Monday, 9/20, 21, 22, Cusco to Pilcopata
Updated: Jan 3, 2022
I could have slept until 8 am but I got up at 7:15. I wanted to have time to pack and shower. I was hoping the water would come back on early. It did, around 8:30 am. I stretched and did some exercises. I got a hot shower a little after 9 because I waited till I had good water pressure. Interesting how flexible you need to be to have a good time traveling. I usually get instructions for the next day, the night before. Most of the time we don’t know exactly what we are doing, sometimes we don’t even know what time we are starting. Flexibility and no expectations.
I was ready before 10 am. We left the wet laundry on the line and the caretakers will finish it for us. Thank goodness. So nice. I brought my wet sweatshirt ‘cuz it’s the only one I have. We found an ATM to get more cash to pay for this extra Jungle trip. It was $200 each for 3 days and 2 nights, plus food, tours, travel and lodging. Good deal!
The next stop was the market so we could get drinks, etc. Larry and I walked around with Juan Carlos, a tour helper. He speaks good English. He’s young, in his 20’s. Nico is the driver, also young but speaks no English, he speaks Spanish and Quechua. Heradio speaks Quechua but Juan Carlos does not. While we shopped, Larry found some new ‘tennis’ shoes. We also got a few snacks for the road. We drove out of town over many mountain passes. We went over at least 3 big passes. The views were amazing. The road was good. Lots of switchbacks. Nico is a good driver. I liked that both Larry and I got to be Looky Lou’s! It was hard to take any pictures while driving through.
Nico had washed the van inside and out before we left Cusco. We stopped by a small town, picked up a young man who was friends with Heradio. He had a bag of rolls. Next, we drove to his work at a cement company. Somehow Heradio thinks Larry used to drive big trucks. The new guy drives cement trucks. He wanted to get a picture of Larry, him and me, in front of his truck. The security guy said no. But we all took a picture together out in front of the cement plant! Crazy. We dropped the young man with his rolls down the road at a gas station. We waved goodbye. “Adios”.
We stopped on the top of a dry bald mountain. It had great views-360 degrees. We had our picnic lunch here. We all had chairs and the ice chest with a tablecloth was our table. They had picked up a meal from the market earlier. Mine was delicious. It had a large base of beets, some beans, green salad/spinach, and a fried egg. We had some juice too and rolls, of course! On the other side of the road was a cross. So, after we ate, we went over to take some pictures. The drive was good but long. We got to the jungle hotel about 7 pm. Paraiso Pilcopata Inn. (LINK)
We made a few stops for more pictures. We tried to see the Country’s bird, cock on the rock, in a spot Heradio knows they live but weren’t lucky. Larry got a glimpse of one but not a picture. We did see a Mot Mot and got some shots of him.
We had a large dinner. Mine had another one or 2 eggs in it. Eggs for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Ha ha ha... Heradio was trying super hard to get my vegetarian thing right. The food had been great but was too much and too late for me. Not sure what time we went to bed. I thought I’d sleep great, but I did not. I had the alarm set for 5 am. We were supposed to get up and hike to a mirador to do yoga and stretch. Then have breakfast. I slept for a while until the thunder and lightning started…..maybe around 2 am. It went on for 2 hours with heavy rain. When the alarm went off at 5 and it was still raining, I just tried to go back to sleep.
Tuesday, September 21 Pilcopata
It stopped raining after breakfast about 10am. Larry and I explored the resort. We went down to the river, walked around on trails and looked at plants and birds. Larry got many good photos of blue gray tanagers, red collard aracari and another red tanager. I was able to get a shot of a hummingbird feeding on a flower. Heradio took us around his property too. He told us the names of all his trees and plants. He has pineapple, papaya, avocado, cocoa and many more. It was a super fun place to explore.
After lunch, we got in the van and drove 30 minutes to a nearby town that has boat rides. Since it had rained so much, the boat drivers didn’t want to go out. While we were waiting on the boat dock, Larry chatted with a man from Czech Republic. He’s been in Peru for 6 months. Before Peru, he was in Chile for 5 years. He’s been riding his bike for 15 years around South America. He was interesting. I spotted a bright red, black and white bird that turned out to be a cardinal. There were a pair and we both got some great pics of them guys. Since no boats were running, we left to another place on the river called Cocha Machuwas. It was a short hike down to the river. It was overgrown with water plants. There were wooden rafts, and we took one with another couple with their guide. We floated through the water plants…. on a trail somewhat, to a tall platform about 20 yards away. It was about an hour of bird watching and we saw a ton of birds…..I just can’t remember their names! Well, one…. a fabulous Military Macaw! Enjoy the pictures. Up on the tower, a beautiful black butterfly with blue spots on his wings, became our new best friend. He landed on me and stayed a long time. He visited everyone and eventually Larry got his turn.
