A Travellerspoint blog

Iquitos

The Amazon Jungle

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From Chachapoyas we headed to a small town called Tarapoto which is just at the start of the jungle... we stayed just one night then headed to Yurimagus which is were we could get the Boat to Iquitos. We went down to the Market to buy Hammocks for the boat, repellent for the mossies and food just incase there was none on the boat. The next morning we went down to the port and sent up camp on the top level of the boat and 12am we were expecting the boat to leave but the were still loading it up with fruits, corn, mototaxis and 12 cows. We soon found out that there wasn´t enough staff to leave so we slept on the boat in port for the first night. The next day we headed off, there wer a few tourists on board so we all put our hammocks together and relaxed whilst floating down the river. Food was also included with the ticket which was good.... rice, bananna and some sort of stew!

The boat ride was less hot than we imagined and was actually pretty fun. There was an artist on the boat who painted and made jewelery the whole time which was great to watch. It was also really nice watching all the small villages as we went past them and seeing the men driving up to the boat to collect their post or deliver some bananas.

We arrived at Iquitos early in the morning and we checked it to a hostel along with some of the people on the boat. I liked Iquitos immediately.. the people seemed friendly, the town is noisy and busy but it had a nice atmosphere. After breakfast in the market we headed out to a butterfly farm at a nearby town reachable only by boat. Whilst on the boat we saw a sea plane land in the river.... the expensive way to see the amazon.
We wander through the town to the butterfly place trying various delicious and disgusting fruits on the way.

The butterfly farm was really interesting... it had some amazing butterflys and showed each stage from catapillar to chrysalis to butterfly.

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The also had some rescued animals there including a bunch of monkeys with big red bald faces, that look constantly embarrased about their hideos faces.

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The market in Iquitos sometimes sells monkeys, ocelots, birds and even Jaguars that have been captured in the jungle to sell as pets and some of them had been brought to this refuge when the owners couldn´t handle them. They had one cute capuchine monkey that had been trained to pick pocket by street children and still does it now if you get to close. They had a Jaguar that had been brought a a pet but got too big. It was a really interesting place and to top it off they had a manatee in the small lake which we saw come up for a feed a few times. When we got back to the port we decided to try a jungle delecasy.... BBQed grubbs.... they actually tasted pretty good. We also had some delicious river fish.

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The next day we headed to a Orphanage for Manatees whose mums had been killed for meat. After two bus ride and a mototaxi ride we finally got there and it as well worth it. We were showed round and intoduced to some of the babies and then we fed three 18 month old manatees with milk bottles. They were so cute... they have really strange mouths and feel a bit like wet suits!

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Was a great experience and after this we headed to a Zoo which was equally awesome.... they had a pink dolphin which was so happy and playful and also lots of monkeys and other jungle animals. Outside the zoo there was yet more grubs and next to them was bbqed Aligator, we tryed a little bit but decided to stick to our cold coconut milk... best drink in the heat!

The next day we just relaxed and did some people watching, we´ve met some really nice people here so we all headed down to a bar to watch the world cup.... was a really disapointing boring game but was still nice to have a cold beer with friends. One day we headed to a district of Iquitos called Belen. In the wet season the whole place floats because the water is so high. This time of year the water isn´t high but we still needed to take a boat there. We wandered round the market trying different honeys and watching tons of people roll huge tobacco cigarettes at lighting speed and trying not to tread in the piles of rubbish everywhere being slowly eaten by the vultures peering over the roofs.

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As we headed to the port all the market ladies started saying ´Noooo amigo, es peligroso!´and precided to tell us that if we go to the port on our own we will return with nothing. So we headed back and hired a guide who took usd to the floating vilages and we visited his house and met some super cute children. We also saw some HUGE water lillys that can hold the wieght of a very small child.

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After this we went back to a different part of the market which was selling monkeys, parrots, turtles, tortoises and alligators. Was really sad to see these animals all tied up for sale. We also saw a big tortoise that was in his shell upside down. And we asked the lady if it was for food or a pet.... He was for food :-( Really wanted to buy him and set him free but they´d have probably just gone and caught another one. Was a really interesting day, there was a medical section of the market with lots of lotions and postions made out of jungle plants. There was even a cure for diabetes!

