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Over the Top

Day Two of the Inca Trail

sunny

We were awakened early next morning by the porters and a steaming hot cup of coca tea. That hit the spot. Steve was having a lengthy discussion with Raul. Apparently he and Amy had a miserable night with vomiting and GI problems. They were so bad off that they were going to quit and turn back. That's when they found out that they were screwed. The entire Sacred Valley and Cusco were having a several day strike to protest the sale of natural gas to foreigners. Even if they made it back to the beginning of the trail, there would be no transportation to any towns, nor any hotels for them to stay, or restaurants open to eat at. They had only one choice--finish the Inca Trail. We all felt terrible for them because they are really some of the nicest people we've met. We ate breakfast, gathered our gear (I dumped the big camera in the extra porter bag), and started up the trail. Immediately, Amy and Steve held up and said that they would catch up to us in a few minutes. Raul stayed with them to make sure they were okay. Little did we know, that would be the last time we saw them for the next 8 hours.

Sherri and I hiked through the shade of the cloud forest for the next hour. It felt cool and refreshing as long as we kept moving. As soon as I stopped to catch my breath, I began to freeze. Jackie preferred to move at her own slower pace. I think she was bogged down by her poor choice of equipment. Her backpack was stuffed with pretzels and candy. She carried both a bulky fur-trimmed coat and a water bottle by hand while using trying to use two trekking poles. Additionally, she had two decent sized cameras slung around her neck like a Japanese tourist. Somehow, over the next few days, almost all of those items inexplicably ended up on Raul’s back. We made it to a small rest area with a scenic view of the mountains. There was a lady selling bottled drinks and candy. It was capitalism at its best. The price for a small bottle of Red Bull was inflated to about $10. The bottled water went for 10 soles (usually 2 soles or less elsewhere).

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We had planned to wait up for the others there, but the Llama Path guide from the other group relayed a message from Raul to keep moving. I was freezing again so I was eager to keep going. Then the sun came out above the mountains. It went from cold to crispy. We quickly shed all the fleece, gloves, and alpaca hats as we ascended the path to Dead Woman's Peak. When I was researching the trip, I wondered why there weren’t many photos taken on the trail. Now I understand. All I could think of was surviving the heat and the hike. It was too exhausting to actually walk in the thin air. Instead, we did a slow, zombie shuffle for 50 feet, rested, and then repeated. This stretch of the trek helped Sherri and I make up our minds that we were not going to hike up Winay Picchu when we got to Machu Picchu. Chewing the coca leaves was a great energy boost. It was essential. I felt a little better about myself when I saw that the bad-ass porters were also struggling to get to the top. Of course they were carrying 10 times as much as we were.

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We were exhilarated to make it to the top. Despite our struggles, we were actually one of the earlier groups to reach the pass. The view was breathtaking. Looking back down at the trail, I got a greater appreciation of what we had just accomplished. One of the porters was waiting for us there with a message from Raul to keep going. Apparently, Amy was in very bad shape and was barely making it up. I can't even imagine the ordeal she was going through.

We then tackled the steep Incan steps on the path down the mountain. Initially, I found it harder than walking up because the need to slow my momentum down was more taxing on my legs. Any misstep could mean a twisted ankle or a complete wipeout fall of several feet. After awhile, I got over the fear of the steepness and started jogging down (of course, not as fast as the porters). This was much easier as gravity did most of the work. I could't get Sherri to diverge from her methodical snail's pace. After about 2.5 hours we neared the lunch site at the bottom of the mountain. Two of our porters ran past us back up the mountain carrying a water jug. We thought that they were just gathering some water from the nearby stream. Instead it turned out they were heading back up the mountain to bring tea to our ailing group mates. We were exhausted going up and down the mountain just once. These guys essentially did it twice in one day, with much heavier packs too! Llama Path really takes care of their clients.

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After I woke from an hour nap, the rest of the group started trickling in. We ate a late lunch. This site was originally planned to be for our lunch break only. However, since it was already getting late and we had some sick members, Raul wisely decided to pitch tents for the night. Unfortunately, this was also the main campsite for every other group. There was only one bathroom facility located 15 minutes away downhill. It was miserable with only 6 total toilets for about 400-500 people at that site. It was made worse by all the gastrointestinal maladies that many of the tourists were suffering. There was literally fecal matter on the floor and walls of the stalls. Ironically, I now understand what women go through at sporting events. The great disproportionate number of men on the trail led to a long line outside the men's room. There was practically no wait for women. Most guys opted to use the "Incan toilet" making sure that they didn't pee uphill from their tent.

