The Choro Trail: From La Paz we embarked on a 3 day hike along an old Inka trail, starting up at 4900m among snow-capped peaks, and descending through lush cloud forest to our final destination, the the village of Chairo at 1400m.
After the Choro trail we transferred to Coroico for 1.5 days’ well-earned rest before hitting the jungle. Most of our time was spent alternating between the sauna and the swimming pool – the perfect way to remedy tired trekking feet!
From Coroico it was a 17 hour bus ride along a dusty and bumpy road down to the jungle town of Rurrenabaque. Even though there were only 9 of us, we had a 35-seater bus all to ourselves, just as well as we soon turned it into 1 giant washing line trying to dry all our freshly washed trekking gear. Those who were game for it went for the Mr Bean marathon to pass the time, how many Mr Bean films can you watch back to back?!
From Rurrenabaque we set off on a 5 day jungle and pampas tour. For the jungle part we stayed in a lodge within the Madidi Nacional Park, we did day and night walks, stalking through the jungle (some better than others!) to explore the surrounding wildlife and plant life. We managed to spot lots of tropical birds – including a noisy bunch of Macaws nesting in the cliffs -, a group of about 50-70 peccaries, red howler monkeys, squirrel monkeys, giant bullet ants (you do not want to get bitten by one of those!), caimen and a whole bunch more. The pampas was a rather more relaxed affair, from our river-side lodge we meandered up the river everyday on a dug-out canoe spotting wildlife galore on the river banks – without even having to leave the boat. The wildlife gems included: capibara, cappuchin monkeys, squirrel monkeys, black howler monkeys, 100s of caimen, an anaconda, terrapins, pink river dolphins and an assortment of birds – storks, hawks, herons, egrets, cormorants. We also went piranha fishing and caught ourselves an assortment of fish which we sampled at dinner that night.
While in Rurrenabaque, we took the opportuntiy to visit and lend a hand at onof Quest’s nearby project sites . So we spent 2 days at Inti Wara Yassi’s newest park – Jacj Cuisi. Inti Wara Yassi is an organisation dedicated to rescuing and rehabilitating the plethora of wild animals that find themselves kept in captivity. Jacj Cuisi is still very new and currently only looks after 2 rescued pumas, but it is in need of a lot of construction work, to build more enclosures for animals that will arrive in the future and to improve upon the very basic facilities that the volunteers currently live in. So we found ourselves helping out with preparing the soil for their vegetable garden and building a garage for their pick-up truck. Hard work in the heat of the jungle!
From Rurrenabaque we had a surprise flight back up to La Paz (a mere 45 minutes, doesn’t really compare to 17 hours does it?!), where we spent 1 more night before crossing the border one more time back into Peru. We arrived in Puno (Peru’s main town on the shores of Lake Titicaca) and jumped onto a boat to visit Los Uros – a group of floating reed islands in the middle of the lake. We visited 2 of the islands, got a demonstration of how the islands are made and secured, learned how the Uros people came to settle there and even some Aymara (the local langauge).
Next stop was the sacred valley to spend 2 days white water rafting and camping. We split into 2 boats and had heaps of fun tackling the rapids of the Urubamba river and of course came the inevitable boat wars – sea weed missles and suicide jumps across to the opposing boat to throw its rafters overboard! That left just enough time for a quick afternoon’s horseride up into the valley before making our way to Cusco.
It was a brief stopover in Cusco, hitting the town till the early hours the 1st night to celebrate James’s exam results and a day to prep for the culmination of the trip – the trek to Machu Picchu! Unfortunately the group was booked onto 2 different treks to get to Machu Picchu; so Danny, Jess, Emma, Lizzie, Will and James set off on the famous Inca trail, while Grace, Steve and myself embarked upon the alternative Salkantay trek, all due to reunite in 4 days at Machu Picchu itself. Both treks were sufficiently challenging but ended up being the favourite of the whole trip. Highlights included discovering chicha (a traditional fermented corn drink) on the Inca trai, and hiking up to the glaciars and enjoying thermal baths mid-trek on the Salkantay trek. We all arrived to Machu Picchu at the crack of dawn and spent the whole morning wandering around the breathtaking site and taking in its stunning surroundings. From there it was down to the town of Aguas Calientes for lunch and a quick dip in the hot springs before our train back to Cusco.
It’s the last day of the expedition and we managed to squeeze in 1 more adrenaline fulled activity – bungee jumping from 122m! All that’s left now is to get ready for our epic goodbye party tonight, we shall be hitting the town dressed up to the theme “tight and bright”; starting off with a slap up dinner at Fallen Angel and then dancing the night away at a selection of Cusco’s many discotecas.
Thank you and goodbye!