Many thanks to Matt for this great insight into the Manu Team’s first week at the project…
THE AMAZON PERUVIAN ADVENTURE PART 1
Hello from the Manu team in Peru. We thought it was time to check in and update everyone on our first week in the Peruvian rainforest so far! We arrived in Cuzco early Wednesday morning after the marathon of a flight from London via Madrid. The first thing that struck us as we stepped outside the small airport terminal was the spectacular mountain range surrounding the city on all sides. That tied with the cold mountain air soon woke us up from our jetlagged state and off we went on a quick tour of the city courtesy of our team leader Jimmy.
The streets were filled with life as we walked through the colonial architecture of the city, with the Peruvians in their traditional dress going about their daily lives and wide eyed tourists taking in all that was to see. After our flying visit, we hopped on the mini bus which was to take us to the Manu Learning Centre deep into the Amazonian Rainforest of the Manu National Park. The journey itself was an experience never to be forgotten with a great mixture of arid mountain scenes as we climbed tiny dirt track roads into the Andes, then into the cloud rainforest as we descended down the other side.
At the time the ride was described as a cross between a rollercoaster and a few rounds with Mike Tyson as we looked over the mountain edges only a few feet away. In can safely be said that we all nearly wet our pants on several occasions! However as we faced a two hour delay in the cloud forest section due to a broken down truck, we had an opportunity to stand and appreciate a clear night sky. Unlike the UK, no light pollution corrupted the sheer beauty of the starry night sky as we stood their listening to the wildlife of the jungle around us.
We arrived at the Manu Learning Centre on Thursday morning after a trip down the local river in a traditional Peruvian river boat. The great green walls of the Jungle followed the river each side, making for some breathtaking photo opportunities at the time. The Centre with its bamboo construction looks like something out of the movies and we received a warm welcome from the staff and volunteers there. Naturally we spent the first few hours jumping over all the new big bugs but due to them being so numerous, you soon have to get over them.
We sat and enjoyed lunch with the volunteers who come from a broad range of locations around the globe and in the evening we took a night walk through the rainforest looking for species of frogs and snakes for the resident academics to study. During the next two days, we took part in jungle treks with the volunteers, observing the numerous wildlife and vegetation. Matt proved to be the most clumsy of the group by falling over several times…much to the amusement of the others.
During the day, we attempted to learn Spanish with Jimmy and one of the Peruvian staff members with mixed results. Maria whilst trying to ask in Spanish ´where is the bathroom´ managed to actually make the Peruvian think she was calling him a thief! Luckily however he took the mistake as a joke and laughs were had by all.
On the Sunday we packed our things and made the trip to Salvacion via the river boat and a jungle trip. We gave it the name of the ´killer trek´due to the hill we had to climb with two big backpacks per person but were rewarded at the top with a viewing platform overlooking the river and the mountains beyond. During our last few days in Salvacion we´ve taken part in building a bio garden for a local family and planting trees to improve the sustainability of the local farming community. The bio gardens project set up by the MLC is to give families a place to grow their own produce, along with another source of income from selling any surplus. The work has been highly rewarding and its great to know that what we are doing now will improve the local people’s lives for the future to come.
All in all, our first week has been one with many a good experience and although we have so many more stories to tell, we will save the rest for next time. So before our time runs out in the local internet café, we will call it a night and update you again soon! Watch this space for the Amazon Peruvian Adventure part 2.