Just one week before the Machu Picchu floods, our trusty leader Emily Jesshope was in Cuzco getting things ready for the Manu project in the Peruvian Amazon. Although she wasn’t as unfortunate as the hundreds which were stranded in the Sacred Valley, she did have a bit of an interesting adventure. Read on to hear more about her trip and to see photos of the project which awaits our team in May.
I just got back from a quick visit to our brand new project this year to check out what they do down there and see what will be in store for my group and I in May. And i have to say i am very excited about this project! It’s a fair journey down to the project site – from the city of Cusco it’s roughly 8/9 hours on a non-paved road that slowly winds its way down to the jungle, then a half an hour ride on a dug-out canoe along the mighty Madre de Dios river – but well worth it, the centre and surrounding jungle is beautiful!
CREES’ land is right next to the Manu National Park and within its buffer zone. The overall aim of their work is to encourage and provide the means for sustainable development in the area, thus preventing the continual destruction of rainforest and helping to protect the National Park which harbours a huge amount of biodiversity.
My planned itinerary down there was somewhat hampered by the weather- perhaps the height of the rainy season was not such a good time for a visit, but it always entails an adventure! I did manage to visit the centre’s biogarden, medicinal and orquid gardens, and walk some of the forest trails – seeing how they carry out their scientific research about the forest and spotting lots of wildlife along the way (inc. titi and squirrel monkeys, bullet ants – you do not want to be bitten by one of those!). Unfortunately the rain prevented me from seeing the local population of endangered blue-headed macaws that the centre monitors at the clay ‘licks’, a plaace where every morning you’ll find a hoard of noisy macaws licking the clay to help neutralise toxins in their diet – weather permitting of course!
I also tried to visit one of the local communities that CREES is working with, helping them create their own biogardens and making their banana growing sustainable. Getting there would normally involve a quick ride across the river in the ‘pecky pecky’ (their small dug-out canoe), a short walk through banana plantations to a dirt track road, from where you can catch a local bus to the community. Not so easy in the rainy season! As it had been raining so much there were no buses running…no problem, we’ll walk we thought. However half way there we realised why no buses were passing, we arrived at what was normally a fairly placid, easily crossable river, now turned into a raging torrent, the road continuing on the other side. We must have spent at least half an hour trying to cross the river at various different points, but in the end decided it was probably best to give up and head back to camp, seeing as the water level was still rising. SO we set off back to where the pecky pecky had dropped us off and only had to wait for 3 hours on the bank of the Madre de Dios river for our pick up – no such chance out there of sending a quick text to ask them to pick us up early!
Even my journey out and back to Cusco was an adventure, there had been lots of landslides along the only road out of the area, one huge one in particular which had been blocking the road for 2 days and the continuous rain had been making clearing it a near impossible task. Luckily for me just as we arrived a new bigger digger had been acquired and within a couple of hours it had bulldozed and flattened a path for the long queue of waiting and impatient vehicles to cross. Never a dull moment in the jungle, especially in the rainy season! Good thing the group is arriving in the dry season, we shouldn’t have to face any of these obstacles!