Camping in the mountains meant that the weather was much colder that evening. Steve even saw some small flurries. Raul and another porter were awakened in the middle by some screams. Fearing that there was a trekker in distress, they rushed out out of there tents only to find a buck-naked couple making out. At that altitude, I guess they do qualify for the mile- high club. What truly was amazing for me was the night sky. The stars were so bright and vivid. I can see why the celestial sky was so important to Incan religion and spirituality.

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Posted by evilnoah 11:18 Archived in Peru Tagged peru valley trail sacred machu picchu inca Comments (0)

Home Stretch

Day Three of the Inca Trail

sunny

The third day of the trek was the best. Although it was the longest day, everything just seemed easier. We stopped by a small circular ruin, Runkurakay, that was used by runners on the Incan trail. We had a second smaller mountain to climb. Near the top, there was a small reflective lake that was used back in the day for offerings to Pachamama. From there on, it was basically all downhill.

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The next ruin we encountered was one of my favorites. Named Sayacmarca, or "inaccessible city"; it was used centuries ago to house a garrison of troops. It was only accessible by a narrow set of steep stairs. Unfortunately, everybody else in my group was too tired to climb up there, so I had to explore it alone. There were some amazing views of the valley below from our lunch break spot.

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We stopped briefly at a third ruin, Phuyupatamarca or "cloud level town." This signified our return to the cloud forest where we saw various orchids and even some ripe wild strawberries. Nobody had the cojones to try them. Sadly, there were no spectacled bears. We passed a girl who was hobbling down the stairs with the aid of a guide. It was going to be a long day for her.
In the late afternoon, we made it to the Intipata ruins overlooking the last campsite. The place was well-preserved, with the Incan steps still useable on the terraces. Sadly, there was not enough time to see Winay Wayna, considered one of the nicest and most well known ruins on the trail. Sherri was extremely disappointed as this was the one site that she wanted to see the most. Darkness settled before we made it to the campsite. Raul had a small flashlight which was fortunate as there were some steep drops just a few feet away from the path. I believe we were probably the last group to arrive.

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The campsite had some modern facilities--a grille, a deserted "dance floor" strobe light and all, seated toilets, and cold beer--but nothing to write home about. If you had asked me before the trek whether we would take the first opportunity to shower after sweating it out for 3 straight days, I would have given an emphatic "hell, yeah!" Well, I guess we all got used to feeling nasty and stinky. None of us opted to take one (only 20 soles, including a towel). Besides, we had been using bath wipes each night.

The big surprise after dinner was our cook had "baked" a cake! It was no Ace of Cakes' creation, but it was tasty and down right impressive considering he only had a kerosene camping stove and the ingredients they carried. The tipping ceremony followed. We were happy how well Llama Path took care of us, so we all gave them what we felt was a good amount. They definitely deserved it.

Posted by evilnoah 11:41 Archived in Peru Tagged peru valley trail sacred machu picchu inca Comments (0)

Mission Accomplished

Arrival at Machu Picchu

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We had to wake up at 3 AM the next morning to eat breakfast and get all the gear packed up. Apparently there is only one train a day back to town for the porters. It leaves at around 5AM. If they are not on it, they are stuck here for the night without food or shelter. All the trekkers then queued up for the locked gates to the park to open. Then it was off to the races. This was the last "gringo-killer" as there were still some steep stairs to climb. We had to use our headlights until the sun rose. The pace was swift. Inexplicably, many people thought they had to make a made dash to the Sun Gate (Intipunku) to see the sunrise over Machu Picchu. In reality, we had more than enough time. A leisurely stroll would have sufficed. The trail was narrow with the mountain to one side and a sheer cliff on the other. There was only enough room to walk single file. Of course there are always some impatient fools who had to pass everybody. I hugged the mountain side to let them by. I wasn't going to fall off a cliff just so they could be first.

When we finally reached the Sun Gate, we got our first view of Machu Picchu. The view was better than any photograph. We headed down the mountain path for a good view and waited. As Raul predicted, at 7:19, the sun came up over the mountains behind us and illuminated the Sun Temple. That was supposed to be the quintessential moment for the entire trek.

