The Palotoa river expedition
The Palotoa River Expedition (3 days / 2 nights)
It’s not easy to say why this extension is probably the most amazing part of the trip. Maybe because its taxing and rough, a kind of last frontier expedition for true adventurers.
We visit the only indigenous community of the Machiguenga residing in the Palatoa River Valley. To get there is an adventure. To tackle the river we need a crew with a PekePeke Canoe equipped with a special shallow water capable outboard motor that looks much like an exhaust fan on an enormously long stick. From here on, we are all part of the crew, ready to jump into the happily dancing often hip deep white water currents and help to push and shove the boat across rough patches. Without our experienced Machiguenga crew, there is no mastering this wild and untamed river. Ravine by ravine, we move up river in a mix of boating, pushing, shoving and pulling and of course wet from head to toe. But every step is worth it, the untouched landscape, the crystal clear water and the togetherness with the Machiguenga indigenous river folks. Together we explore the valley, up to the so called Pusharo petroglyphs and back. Because of its remoteness and difficulty to get there, the glyphs have been hardly researched. Various shapes of geometrical dimension mix with figures and abstract designs. To the natives Pusharo seems to have a spiritual significance, but when asked, they prefer not to talk about it. The physically challenging journey is a journey into untouched land, in the river pools we see large trouts, catfish and even rays. Birds and butterflies can be observed throughout the day and the riverbed is dotted with footprints, of jaguar, tapir and deer.
Pusharo is not accessible by boat, so we take off with our guide, while the rest of the crew stays back to fish the ponds. For the Machiguenga the upper valley is rarely travelled and our excursions turns into a welcome opportunity to fish these untouched and fish rich waters. NO wonder then that the catch is rich and on return to the village the fish is shared between all the families.
Dinner of course is fresh fish and manioc, the staple diet of the Machiguenga, prepared by the local village chef Erika.
The next morning we push our pekepeke back onto the river and leave these friendly folks back into their own world once more.
To reach the Amazon rainforest (2 days/1 night)
The journey from Cusco or sacred valley alone is an adventure. The initially tarred road takes you from the high altitude meadows into the lushness of the Amazon rainforests. Once you dive down into the cloud forests the road changes to gravel, a dusty and often gutsy experience. Steep ravines and gorges and a narrow road with never ending bends follow us most of the way. Many stops along the way to observe birds and amazing landscapes are the reward of the journey.
We suggest that you break the journey in the lower regions of the cloud forest, where there are a few small lodges. The second day takes us down to the Madre de Dios river, where we exchange the car with a boat. On the way stops to observe birds and marvel at the beautiful scenery.