We had planned to do a tour into the jungle from here but we´ve heard theres a town a bit down river which is alot more authentic and cheaper. So tomorrow we´re gonna got a a boat for another 2 days to Lagunas to hopefully do some jungle camping!!

Posted by St Martins 10:53 Archived in Peru Tagged luxury_travel Comments (0)

Kuelap

More wrecked shit.

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After Trujillo we headed first to Cajamarca which was a fairly nice stopping point for a few days, we had a really great night out in town there with a local guy who we met. He took us to a really cool barn-like music venue, where a band were playing stylized versions of loads of south american genres which was nice. We also saw a guy in town with no legs playing a drum kit, singing, and playing some really cool handmade kazoo. He was good. After Trujillo we passed through Chiclayo, we had intended to see a museum, but it was shut- typical. Our next stop was Chachapoyas, and from there we caught a whiplash-enducing busride at 3am to Kuelap, a set of pre-columbian ruins in cloud forest still being excavated, and still pretty overgrown. After waiting for 2 hours at the gate for the site to open at 8am, we walked a short distance to the site itself, which was really impressive. The whole thing is built on a raised patch of earth and rocks, surrounded by huge fortified walls. Walking round the ruins was like a real adventure, crumbling ancient walls lost in a forest of trees. The best part was that we had the place almost to ourselves except for the excavation team, so we were able to have a quiet little nap on the mountainside. We didnt get a guide, so we didnt really find out too much about the history of the ruins except that every house was found with dead people buried underneath, and that the Incans couldnt get past the massive stone walls to take the city- they had to put it under seige to conquer it. The photos are the best way to describe it I guess.

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After getting back to Chachapoyas we decided we had had enough of the highlands for a while, and so began our 5 day journey to Iquitos in the heart of the Amazon.

Posted by St Martins 10:25 Archived in Peru Tagged seniors Comments (0)

Trujillo

Stuff made of mud!

Trujillo is a costal city, famous for being home to the capital of the ancient moche and chimu cultures. This was pretty much why we were here too so shortly after arriving we hopped straight onto a tour to visit Chan Chan, a giant adobe city (adobe = made of dried mud) constructed by the Chimu people, which has somehow mostly survived over 1000 years of exposure to the elements. Now all that remains is a series of mud walls, loads of which have really intricate murals along them.

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We only visited one complex inside the city (the city is made up of loads of complexes, stretching over 20 squared kilometers) and walking around the place was really cool, just the sheer size of the walls are impressive in themselves, some of them still standing at 50-60 feet high- and to think how long they´d been around for was cool too.

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Around the outside of the ruins were a load of cool ´peruvian hairless dogs´, dogs that are born without hair, and evidently have a higher body temperature than normal dogs and so used to be used as leg warmers for arthritis sufferers. Brilliant.

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The next day we went off to explore some even older ruins- the moche pyramids, two giant adobe stepped pyramid temples near trujillo built over 1500 years ago. These buildings have survived due to their location in the desert, where they were buried under sand for hundreds of years. Unfortunately our tour group had left without us (in typical peruvian fashion) so we were forced to wait around for a bit while the company sorted us out with a taxi to the site. Upon arriving we were taken around by an english guide who explained that the smaller Huaca de la Luna (temple of the moon) is the only pyramid that had been excavated, and that they still need funds to excavate the huge 41 meter high Huaca del Sol (temple of the moon). Which is cool in itself just to think that theres a giant pyramid just sat there and no-one knows whats inside!

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So we were taken around the pyramid which is still really well preserved with loads of really intricate murals and mosaics, which have still retained their colours because they were all buried under sand. It was really interesting seeing all the different rooms (some found full of human sacrifices!) and ceremonial rooms and stuff. Apparently the Moche used to fill in their temples completely and then build a new one on top (hence the stepped pyramid shape), which means they cant excavate the whole thing without it collapsing, but the stuff they have found inside are pretty cool- including some pretty graphic erotic pottery.

