Our bus from Cusco arrived in the jungle of Manu, in the city of Pilcopata, deep in the night. In the jungle, nature didn’t seem to stop to rest at night. Instead, it only grew more restless while human life went absolutely silent and still. This allowed us to hear amazing sounds coming out from the canopy.
The first thing we did when we arrived in Pilcopata was search for a hotel that had insects only a bit smaller and less instimidating than the ones we had already encountered on the first sketchy hostel we found on the road. We thought we had found a perfectly “safe” bed to sleep on when… we realized maybe the notion of ‘safety’ does not exclude the presence of scary insects and what not hiding behind window curtains. It was an arduous task to get used to not being the only two living beings sharing the bed, and we could only overcome this first “culture shock” by harmonizing ourselves with life around us. It surely wasn’t going to change..And this process of harmonizing us with ‘everyone’ around ended up being one of the most important parts of the experience of being there afterall.
On the next day we ventured around the town in search of ways to explore the jungle. Little did we know we would find a true ‘oasis’ in the jungle. It was by pure chance that we found ourselves in a private park of 3,000 hectares in the Manu National Park, close to the River Madre de Dios.
The park’s name is Villa Carmen and it was administered by ACCA, the Associacion per la Conservacion de la Cuenca Amazonica.
View from the Bridge of Pilcopata.
Our arrival at the ACCA park of Villa Carmen. This is the horticultural area of the reserve, which also includes a ‘trout farm’.
This is a carcass of a fallen Russian plane. Though it would be cool to say it was from, say, World War 2, in reality this plane belonged to a rich man who possessed 3,000 hectares of forest and bought Russian planes with the needed russian pilots who could drive them, solely for sport. From the plane he could observe the confines of ‘his’ jungle, but also admire the infinite beauty of the Amazon. The story goes that this plane fell during flight, and that the russian pilots escaped the night after, leaving the carcass for the jungle to take over.
Michele being attacked by a flock of innocuous hair-sticking-bees, and on the left the enormous beehive who accommodated their ingenious ‘condominium’ inside the fallen Russian plane.
The Snake Road to Salvación
The Snake Road. An improvised (meaning irregular, probably) taxi took us from Pilcopata to Salvación, as you enter deeper in the forest and resources become scarce, even transportation becomes more costly.
Our first night in Salvación, talking to local women and hearing their stories while sipping freshly squeezed juice from delicious local fruits.
The lagoon park of Salvación. Locals recommended us to take a romantic stroll on these amazonian gondolas.
This is where we heard some of the most beautiful melodies we have ever heard. A million types of birds whistling, singing, dancing, talking, screaming, flying, mingling….. the mystical sounds of the forest were unbelievable, hypnotizing, indescribable.
Unfortunately the blessing of Christ (did you notice it in the bus picture?) didn’t help us make it to Shintúya (town deeper inside the jungle), the earlier night it had poured down like never before, and so high water torrents had formed on the river streams that didn’t allow the bus to pass over. Fearing that if we did end up managing to cross the river to Shintúya we might have gotten stuck there and not made it back in time to Cusco for our flight back to Brazil, we opted to abandon the bus and walk back from the river stream to Salvación. This resulted in a morning stroll in the middle of the jungle that left in us sounds and roars we still don’t quite know who they belonged to.
The sight of the Cloud Forest at 6:00AM. The canopy and the mountains of the jungle. A local woman pointed to those mountains and said “.. el Paititi está en cima a las montañas! / The Lost City is up on those mountains!”
Warnings for the other side of the Rio Alto Madre de Dios.