Arequipa

We stayed in the Wild Rover in Arequipa. This is without a doubt THE place to be! It was a backpackers heaven! We mostly chilled out here anddid some Chilling and eating by the poolexploring around Arequipa as we had many day trips and early mornings before this stop. Some “quiet drinks” at the hostel, board games and dancing, followed by poolside chilling and lots of food was well deserved and enjoyed here!

There is an option to go to Colca Canyon from here however we were just passing through for a couple of nights and really needed a break so opted not to do this as we heard mixed reviews!

I did however venture out with some new found backpacking friends and see the local food markets where I saw many weird and wonderful things. I also and enjoyed the beauty the town had to offer.

Tips: This is definitely less touristy and long pants would be a good idea here! Also if you can book the Wild Rover in Cusco I’d imagine it would be crazy and amazing, its one that fills up quickly though so you must plan in advance.

The Floating Islands

We used Puno as our base to go and see the floating islands! Another bright and early start, this time for Lake Titicaca.

Our first stop was the Uros Islands. These are floating islands made from reeds. This was my favourite part of the day trip. We learned how the islands were created with layers of reeds and had a munch on the roots as the islanders do to keep their teeth so white! The hand crafts here were amazing. Perfect, beautiful, vibrant coloured hand stitches on a variety of hand sewn products.

The second stop was Tequila Island. This island had fabulous views. the men on this island do all the knitting! We learned that you could tell the status of everyone on the island based on their hats. Red and white meant single, red and blue for married and multi-coloured for authority figures. The hat was worn to the back when engaged, to the right when looking for someone to marry and to the left when single and not looking for something. The women wore colourful skirts and small pompoms when single.

The textiles and clothing meanings were fascinating to me as I am always attracted to the different textiles in every country I visit!

Note: the boat ride was very long each way and I would highly recommend travel sickness tablets!

The Amazon Rainforest

We set off from Puerto Maldonado on what has to be the highlight of any trip I’ve been on to date; to visit Tambopata National Reserve. Hello Amazon Rainforest! Eight girls and out tour guide Esau took off down the river to start the most wonderful adventure of all.

Our first stop was to go walking through a tree top canopy and zip lining 80 metres up. Oh my, what a view. We also had a chance to chill out in some hammocks, on ground level of course, eat lunch and enjoy the nature all around us. Monkeys swung low and close to the huts, fabulously coloured parrots landing an arms stretch away and in indescribable hum of music created by the rainforest. We also had a chance to go kayaking along the river to soak up the atmosphere from another angle. It was extremely relaxing and peaceful. Until I saw a caiman (similar to an alligator) swimming near my kayak! Every time a floating log or anything else came near I panicked and couldn’t wait to get back to the safety of the boat.

We also went to Monkey Island where Esau pointed out the many monkeys hiding amongst the branches. He told us about the different type of monkeys we saw. The most common being the Capuchin monkey.

Monkeys

The next stop was to check into the Tambopata reserve. We stopped at a cabin where out passports were stamped and where there was lots of information on all the different types of wildlife that we might come across. We hiked through the rainforest, then canoed across lake Sandoval to what would be our base for the next few days. The sweltering heat and humidity all worthwhile for our little slice of paradise that awaited. It’s a beauty like no other, all of your senses are assaulted at once, the views, the heat, the sound, the smell. It is blissful. The cabins where squeezed around the trees and hammocks hanging haphazardly around the place. The cool showers were a welcome attempt to freshen up.

Our days were spent exploring on land and water, enjoying amazing sunrises and sunsets and hearing all sorts of information and stories from our crazy intelligent and knowledgeable guide Esau. We saw: giant otters, turtles, herons, monkeys, caiman, wild boar, parrots, butterflies, spiders, but to name a few. Our guide always having us in the right place, at the right time, so that we got the most from our experience.

We rowed across the lake watching the giant otters swim and jump. Monkeys jumped through trees following our boat as we stayed close to the lake shore. We went for a walk through a section of the rainforest where the trees were 300+ years old such as fig trees, and walking palm trees. We had some fun climbing trees and swinging from vines just like in the childhood cartoons. We went to a quiet bay where you could go into the water if you dared. Only three of the girls were brave enough for that as they had to constantly bang a stick around to ward off any unwanted visitors such as caiman! Esau caught a baby caiman with his bare hands for us to see and hold before putting him back.

As we ate in the evenings we flicked through photos and Esau told us the correct names for all the creatures we had seen He also told us about the “non-contact” people. A special area of the rainforest that is closed and for them only. The two main tribes are the “Genie” meaning tall and hairy and the “Machiguenga” meaning short. (Phonetic spelling based on our guides pronunciation) He also told us that they believed in cannibalism, what a lovely bed time story!

The sounds and beauty of the Rainforest are something everyone needs to experience. No matter how hard anyone tries I believe no piece of writing or pictures could possibly capture the vast beauty there is to experience here.