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One thing that made me feel especially good about this trip was that it gave one of the porters an opportunity to see Machu Picchu for the first time. Since Sherri and I were staying at the Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge, Raul arranged (for a few dollars more) for one of the porters to bring our packs with us to the hotel. Although this man has lugged bags up the mountain for almost ten years, he, like all other porters, always had to bypass the actual ruins themselves. Sadly, this is all too common for the poorer country people in the Sacred Valley. Although locals get a significant discount on the $45 entrance fee to Machu Picchu, they still often lack the sufficient funds or opportunities to see a crucial monument to their proud history. I could tell that, just like all of us, he was amazed at the magnificence of these ruins. We made our way down to the ruins and took our last group shot at the most photographed view of Machu Picchu. We donned our nice Llama Path T-shirts. The only colors Raul had were white, ugly yellow, uglier yellow, ugliest orange, and blue. Somehow I lucked out with the blue. Out of principle, Steve refused to wear the orange shirt.

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Raul then gave us a two hour tour of the city. We took a million pictures. We viewed those who rode the train with disdain. (I’m sure they viewed our stench with disgust). Even while fighting sleep deprivation and fatigue, I was at an emotional high. After the toils of the last four days, I think the rest of our group was all ruined-out. We said our goodbyes to them as they departed for the bus to Aguas Calientes. Raul had to catch an afternoon train as he was scheduled to lead another group back on the trail the following day.

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We checked into the Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge, just adjacent to the entrance of the ruins. We had lunch there and it was packed! There was a huge line outside of people waiting to get seated. Since we were staying on the premises, one of the staff helped us find a recently vacated table. There was a large spread of food in the buffet, most of it being pretty good. For those of you wondering, the buffet is pricey for what you get (included in the price of our stay). However, if you factor in the time and money to take the bus down to Aguas Calientes to eat there, I don't think it’s a bad deal at all.

I wasn’t crazy about spending my children’s future inheritance at the Sanctuary Lodge. However, I agreed to stay there as a concession to Sherri for making her camp out for three nights. Once again she was able to get a significantly discounted rate on the internet, and the place is all inclusive for meals, minibar, and room service. Unfortunately we had just missed laundry service. Without any clean clothes left, we had to spend 45 minutes hand washing our clothes. So much for relaxing. The rooms were good but not five star quality. Their internet connection was slower than my old 2400 baud modem. Where the hotel really shines is service and, of course, location. Machu Picchu sparked our initial interest in traveling to Peru. It would have been criminal for us to have only breezed through there in 2 hours. If we had stayed at a less expensive hotel down in Aguas Calientes, I seriously doubt we would have had the energy to come back. As it were, we went back that same afternoon after showering and a short nap. That was the best part of our trek. Machu Picchu is way too crowded with tourists. You can’t take a photograph without someone in the background. That late in the afternoon, the crowds had thinned out significantly. We were able to explore the ruins on our own pace and take some better pictures. Luckily Sherri had read Ruth Wright’s “Machu Picchu Guidebook” (I was too lazy to get past the third page). She was able to point out the important buildings that weren’t covered on the tour. We posed with the domesticated llamas, snuck up on some chinchillas (I first thought they were mutant rabbits), and absorbed the magnificence of the city. While many people had to catch the last bus down to Aguas Calientes, we were able to linger a few extra minutes enjoying the indescribable serenity and beauty of Machu Picchu.

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That night we had dinner at Tampu, the hotel’s restaurant. There was yet another Peruvian band playing. Although I’m a bit deaf thanks to my Ipod, I could tell that these guys had a really good, clear, crisp sound. The only problem was that they were blocking my view of the World Cup game on the television in the bar. As we have come to expect from an establishment of this caliber, the waiters were attentive and the food delicious. I went with the always reliably-good sea bass entrée (foam is so 2006). Of all the wonderful dishes on the menu, Sherri chose the disappointing chocolate fettucini (there was no chocolate taste). My trio of cheesecakes was a little too dense and dry for my liking. The best dish of all was the tree tomato dessert. It was perfectly moist and sweet with a rich sabayon sauce. Unfortunately, we never encountered this fruit again during the remainder of our travels. Although the meal was included in our stay, I still felt compelled to leave a tip consistent with the price of the meal. The irony is that I ended up tipping the waiters the same amount as I had done the porters. As I reflected upon that later, that just seemed wrong.

