The homeland of Paddington Bear
… well - we're hardly in "Darkest Peru" as we're currently on the palm tree scattered beach of Mancoro but it's still in Peru.It's been too long since the last blog to fill you in with all the happenings in between so the photos will have to suffice until I see you next and fill in all the details.As such I will pick up from the Amazon Jungle where we visited about two weeks ago.
We left a small Ecuadorian town called Laga Agrio and travelled 2 hours by mini bus and then a further 3 hours by motorized canoe to reach the huts in the jungle and met the rest of the group which were a good group of young, mixed nationality people - all of us equally excited about what lay ahead.We spent the next 5 days nature spotting by canoe, piranha fishing (and yes I caught one), lagoon swimming (yes - in the same waters as the piranhas), jungle hiking and visiting the indigenous jungle communities including the Shamen (a sort of Jungle witch doctor).Having no electricity in the jungle our evenings were spent sat around by candlelight playing cards amongst a hotchpotch of very curious and not at all shy crawling, flying, running insects and other sky creatures some of which more resemble something out of an alien movie than the jungle taking a liking to my hairless head.We were very fortunate with our sightings which included a snake which caught bats in mid-flight, crushed and then ate them just meters from where we ate and slept which itself sat just centimeters from a hand-sized tarantular… not the most comforting of bedtime stories.In addition to this freshwater pink river dolphins were daily spectacles along with gallons of monkeys of various species.
From here we headed several hundred km south to the breath-takingly beautiful town of Banos which is surrounded by mountains, waterfalls and volcanos.Famous for it's natural volcanically heated spa pools a dip had to be our first day's activity - swapping between the scalding hot pools to the icy cold pool for maximum contrast (and body shock) in the spectacular, outdoor setting.So as not to over indulge in life's pleasantries we decided to punish ourselves with a 30km cycle ride to take in the 5 (almost) nearby waterfalls.Kitted outwith nothing more than our hire bikes and soft drinks we headed out in the fine weather…. Just past the point of no return the winds picked up enormously and the heavens opened and it rained and rained and rained delivering the challenging conditions for the rest of the day.Several hours later and soaked to the skin wecompleted the course feeling a little worse for wear.Luckily we flagged down and bribed a friendly rural chap to take us and our bikes back into town in the back of his wagon… for the record - I felt no shame in this action… only joy and relief.
We left Banos the next day and headed south once more to the town of Rio Bamba to board the early morning departure of Nariz Del Diablo (The Devil's Nose) railway. Due to the deaths of two Japanese tourists it is now prohibited to ride on the roof of the train as it hurtles along the perilous tracks through the mountainous and remarkable vistas… disappointing ??? Yes - however, that was only the beginning … Due to recent heavy rains, floods and landslides the Nariz del Diablo wasn't running at all - instead a "B ride" train acted as substitute. This information should have been prime candidate for the official web-site that still published that the train was running to the usual schedule as per normal… tourist trap ??? Noooo - maybe they just forgot to update the website. We proceeded with the "B ride" train ride anyway and it was very picturesque and completed that day's travelling in a town called Cuenca - home to the controversial Panama Hat (see photo section for details) After a couple of very lively nights enjoying fiesta with the Ecuadorian people in a local nightclub we headed out of Ecuador and into Peru via a small town called Loja.
Two days travelling at breakneck speeds around blind,hairpin corners at ear-popping, nose-bleeding altitudes does not sound like fun to everyone but once above the cloud level the resulting view of the lush green, cloud covered mountain tops as far as the horizon is comparable with little else on earth - a truly unforgettable experience.
This brings us to here and now in Mancoro where we are enjoying a well earned few days downtime in this sun-drenched (bloody hot) coastal oasis. Whilst here I have discovered my newest favourite dish called "ceviche" which consists of raw white fish that has been marinated with lime juice, coriander and red onions and served with fried yukka chips…my goodness it's tasty.
The forecast for the next few days is mostly perfect with occasional bursts of fresh seafood and frequent downpours of cold cerveza… Mi Mucho Gusto !!!!