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The outside of the Huaca de la Luna was for me one of the most impressive parts, still made completely of dried mud, the outer walls are covered in brightly coloured murals and must have looked amazing at the time, it was really incredible how the colour had survived after 1500 years!

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After the pyramids we were taken to a little shop where some guy blew an old trumpet for us, then we headed back to Trujillo for the night.

Posted by St Martins 16:09 Archived in Peru Comments (0)

Lima, Huaraz and the Cordillera Blanca

General laziness

sunny

So, after getting all sandy and hot in Huacachina we headed off to Lima, where we stayed in the posh area of Miraflores. Lima has a bit of a bad reputation for crime, so we spent our entire time in the rich district which was nice and safe. We didnt actually get up to much at all in Lima, except for walking along the costal cliffs and enjoying the metropolitaness of it all- the likes of which we hadnt seen since Buenos Aires. We also found a computer that would read all our virus infected memory cards, so spent a whole day uploading a ton of photos.
Our next stop was Huaraz, up in the mountains again surrounded by one of South Americas most spectacular andean mountain ranges, the Cordillera Blanca. The custom is to spend a few days trekking around the mountains, but after colca canyon and the sandboarding, we had had enough of any form of physical excercise and decided instead to be lazy and take a bus tour around the mountains.
The tour was a pretty good way to do it in our eyes, the bus stopped off first at the completely wrecked town of Yungay, which had been covered by tons of ice and granite when an earthquake loosened a huge chunk of Peru´s tallest mountain, Huascaran, causing a huge avalanche. The area had been nicely redone however, kind of like a huge memorial, with flowers and monuments. There was a big pile of metal in the middle that had once been a bus, which gave us a pretty good idea of how powerfull the avalanche had been. It was also the 40th anniversary of the event and so there were lots of people singing and showing their respect which was quite nice.

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Our next stop was for lunch where we had our first taste of cuy, or roasted guinea pig, a gruesome affair with claws and head (complete with pained facial expression) all served on the plate. The taste didnt really justify eating the poor little thing though so probably wont be trying it again!

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We were then taken to a series of bright turquoise glacial lakes in between two huge mountains, which were quite nice- even better however was the view of the surrounding mountains and glaciers.

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Once we had reached a mirador which gave us a view of some more mountains and of the lakes from high up, we headed back to Huraz (unexhausted for a change) where stayed the night before heading on to our next destination: Trujillo.

Posted by St Martins 11:55 Archived in Peru Comments (0)

Huacachina

Sandboarding in the Desert

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Two busses and a taxi away from Colca Canyon, we arrived in Huacachina, a proper oasis. The town is built amongst the trees surrounding a lagoon in the middle of an otherwise huge and arid desert.

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The town is a bit expensive and touristy, but the sandboarding/dune buggy trip was pretty cheap, so we booked ourselves on for that evening (too hot to go in the day).
After a day of sitting in the shade, we were strapped in to our buggy and sped around the desert for 30 mins, shooting over the top of huge dunes, and whizzing down huge drops. It was an awesome experience, just like a rollercoaster, only with more mortal danger, and with stunning views over the sprawling desert.

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The sandboarding itself was fun, although for anyone who has ever gone snowboarding, much harder. The sand is so loose and heavy that its impossible to carve or turn, so you just have to go in a straight line, picking up speed rapidly. Most people ended up just lying down on their bellies on the board, which was a lot easier.

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Just as we were emptying our pockets and shoes of sand, one of the guys on our buggy found a dog lying in the middle of the desert, he looked pretty dried out and was sneezing compulsively, so we stuck him in our buggy and prompty scared the shit out of him on the return journey (which was even hairier than the way out) before taking him to the vets- good deed for the day complete.

So although we only stayed a night in Huacachina, we had a great time- definately reccomended to anyone passing through.

Posted by St Martins 13:28 Archived in Peru Comments (0)

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