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In all fairness, the staff at the Sanctuary Lodge was incredible. I called room service to get a diet coke. They brought three. That night, we were freaking out because we had no train ticket for the return trip to Cusco. We were on a tight schedule and had to catch a flight the next day. Raul had promised to have someone deliver it to the front desk of the hotel. By the time the last official automobile had made it up the mountain, there was still no ticket. The lady working the desk went the extra effort. She tried calling Llama Path but to no avail as the main office was clueless of the situation. She ended up calling her friend at Peru Rail who was able to find our reservations, reprint new tickets, and fax them to the hotel. Ironically, an hour later, Raul’s initial train ticket materialized. While it ended up being a moot point at the end, we were most appreciative of the front desk staff’s efforts.

We had planned on staying up late, ordering more desserts and chocolate sours from room service, and enjoying the crisp mountain air out on the patio. Instead we were so exhausted that we were comatose in our bed by 9 PM.

At 6 AM, I crawled out of bed and seconds later I was at Machu Picchu again. There was already a huge line of people waiting for the gates to open. I made my way over the Sun Temple and camped out next to a large stone known as the Intihuatana. Since it helped the Incan’s determine the time of year, it was the most important and sacred rock in the entire city. It has been said to radiate energy when touched. When I reached over the rope barriers and patted the Intihuatana, the only thing vibe I got was the sound of “no toque” from a nearby security guard.

Once again, the sun rose up over the opposing mountain. It first cast a beautiful glow on Winay Pichu. I’m sure it also made the hikers there really hot. As the sun’s rays descended on the Sun Temple, the asylum was unlocked. A large group stood behind the Intihuatana with their arms up entranced at the rising sun. One by one, they meditated next to the sacred rock. My favorite guy was dressed up in new age garb chanting in both English and Spanish that “Brothers and Sisters, we are all people of one family, nationalities are only illusions…” If only this would work in the Middle East. Too bad I was not there the next day which was the summer solstice. I’m sure the spectacle would have been even better.

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After checking out of the hotel, we made our way to the Peru Rail station in Aguas Calientes for our 10:30 AM train. We proudly bought ourselves some “I Survived the Inca Trail” t-shirts. They are ugly and will likely never be worn. With the damage to the railroad tracks earlier in the year, the train went only as far as km 82 (the same place where we started the Inca Trail). We were then crowded on a small Peru Rail shuttle bus and transported to Ollantaytambo. In efficient fashion, a full size passenger bus took only the two of us back to Cusco. The whole trip took us 5-6 hours whereas it usually takes only about 3 hours when the train is in full service.

We dined at the popular Inka Grill for dinner. We started with the creole sampler. I was pleasantly surprised at how good the anticuchos (beef heart brochettes) were. Their tamales were the best we had during our stay in Peru. The rest of the food was just okay. I had a hearty alpaca steak with tacu tacu and Sherri had the aji de gallina. We spent the night in a different room at the Hotel Monasterio. No ghosts seen that night either.

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Overall, we were both glad that we had done the Inca Trail. It made the Machu Picchu experience more immersive and special. I don't think we will be doing it again. It's just like the Japanese saying about climbing Mt. Fuji: you are a fool if you have never climbed it, but you are twice the fool if you have done it more than once.

I'm glad that we had gone with Llama Path. Despite the government regulations limiting the loads that a porter can carry, we saw way too many of them being exploited with overloaded packs. Some only had raggedy sandals. Most porters don't complain because they can make more money this way than farming and there are many others who would happily take their place. Llama Path takes good care of their employees making sure they have good wages, shoes, clothing, and health insurance. Raul did a great job taking care of our group. Just like a coach or trainer, he knew how to motivate us when we were struggling, but also took great care of those who were really sick. However, he does resemble some guy on Nickelodeon who works with the Animal Rescue Squad. We paid a little more than some other less reputable trekking companies. But, it was worth it to be able to sleep well at night.

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Separated at birth?

Posted by evilnoah 11:58 Archived in Peru Tagged peru valley trail sacred machu picchu inca Comments (0)

Death By Humidity and Bug Bites

Visiting the Manu Wildlife Center Part 1

sunny 32 °F

We were off early in the morning for our trip to the Manu National Park with Inkanatura as our tour operator. We boarded a small commuter plane with two older couples, Joe and Dionne from Australia and Irene and Walter from Switzerland. The flight itself was a little under an hour, but the landing was a bit frightening. The Boca Manu “airport” was a grassy field with only one small open hut. As we disembarked, we were hit with a wall of hot, humid air. A group of tourist leaving on our plane shouted out to us “it’s fun, but get prepared to sweat.” We were greeted by our guide when we landed. She resides in Cusco but lives weeks on end at the nature center. She was one of the more educated and knowledgeable people we met in Peru. Without any television, internet, or newspapers, she somehow stayed informed of current events in the world.

