Friday 17th August – Manu Road

We were up early this morning because we were heading down to Manu Road, about a 7 hour drive over the mountains and then down into the Amazon Basin. Very few tourists head down this way as it is super expensive and difficult to access. The views were incredible and the windy dirt road hair-raising at times! We stopped off to see different types of birds and amazing viewpoints. Finally we arrived at the Cock of the Rock Lodge which was to be our home for the next two nights. The views from the balcony there were amazing! We could see about 5 different types of hummingbirds feeding on the feeders as the sun was setting. They were all different and beautiful colours! The sounds of the birds chirping and flying around was also incredible!   It was a really peaceful place, with no wifi or electricity during the day – just perfect for nature walks and relaxation and just what we needed after a number of hectic days on the road!

The next day we took a nice walk along the road to see some birds. We were lucky enough to see a number of Cock of the Rock birds which are the national bird of Peru. They are a really strange looking bird – bright red with an evil looking face. We also saw a beautiful Motmot bird with trailing feathers which is a close relative of the Quetzal which I still haven´t seen. It was just a beautiful and tranquil place. Also the vegetarian food they prepared at the lodge was delicious and really healthy! 

On Sunday we were picked up to head further down into the Amazon basin to the real jungle! We could tell that we were getting into a more tropical area – it was raining pretty heavily as we continued the trip about 1 hour down the mountain. It was beautiful scenery, with so many different birds and different plant life. We passed through a number of remote communities – it´s hard to fathom how these people live so far from civilisation hours and hours down the Manu Road. We got our first glimpse of the might Madre de Dios river – a huge river which drains eventually into the Amazon River. The last part of our journey was a short boat ride down the river to the Amazonian lodge which would be our home for the next three nights in the jungle. The Amazonian wasn´t as fancy as the Cock of the Rock, but it was in a beautiful location with a number of walks to complete in the surrounding forest. 

On Monday we completed a walk to the bird watching tower in the morning which had some excellent views out to the river and the surrounding jungle. It was a little scary climbing the tower, as it was about 14m high and secured by some lose cables which meant that it could sway quite a distance when people were walking on it! It was really scary! In the afternoon we had heaps and heaps of rain! There was nothing to do other than put on some warm clothes and read a book on the balcony. It was nice to have some down time! 

On Tuesday – our final day in the jungle, we took a boat tour out to a local lake where we were able to take out some punts and see the local birdlife including a number of Hoatzins – birds which look like dinosuars! They are so strange looking! It was really nice having Robbie paddle me along the river and watching Anna and Alex fight over how best to paddle their punt! We had a really great time on the lake and were back on time for lunch at the lodge. After lunch we climbed the peak behind the lodge – a hike that ended up being a little bit longer than we had thought, we almost didn´t make it back down the mountain before it was dark! But overall it was a beautiful hike with some lovely views at the top of the Madre de Dios. 

Wednesday. Time to return to Cusco. Super sad to be leaving the jungle. We were headed back up the mountain, gaining about 3000m in altitude in one day! We definitely drove a lot faster on the way back up the mountain which was a little bit hair raising at times. After about 6 hours in the car we were back in Cusco. It was time to wash some clothes and get ready for our Machu Picchu adventure.