
For a day off it was into the local community and the main event is of course football, I played ok for 1/2 hour but even playing late in the day, its hard in the jungle heat. I never knew what was coming next and with no pick up back to camp it was a 3 hour trek through the jungle with all my gear (photo 13) that nearly finished me, then no boat so its into a raft to go down (raging!) river (photo 14). The local lads with me Nesta & Hurasio found it hilarious as all my gear got soaked and there was a few close calls - their no pros, just aim the raft and hang on - even a local kid nicked a ride with his bike - madness.
The next day out of the blue I had 5 mins to pack all and it was of 6 hours down river to the low jungle. I was with 2 others and it was even more extreme conditions in unchartered forest we were not welcome and insects and harsh forest battered us all (photos 15-17). Even monkeys threw nuts at us when setting up camp! The results were good but when the project leader pasted on a supply run we was out of there and I spent 5-6 days travelling to Puerto Maldonado and back. Suffering from hundreds of insect bites I was in a bad way, and only the good company of Dale & Nikki (photo 19) kept me sain I think. For the last 5 days I joined a tourist group into the reserved zone, got better and the highlight was seeing Jaguars on 3 occasions, (photo 20) the best. (Photos 21-26) show some of the other insects and animals I saw during the month. Incredible experience I think I'm appreciating more with time.
Things I couldn't photo - nocturnal animals, the brilliant fire flies which light up fluorescent, some great storms and lightling, shooting stars, and more than anything the sound of the jungle, especially at night when it becomes almost deafening - these are for the memory bank only.
Te Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
To finish Peru I finally got on the Inca Trail, which takes 4 days and finishes at the once lost Inca city Machu Picchu. With only 2 days recovery from the jungle and going back up 3000+ metres I was a little worried whether I would cope, but it went well and didn't seem half as difficult as previous trekking at Huaraz & Colca Canyon. The views throughout the Inca Trail are stunning as it rises through valleys to 4200 meters then down into the cloudforest. I was a little fed up camping in tents at night after a month of that in Manu, but at least there was no mossies!
On day 4 it was up at 5am and we walked the last 2 hours arriving at Machu Picchu. At first view (photo 30) (supposedly of sun rise) it was disappointment all around as the clouds covered all (this is the case 9/10 times - well it is the cloud forest). But 10 mins later a little further down it all cleared and the whole site became clear (photos 32-33). It was incredible and maybe more to me than the ruins, it was the whole setting, perched on the mountain side surrounded by sheer mountainous cliffs and clouds - amazing. After exploring the site a little I climbed to the top of Huayna Picchu (the taller mountain in the background), chilled there a while. What a great end to Peru, and after a last couple of days in Cusco, I left for Bolivia.
By the way, I'm not going anywhere near a tent for a while!