Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Just Perusing... Bubbles burst, Jungle Japes and Lake Titicaca.

First... No more bad puns I promise.

Before Leaving Cuzco I witnessed a parade, stuck around for Pirate Party and had a rather tasty smoothy from Muse. I wanted to leave Cuzco by the Monday. Not so much because I had become bored/disillusioned but because it offered routine. The same places, the same people, it was easy to stay and this is perhaps the same reason I needed to get out. So I burst the bubble and left on a flight to Puerto Maldonado... Jungle Frontier town.
Cuzco at Night

A rare picture from a night out (from me anyway)
Puerto Maldonado was hot and humid as soon as we left the plane. I found the hostel easy enough and went off for lunch and to find a tourist office. I settled for some Chinese, which is odd as their are loads of Chinese restaurants in Peru but barely any actual Chinese as far as I can tell. I chose a tourist office opposite the chinese and found a four day tour for the cheap price of $190. I had seen online two day tours for $350 so my usual plan of not planning in advance once again panned out. I had a pizza the night before leaving, accidentally ordering takeway which was fine. If I didn't know better I'd reckon Pizza was the national dish of Peru....(but then thats in tourist towns, which Puno, Cuzco and Nazca undoubtedly are, and hey tourist love pizza right?)

Anyway I left for the Jungle at the spritely time of 10am. The lodge was located an hour down river and so off we went.
Day One: Arrival, Upon arrival I was told lunch would be at one and to hang out till then. Which I did, on a Hammock. A German couple returned from activities meaning I wasn't alone in the lodge. After lunch I was taken off for the first activity; Monkey Island. The name was misleading as we saw zilch. Absolutely nothing except a bird that was allegely rare. Back to the Lodge for more hammock time before dinner. Time to meet the other lodge residents. A red howler monkey named 'Lalo' and a cheeky Macaw named 'PePe'.
After dinner we went for the 'night walk'. This proved more fruitful, within five metres of leaving the lodge we came across a Tarantula on a tree. We saw at least five more giant spiders, a humming bird, some weird bugs and different spiders.
Stick Insect
Day Two: After a breakfast we set off for Lake Sandoval, after about an hours walk we reached the lake and boarded a canoe. The sun was out and this meant the temperature rocketed to unbearable. Lake Sandoval is an 'oxbow' lake. Short geography lesson; this mean it was formed by the River breaking its horseshoe shape and straightening leaving an "bow" shaped lake in its place. Anyway it was majestic and grand, surrounded by various wildlife and birds. We climbed an observation tower (we being me and my guide Alicia) and headed for a lunch spot surrounded by butterflies and large red ants. We continued a loop around the lake before heading back to walk. Throughout the trip Alicia explained the things in the jungle to me. Lake and jungle done for the day we headed back to the lodge. This time after dinner we headed down river to look for Caiman. Caiman are basically Alligators. We saw at least 8, Evolutionary flaw... eyes that glow bright red when light is shone at them.
Lake Sandoval

Bird on the Lake

Day Three. Canopy walk and Zip Line. This was the order of the morning after breakfast. Up a large tower and across the 'canopy walk' which was in essence a large rope bridge. This gave view of the jungle from the treeline. However it didn't feel safe, im sure we should have been strapped up. After this we went on to the zip line which again wasn't quite as safe as I felt it should have been... maybe I'm just used to western over safety... BUT it definitely needed a break, proven by the fact I careened into Alicia at one end. Otherwise this was fun. Lunch, oddly was set for four people despite me being the only lodge resident. After lunch I went kayaking while my guide followed in the normal boat. We then visited Monkey Island for a second time. This time, however monkeys appeared pretty soon and they were coaxed to the 'feeding area'. Three different kinds showed up; Brown and White Capuchins and one lone spider monkey.
I returned to camp to find three new arrivals, explaining the extra settings at lunch. Either way I was invited on the Caiman tour for a second time. This time we didn't see as many but we saw a family of the Giant Guinea Pig esque things which was pretty cool.
Canopy Walkway

Zip Line


Feeding the Monkeys
Day Four. I left. I had seena wide plethora of widlife but no snakes much to my disappointment. I had acclimatised to the heat and thoroughly enjoyed my time in the Jungle. My guides had been excellent with the usual Peruvian sense of humour. I have now failed to think up an example of this humour.
Lalo(Monkey) Alicia (Guide) and Pepe (bird)

Dozing with my new friend Lalo

Sun goes down on the Jungle
Arriving back in Puerto Maldonado I braved the heat and quickly arranged a night bus to Juliaca. The junction point for Puno. I did nothing else except check the internet and eat more chinese food. Which was a mistake as it left me pining for the real thing. I bought supplies for my "14" Hour bus and readied myself. This was not the luxury affair of Cruz Del Sur. Still it was pleasant enough, no horror stories as such. I read my book until the lights went out and then I tried to sleep.

I did get some sleep, but through no fault of my own I broke a cardinal travel rule; (according to guides anyway) 'Do not arrive in an new/unfamiliar city at night'. My bus arrived two hours earlier than I was told, 5am would have been acceptable and in light. However 3am is a different story. Too early to find a bus to Puno I succumbed and grabbed a mototaxi to the nearest hotel that would take me. I paid an extortionate ten soles for this ride, at least the hotel room was cheap. Whether or not it was cause I slept enough on the bus or I was worried about the hotel I didn't sleep at all at this joint. 8am came round and I jumped up and as luck had it found a bus to Puno at the end of my road for a measly 2 soles (fifty pence). In between leaving Juliaca and getting to my hostel in Puno, I lost my phone. I blame sleep deprivation.

Puno, in short words is pretty run down and not so nice. A couple of streets are pleasant as is the square but its so obviously just a crossover point for visits to the lake. I did virtually nothing day one blaming this on my disjointed night. The next day I booked a tour to Los Uros; the floating islands. This tour in itself was really interesting to see how people live on floating reeds. I bought some artwork for my wall as some sort of retail therapy and possibly cause I felt a little guilty about not staying overnight on one of these islands as is possible, my excuse this time is time.
Street Volleyball

Fancy Dress

Learning about the Floatation

Traditional Sales technique

Lake Titicaca

Puno photos when I bother to upload them. I was going to make some observations on Peru, but this post has been long enough. Am now in Arequipa, it is lovely to say the least. Tomorrow a city sight see and then mountain biking and Colca Canyon!

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