PERU

Chorrillos Harbour

Chorrillos Harbour

We had a bit of a lay in yesterday morning, we were leaving for the airport at 9am. The flight was on time and by lunchtime we were back in Lima. Lunch was our first priority and we went to a restaurant overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Chorrillos harbour was our destination after eating, here there was a fish market, fruit stalls, men playing guitars, and lots of Peruvian families out for the afternoon. It was a bustling and vibrant place to be. This was an excellent people/life watching place, I could've stayed there a lot longer, but most of the group were returning to the UK yesterday and needed to get to the airport, we were staying overnight and making our way to the airport today. There was time to look over the sea wall to take one final look at the birdlife, the most interesting of which for me were the Peruvian Pelicans, there were loads of them!!

Star Struck, Ollyantaytambo And Carnival In Cusco

A Humming Bird

A bird watching walk around the grounds of the hotel was first on the agenda today, we saw the Cock Of The Rock, which is the Andean national bird, a golden headed Quetzal and loads of different Humming birds along with other colourful birds. There were Humming bird feeders dotted around and I decided to sit in front of one and just see how many different species would come along.

After about 20 minutes I wandered along to find John, who informed me that we had 15 minutes till check out time and that people were saying that Cameron Diaz was in the sauna which was beside the swimming pool - there was also an area there where banana skins and such like had been put out for birds to feed on. A number of our group were sat around there, as were many other people, waiting to see if the door of the sauna would open - it did once or twice and members of the crew we had seen up at Machu Picchu yesterday were in there but no sign of Cameron Diaz, we decided to leave and go and get our bags from our room to check out.

Machu Picchu!

Machu Picchu

Today was the day I had been most looking forward to since leaving the jungle, I've seen so many pictures on the internet, in books and in brochures of Machu Picchu. It's been in the top ten of my 'must see' list for a number of years and today was the day that I would finally encounter it. With great anticipation we boarded the early morning train from Cusco to Aguas Calientes. Once again the vista was impressive; the four hour journey took us through small Andean villages and farmland ringed by snow-capped mountains. Even though it wasn't anywhere near as cold as we'd been told it would be we snuggled up under the blanket we'd been given and watched Peruvian life out of the window.

The Sacred Valley And Pisac

The Mayor (on the left) of Pisac district

It was a later start today, we met Lucrezia and set off just before 9am for another exciting day. With fresh eyes we could see that Cusco was definitely a place we wanted to take a closer look at, there were lots of Incan built stone walls lining the central streets, a beautiful 17th century cathedral and lots of other buildings with great architectural interest - for now though we were on our way to the lakes of Huacarpay for some bird watching before making our way to the Incan ruins of Pisac.

The scenery at and around Huacarpay lakes was spectacular. We walked along a small track towards a marshy area where birds such as Hooded Siskin, Yellow-winged Blackbirds, Speckled Teal and Yellow-billed Pintail

Jungle To Cusco

Peruvian Railway

John slept most of the boat ride back and I drifted in and out of sleep most of the way as well. Lunch was served on the boat again - another Peruvian delight of chicken and rice steamed in a plantain leaf.

Arriving at Puerto Maldonado we made the short trip to the airport and boarded a plane for Cusco. The temperature in Cusco was several degrees lower than what we had been experiencing and the air was very thin, it affected some more than others, we had guessed it would affect my dad and we were right, it was a relatively short time before he felt short of breath. We made our way to the hotel, where we were greeted with a cup of coca tea, which increases the absorption of oxygen in the blood and helps to combat altitude sickness. Cusco looked like a very interesting place, but John and I were both unbelievebly tired and as it was mid afternoon we decided we would go and get a couple of hours sleep and investigate tonight, I think we were in our room for about 5 minutes before we were both sound asleep.

Another Sleepless Night

 

Early morning on the Las Piedras river

Today was a very sad day, it was time to make our way back out of the jungle, it would be our last breakfast at ARCC before boarding the motorised canoe and heading back down river to overnight again at Tipischa camp.

We stopped en-route at a known Macaw clay lick, the engine of the boat was turned off and we drifted into the trees at the bank of the river, we had a great view of the clay lick on the opposite bank. Macaws are very nervous birds, so we sat watching them drop further and further down in the trees, making sure no predators were around before they finally made for the clay lick about an hour later. Once one braved it, one quickly turned to ten and ten quickly turned to a hundred or more and soon the whole clay lick was alive with blue and red flashes as they flew onto the clay lick, tore off a lump of clay and flew into a nearby tree branch to eat it. The clay they eat serves to detoxify the poisons found in their natural seed diet in the rainforest. The noise these birds made alone was a spectacle and to see them in their natural environment as opposed to seeing them caged as we do in the UK, was magnificent.

The Bushmaster Snake

The banks of the Las Piedras river

We had a slight lay in this morning, we were due for a knock on the door at 4am, but it didn't come until 4.30am, that extra half hour makes all the difference believe me!!

We were going back out on the catamaran canoe this morning, but it was so misty that Joselyn thought we would benefit more from the half hour extra in bed instead. The lake looked mystical shrouded in mist and whilst there was nothing really to be seen in the way of wildlife it was still great to be out on the lake, the air was fresh and cool and a far cry from the hot humid weather we had experienced so far. The sun came up, but it was masked by the mist for quite some time.

The Chair

Cinka

Another 4am start today and this morning we were making a vertical journey to the rainforest canopy platform, which is a wooden platform constructed 120ft up in the boughs of a giant ironwood tree. It is accessed basically by sitting in a metal framed canvas chair, which is then hoisted on winches by some very strong men. As you sit in the chair and begin your upwards journey you suddenly become aware of the space around you and the fact that you can see the tops of bushes, then the tops of small trees, then the tops of bigger trees.

The Giant Otters

 

The boat we used on the ox-bow lake Soledad

I drifted off to sleep and was woken up about 7am by Pepe banging on our door telling us that the giant otters were on the lake which was just outside our room. I was starting to feel better again and we quickly got dressed and raced outside to be rewarded with a magnificent view of three giant otters, playing and swimming in the lake.

Amazon Rainforest Conservation Centre (ARCC)

Turtles in the Amazon jungle

The sights from the boat this morning were incredible, the was mist was curling across the river and you could see the shapes of the trees on the banks through the it. Silence surrounded us and it felt quite eerie, like I was in an adventure movie where we were looking for some long lost artefact. As the sun rose and the mist burnt off, the jungle started to come alive, lots of colourful birds started to fly around and before long the caiman were coming out onto the banks to take up their sunbathing positions

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