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We were transferred to the Manu Wildlife Center on covered, motorized canoes. The cool wind from the swift boats was a good break from the constant humidity. The shoreline was fairly repetitive, but our guide’s sharp eyes spotted a pack of red howler monkeys eating clay on the banks. We slowly edge closer to them while they eyed us suspiciously. We saw several other fauna including white egrets, groups of turtles basking in the sun, and the ever present yellow-headed vultures circling above.

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Manu Wildlife Center consisted of several bungalows with two beds and a bathroom completely enclosed with mosquito nets and curtains. There was no electricity, only candlelight. The rooms were pretty hot because they had partial walls for privacy that prevented the full breeze from making it inside. Instead, we spent most of our time in the large main lodge. There was a fully stocked bar, several tables in the dining area, and many chairs to lounge. We preferred to rest in the hammock area which got the best breezes. There was also a small library of books with pages soggy from the 100% humidity. Twice a day, they ran their generator allowing us to recharge our camera batteries. The food was pretty good considering that all ingredients have to be flown in on our flight.

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The first afternoon we walked along the trails around the MWC. It was reminiscent of the "I Shouldn't Be Alive" episode where a couple almost dies when they got lost in the Amazon. The vegetation is repetitive and there are no discernible landmarks. It can be a deathrtrap if you go without a guide. We travelled for an hour when suddenly our guide stopped us and told us to look up. There were squirrel monkeys and capuchin monkeys feeding on fruit in the trees all around us. Eventually they melted deeper into the jungle. The sounds of of the animals (especially macaws) are very distinctive and startling. It would be very frightening to be out there alone. There are so many bizarre looking plants and trees. Of course there are mosquitoes and flies everywhere. I protected myself with pants, long sleeve shirts, and a bath of DEET.

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The next morning, we took the boats out to the macaw clay lick on a nearby island. In order to situate ourselves in the viewing blind before the birds arrived, we left the lodge before the sun came up. Our guide explained to us that the jungle fruits are deficient in adequate minerals for a bird’s diet. Therefore, they must eat clay from exposed cliffs. Everyday, they risk getting eaten by jungle cats and predatory birds in order to supplement their diet.

The “blind” was actually a large wooden platform situated about 50 yards from the clay lick. There were comfortable plastic swiveling chairs bolted into the structure. It was covered yet open enough for the breeze, making it fairly cool during our wait. There was even a small toilet in the facility. I was happy that I had brought some 10x42 Nikon binoculars to see the birds. The guides even had a powerful tripod-mounted scope for those close-up shots. My only regret was that my zoom lens was only a 70-300mm. I wish I had just a little further reach to get some closer shots.

The parrots were the first to arrive. Hundreds of them perched in the upper branches of the adjacent trees cautiously looking out for danger. After what seemed like an eternity, they slowly edged down the trees towards the cliff. Finally one parrot made it to the exposed clay and started feeding. All of a sudden, the air was filled with a cacophony of squawking. My vision was filled with streaks of green and blue shapes darting about. Just like that, all the parrots were gone. They got spooked before most had fed. I was annoyed because we had just spent 2 hours waiting to see them.

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Luckily, the real show was just about to begin. We spotted the macaws and their distinctive silhouettes flying towards us. Up to that point, I had never understood the allure of bird watching. I have always thought that birds just perch there and do nothing but chirp. The macaws were much different. They exhibited much more distinctive and interested social behavior. They always travelled as pairs with the occasional triplet signifying their offspring. They came in small groups from all different directions to that one spot, as if they had arranged for a group breakfast. Just like the parrots, they slowly made their way to the cliff edge. All it took was one brave bird to initiate the feeding before all of them followed shortly. On the periphery of the group, there were always a couple of macaws perched on branches watching for any predators. After awhile those guys would fly in and start feeding while another would trade out and take watch. It was an amazing site. With my camcorder propped up on my gorillapod, I was able to tape the whole sight and take about a billion pictures. After about 4-5 hours total at the clay lick, we headed back to the lodge and rested in the afternoon.