The road in Manu national park is dirt and rocks. There is a lot of water coming off the mountains with lots of washouts and detours. Plus, it’s only one lane. Our driver honks at every blind curve. It’s exciting when you come upon a car head on! It took about an hour to get back to the resort. They fired up the pizza oven and we had yummy pizza for dinner. In the evening, Larry and I looked at all our pictures. We went to bed about 10:30pm.
Wednesday September 22 Pilcopata to Cusco
Today we got up at 7 am to hike up to the lookout point. The hike was short but steep and through a heavy tropical rain forest. Nico and Juan Carlos carried up our breakfast and coffee. Heradio let us through a relaxing and energizing yoga routine. It felt so good to stretch our bodies in the warm sun. The mirador has a wonderful view of the river and valley with mountains on each side. A spectacular way to start the day. Nico and Juan Carlos set up chairs and a table for our yummy breakfast.
There is a family that takes care of the resort. They have a house on Heradio’s property. They clean the rooms and make the meals. We never officially met them except for Jung the son. He’s 10 years old. He went out with us our first night to the lagoon to look for caimans. He showed us around in the dark with flashlights all the things that come out at night. It was a bit scary but mostly fun. We saw a ton of frogs and toads. We may have gotten a glimpse of the baby caiman but no photos. Yung doesn’t know English but he’s enthusiastic about the outdoors and wants to share it. I liked him!
After our breakfast, Yung took us on a challenging but very interesting hike through the forest looking for whatever we might come across. Yung communicated with us by pointing out bugs, flowers and plants. He showed me one and when I went to touch it, he said “No toques”. I need to learn more Spanish! I took many pictures of flowers and bugs. It was pretty steep and slippery on the way down. Larry slipped and fell but no injuries. I was happy I didn’t fall. It was hot, humid and sweaty!
We showered after hiking down the slippery slope. We packed to leave but it felt like we just got here. We enjoyed every minute we were here. Even the rain was a bit magical. It brought the birds out after it stopped. I’m excited about Heradio’s plans for the expansion of his Eco Resort. He will soon start building a pool by his lagoon and start a botanical garden. He will add a few small restaurants and he has his covered patio for music events among other plans he has. We offered to come back next year and help with anything he needs. I’m already planning our next adventure to Peru…. September 2022! (LINK) We sadly packed for our 6 hours drive back to Cusco. While we were loading up the van, a small process, we had macaws and parrots fly overhead. The macaws landed too far away in the tall trees to get any pictures. Larry did get a few photos of the parrots. We said ‘Adios’ to the family that cooked for us. We were able to get a group photo in front of the resort sign. It feels so good in the jungle. I can’t wait to go back!
Back on the scary dirt roads. This time there was a lot more traffic on the way out of town. Heradio took us to a farm on the outskirts of Pilcopata. He asked the owner if we could look around their property. They had cows and their property was right on the river. The owner said they caught fish to eat right there. We also saw their garden and in some tree they had wild orchids growing from them. It was very nice to have let us look around. People here seem happy living their simple lives, their best lives. This town is a typical Peruvian town- not fancy at all. It had maybe 8 or 10 streets. A town center, which is having a facelift right now. We visited the mercado and a street Barbacoa. Larry said it was delicious…. whatever meat product he ate.
On the way up the hill, we almost hit or got hit by a large bus coming down. Both vehicles slammed on our brakes. Not too scary but exciting the rest of the ride was uneventful. We stopped for lunch and had a picnic on the mountain with a beautiful but cloudy view. I was very impressed about the food they made for us the past few days. It was too much food for me, but it was great! We made a stop for a visit to a cute village right on the river, called Paucartambo. We walked through the town to the plaza, past the church. They had a sweet little garden with many spectacular flowers, complete with a gardener today. I spotted a new hummingbird with a long tail. I still don’t know what it was, but I got some cool photos. I was happy. We walked back through town, only 5 minutes to grab a coffee. As we were drinking it at a café, we watched a horse walk himself down the main street solo. We found a cool monument with a statue on the main road. We had to climb up 3 flights of stairs, but it was worth it.
We arrived back at our home in Cusco at 5:30 pm. We found out that we needed to go into town to the main plaza to meet with our Inca Trail guide. We took a cab, and we were able to find the tour office easily. We got our duffel bag, sleeping bag and a set of hiking poles for me. The guide told us what to expect each day. What to bring. What time to be at San Francisco Plaza for bus pickup. We sat at a tall table outside the travel agency ‘box’. It was cold. We found out that our first night is at 12,900 feet and would be cold. Oh, Joy! We took a cab back to the house. Heradio said he’d take us in the morning. We got semi-packed and went to bed at 10 pm. We need to get up at 3:30 am. Oh, Joy!!