The journey back to Cusco was a long an ardous one. The novelty of being on the canoe had worn off and we had a couple of long days of travel on the river to endure.
We set off from the Sajino camp early in the morning and started to head down the Manu river. The lack of rainfall meant that the river was very low and therefore the journey would be longer than normal.
,There was no way we would be able to get all the way to Erika Lodge in one day so after 8 hours in the canoe we reached Boca Manu, a small town at the mouth of the Manu river. We had been hoping to see a jaguar on the way back but no such luck, Juan Carlos felt that it was because the day was just too hot.
Boca Manu is a very small town with very limited power, evenings only, and we stayed in a small hostel there, used by several other companies.
There was some excitement to be had as there was a small bar which had power so could serve up cold beer as it had its own generator – very welcome after a few days with no cold drinks. Peru were playing Venezula that night in Football which meant that the power would be left on longer than normal. The place in town with the biggest screen was the local general store. It was slightly strange but good fun to be sitting in a shop drinking a cold beer and watching football with the locals.
After breakfast we set out again but this time heading up river. There still hadn’t been any rain and the rapids on the river were very low. It wasn’t long until we were out of the boat and pushing !
And then the river changed colour, started to swell and rose dramatically – it was raining in the cloudforest. That was the end of pushing but meant that some of the rapids took full power to navigate and we slowed to less than walking pace. There was some drama when the engine failed but there was a spare on board and the boatmen managed to change it in midstream !
This was a full day in the boat with very little to see and only toilet breaks to allow us to stretch our legs. We didn’t arrive at Erika Lodge until about 5pm but soon after arriving we headed off on a walk around the rainforest.
This was interesting as we walked in both daylight and darkness and saw a variety of things particularly spiders and ants. The flora was different in this transition area seeming to be a mix of plants from the cloudforest and those from the rainforest. This area has a large number of Bullet Ants, so called because being bitten feels like being shot, so we had to be careful where we put our hands.
In the morning we were back on the river early as we travelled downstream to a Parrot Clay Lick. Unfortunately, it was raining lightly which meant that only limited numbers appeared on the clay wall, most of which took to the still dry clay under overhanding foliage so our visibility wasn’t great. Fortunately we had seen a clay lick on the river the day before with a full complement of parrots so we weren’t too disappointed.
After breakfast we headed upstream but only for 45 minutes as we went back to Atalaya and then got back in the car. We were going to drive all the way back to Cusco in one day.
The driver of the car was different from the one on the way down and this time he was crazy – a true Peruvian driver – but it did mean that we got back quickly and for that we were thankful.
On the way through the cloudforest we saw that the heavy rain the day before had made a difference and we were lucky to overtake a truck just before fallen rocks that would have blocked him and anyone behind him. A while after this we reached a large line of trucks that were stopped by a landslide that had happened the day before. People were digging at the landslide to try to create a path through. After getting am shovel and helping with the digging our driver told us all to get out of the mini-van, took a run up and flew over the obstruction. I told you he was crazy.
Once we were out of the park it wasn’t long until the driver was stopped by the Police – a S10 bribe got us on the way again !
After this it was a long slog back towards Cusco. We stopped in Paucartambo to stretch our legs and then again at the tombs of the Ninamarca, known as Chullpas, but not for long.
We finally made it back to Cusco at around 6pm after a long and tiring day.