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We visited the tapir lick that evening. Sherri was pessimistic when she heard that the previous night’s group spent 5-6 hours there and saw nothing. The facility was another raised wooden platform with individual mattresses safely covered by mosquito nets. We were all already miserably hot and sweaty from the hour-long walk to get there. Unfortunately, there was no breeze, so we suffered in the stifling heat. We ate our packed dinners of rice and chicken fingers (actually pretty damn good) and waited. And waited. And waited. I dozed off eventually. I was awakened to loud whispers of our guide alerting us to the arrival of a tapir. She used a small spotlight to illuminate the creature which was only 15 feet away below us. Apparently, tapirs have poor vision so it was not bothered by the bright light. It was an ugly creature—like a cross between a small hippopotamus and a horse. It was covered in mud like a pig. Our guide estimated that it weighed about 500 lbs. After munching on the clay for 20 minutes, the tapir amble off into the night. I was ecstatic for our luck. On the way back to the lodge, our guide pointed out several toads and found a small non-poisonous snake.

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Posted by evilnoah 16:35 Archived in Peru Tagged peru amazon manu Comments (0)

More Manu

Visiting the Manu Wildlife Center Part 2

semi-overcast

We again left early in the morning to take a small raft on the Cocha Blanco oxbow lake. The lake was calm and peaceful with the background noise of small chirping birds. However, the serenity would occasionally be broken by the abrasive howls of horned screamer birds. We saw several hoatzins along the banks. These were the coolest-looking birds with their punk-rock spiked crests.
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Cocha Blanco

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One of the oarsmen started making some loud guttural noises. Across the lake, we heard a loud, low groan. Apparently, he was mimicking the mating call of a black caiman. The sound we heard was from a horny male looking for a booty call. I spotted him swimming towards us in the distance. He was not a fully grown adult, maybe only 6-7 feet long. Once it got closer, it saw us and disappointedly glided away.
We then spotted a solitary giant otter (likely a male) near a fallen tree. It dove underwater and reappeared with a fish in its mouth. He went to town on that fish devouring it in less than a minute. The otter then swam in front of our raft keeping a nice safe distance as he checked us out. We saw several more species of birds and small monkeys. The sun finally arrived in force overhead making us beat a quick retreat back to the dock.

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Later that afternoon, our group sans Sherri headed for the canopy platform. She had had enough of the Amazon heat and elected to stay behind in the lodge and read some trashy romance novel. The platform was tall and surprisingly sturdy. At the top, I could see endless rain forest for miles around. The canopy platform was strategically built alongside one of the large fruit-bearing trees. All sorts of parrots, macaws, and assorted birds came to the tree to feed before the sun went down. These birds would literally land on branches no more than 10 feet above us. Only when they looked down and realized we were there would they then fly off. For about 20 minutes, we were serenaded by the continuous foghorn sounds of some red howler monkeys nearby. The only major detraction from the platform was the swarms of sweat bees that constantly buzzed around my face.

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We finally had rain on our last day in the rainforest. I was worried that our small plane would not come and pick us up in the inclement weather. Nevertheless we packed up our gear and arrived at the Boca Manu “airport” at 9 AM. I thought we would have only a short wait, so I wore a T-shirt and neglected to use insect repellant. Big mistake. The plane did not actually arrive until 2PM. My arms were covered in bites by the time we took off. Since the plane is not pressurized, I started to feel very nauseous half-way through. I guess other people were having the same problem because they told us to put on our oxygen masks. Everybody donned one except for the two most important people, the pilot and co-pilot.

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Once we arrived in Cusco, we were a bit disappointed as we had missed all of the Inti Raymi festivities. We did see several local groups dressed up in traditional costumes playing music and dancing in the town squares. I was shocked to find that after only four days in the jungle, I had lost all my prior altitude acclimation. I started getting dizzy and short of breath while walking up small hills. My head started pounding harder and harder. It got so bad that I had to resume the Diamox pills.

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We ate dinner at a very popular Cusco restaurant, Cicciolina. The place was packed, but we were able to procure a small table with a great view of the chefs cooking in the open kitchen. We ordered several tapas dishes. We enjoyed the squid braised in red wine and the sampler of various causas. The quinoa crusted shrimp was delightfully crunchy. Neither of us was crazy about their duck prosciutto nor the hummus. Sherri spied a guy making fresh pasta in the window when we walked in, so she had to try their squid-ink tagliatelle with shrimp. It was served with a Thai inspired coconut milk sauce that enhanced its deliciousness. Although the place was bustling, our waitress still gave us top-notch service, even changing all of our dishes and silverware after each course. For the price, this was the best restaurant we went to in Peru. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of having a glass of red wine with my meal. This just exacerbated my altitude sickness. I was able to stagger back to the comforts of our oxygen-rich room at the Monasterio.

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Posted by evilnoah 17:02 Archived in Peru Tagged peru amazon manu Comments (0)

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