The Journey

31 Jul

Cusco to Manu: Up at 4 am and bundled in to a van with supplies, cameras and an assortment of volunteers. A Rufous sky streaked above the road leading out of the city, smoke uncoiling from adobe houses by the side of the road, tarmac tapering in to the distant hills. As we climbed into the Andes the van skirted narrow gorges, gravel slipping under the wheels. The Sun rose behind impossibly high peaks, pale gold mountains glinting between dust clouds. Up higher, mist closed around us, rusted Trucks and diggers stalled in our path, scraping at the rock face. For breakfast we stopped in Paucartambo and ate rice, fried eggs with plantain and thick black coffee to wash it down. The air was thin and dry, the sunshine cutting clean shadows in the town square.

We travelled a few more hours until the hills turned a succulent green. The sharp valleys were softened by spreading foliage.  As the van dipped under waterfalls and across bridges, we begun our descent in to the cloud forest. Flowers appeared dotted among ferns, moss dripped from branches..

We stayed overnight at a lodge and watched hummingbirds, a snake and a family of capuchin monkeys, great footage..all caught on camera..

The following day we were up at 5am to see the ‘cock of the rock’ Peru’s national bird that looks like a cockatoo dipped in red paint.

As the van pushed on the air became as warm as a hairdryer. Coca fields blended into the forest and the Madre de dios river sprawled beneath us. From Atalaya a narrow boat carried us downstream, the river broadening and revealing lush jungle. An hour later we moored against clay banks, tottered across a stony beach and climbed the hill to the Manu Learning centre; our jungle home for the next month..

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