Friday, 29 September 2006

la Selva

Just returned from a week in the forest. Picaflor Reserach Centre is basically a family home complete with a two year old called Picitto. As the only volunteer for most of the week I had to help out with building a new chicken house, pumping water etc. I also spent a lot of time out in the forest mostly in the 1km square that Picaflor own, including tuesday night at the Cassita, a small hut they built in the middle of the forest.

The main house is three stilthouses linked by walkways a central area with kitchen, bathrooms and library, a family wing and a guest bungalow. it is a nice mix of the traditional style for the area (thatched roof, wooden walls) and new ideas ( electric lights from solar power cells just outside).

On monday I went out with Laurel the director of the centre to the boundary of the Concesion Conservacion which they manage. It took about 9 hours in total including a visit to an illegal logging camp at the far edge of the concesion. slightly disapointed to learn that the Cusco road was only another 3 hours further so this isn´t deep forest but apparently the national park proper is completely closed to people, except possibly some uncontacted tribes. On tuesday I got a short visit to an oxbow lake but didn´t see any giant otters.

The forest is quite different to those I have seen in Asia being almost totally flat and with well marked trails at least within the private land.

I haven´t seen quite as much wildlife as I´d hoped but did see Capybara, brown capuchin monkeys and agouti and paca near the house.

I was able to get free lifts in and out with the boat from the neighbouring tourist lodge so didn´t take the local taxi boat which apparently takes a full day for the journey we did in a few hours.

Amazon Wildlife

On returning to Puerto I decided to treat myself to one night at a high price hotel 36 USD!! for which I get a very clean private cabin with hot water, cable tv and a minibar and breakfast and airport transfer included. It´s a surreal experience to step form a hotel that could be in Europe onto the mud street outside and dodge the feral dogs and even more feral motorbike drivers. Tommorrow I fly to Cusco and get back to roughing it.

Wednesday, 20 September 2006

still in Puerto


Made contact with the director of Picaflor Dr Laurel Hannah who is in town for supplies arranged to meet up tonight and to get the boat together tommorrow. This morning went across town to get my permit for the reserve from INRENA, took longer than expected as no one told me they have two offices.


In the afternoon took another motokar (basically a tuk tuk over) to El mirador a big tower from where you can see the whole town it looks a lot bigger than I thought yesterday but is still surrounded by jungle. Not far from the bottom I tried Chica de Jora at a little stall, not that impressed to be honest but perhaps its an aquired taste. Got a motorbike taxi back, unlike Vietnam they are organised and all wear yellow jackets.


Otherwise Peru seems quite like Asia in a lot of ways, taxi drivers hailing me in the street, paving slabs worn to fine polish, dogs and internet cafes everywhere. However here there are proper toilets not squats and its different being able to understand some of the language.


Another difference is the politics everywhere, all along the coast buildings had candidates names painted on and last night there was a busy meeting in an ARPRA hall down the street. In Vietnam of course the party and monuments to revolution are everywhere but otherwise I never noticed such things in Asia. Guess it would be different about now?  


Anyway will update next with news of the forest of the Madre de dios.

Tuesday, 19 September 2006

Puerto Maldonado

The return to Lima was uneventful but it´s amazing how Barranco felt like coming home after having just 2 nights there before. Flew very early in the morning to Puerto Maldonado. Suddenly it is properly tropical and humid with it. Puerto seems quite a small town and very wild west except for the tour agencies and designer clothes shops which change it a bit. Like everywhere in Peru there is a Plaza de Armas in the middle, unlike other places two of the 4 streets running off it turn into dead ends at the river within 200m.

Wandered to the end of one and finally saw the river, I don´t think it is the Amazon at this point but it´s still pretty impressive. Will be down river from thursday so I´ll write a final message tommorrow.

Monday, 18 September 2006



Spent two nights in Huacacina a tiny oasis town in the middle of the desert, very relaxed place but so many hotels with foreigners that it could be Australia. The town is surrounded by huge sand dunes and has a lagoon in the middle. There are lots of dogs not just wandring the streets but walking into the hotels and restaurants unstopped it seems quite bizare.

Saturday, 16 September 2006


 The bus to Nazca was easy to book and I found a travel agent just by the bus station to book a hotel and flight over the lines. The scenery on the bus journey was stunning all deserts and mountains and we passed through little towns where local miners got on and off. The hotel I have to say was shit but at 25s you get what you pay for. Kept awake all night by cocks crowing, people shouting and traffic so not my best when I got to the airport.

The flight was certainly interesting in a 6 seater plane where I got the co-pilots seat. The lines are hard to see but the size of them is impressive enough.

had the option of waiting in a posh hotel near the airport but got the bus times wrong and ended up with two hours to spare in the bus station. Not feeling so good not sure if its just the lack of sleep but the next place is Huanica where I intemd to do nothing for a day or so.

Thursday, 14 September 2006


Spent the  day  touring Paracas  national  reserve,  got a  boat  out to the Islas  Ballestas to see  penguins and sea lions, incredible  views of the sea lions and  the islands are full of  sea caves and arches.    Then went to  the Paracas museum where there are mummies from the  Paracas culture the  oldest is about  2600 years old and to a rock formation on the  coast called  Cathedral. to get to it the bus had to cut across the desert and afterwards the driver couldn´t find the way back to the road at first so now I can say I´ve been lost in the desert.


Had cerveza for lunch in a little fishing villageated  in lime juice to make it soft, absolutely delicious and with   corn and potato vas well very filling.


Have now put my first film in to develop then I´ll see about getting some pictures up.

Wednesday, 13 September 2006



Whimped out of the cheapest option for leaving Lima and took an ejecutivo class bud to Pisco, unfortunately arrived at 5pm exactly the time when thanks to jet lag Im least alert. Luckily the first grifter I ran into was from a proper travel agent and wanted to sell me a room and tour so everything was sorted.


Pisco feels much safer and more relaxed than Lima already and looking forward to tommorrows tour of Paracas reserve.


 First day in  Peru

I arrived at Lima  airport without a hitch unfortunately my luggage didn´t and ended up being sent on a different`plane the next day. This gave me a day in Lima with othing but the clothes I stand in. Lima is at least 4 cities put together, near the airport it is all industrial estates, burger stalls and frightening group s of men who might be taxi drivers.

One surprising thing, Lima is cold,  not freezing but a long way from the tropical heat it should be , something to do with the sea currents from the antarctic.

The centre is very like a European city with a cathedral, palace, restaurants etc but just past the train tracks you can see shanty towns on steep hills. I was stopped for walking in that direction by the tourist police so returned to the Plaza de armas in time to see the changing of the guard or rather the start of it as they stopped half way thorough and a dog with a sunhat and shades took over entertaining the crowd.

Had a menu ejectutivo lunch with noodle soup, chicken and rice then pear segments for desert, not bad for 5.50s.

Barranco where I´m staying is a quiet residential area with a view of the sea and is much more relaxing to wander about in by day but turns ino a tourist drinking area by night.

Finally go my bags at 7 in the evening and to bed at 4am so now ready to leave but no idea where I´m going for the next few days.

Monday, 11 September 2006



Well I made it across the atlantic, it was a near thing as the Gatwick-Madrid plane decided to wait nearly three hours due to "a fault with one of the seats". There is nothing in Bogota airport except this internet kiosk and a tv showing the pink panther so Im taking the chance to see if this works. Should have more to say in future entries.


Incidentally if you ever have the option do not stay at the Russ Hill Hotel Gatwick, it was dire sixty quid for a room the size of a toilet cubicle with no windows and no air. Actually there was a window onto the corridor, no idea why.