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Cusco - Manu - Arequipa - Ica

  • Submitted by: Julia Crislip
  • Website: None Available
  • Submission Date: 04th Feb 2005

We arrived in Cusco and set off immediately for Manu to spend 4 nights and 3 days at Amazonia Lodge, a family run hotel in the Cultural Zone. I had been in contact with Amazonia Lodge since April asking questions and gathering information via e-mail. My contact was Ramiro Yábar. It was arranged that Ramiro would pick us up at the Cusco airport and drive us to Manu by Land Rover (cost: $500 round trip for up to 5 passengers). It’s a 10-12 hour trip over rough road to Atalaya where we crossed the river to Amazonia Lodge.

We arrived after dark, and as we drove up the verandah of the main lodge and the pathways were lit with kerosene lanterns. What a sight! The lodge was beautiful and even more so after such a long drive. We showered, then went to the dinning room for some dinner before heading off to bed for a well earned rest. In the morning we woke to the sounds of the birds, only to discover that the hotel was much more luxurious that we had anticipated. The rooms were large with screens in all the windows. There was a wonderful large porch to sit on in the afternoons and the food was delicious. The cost was $45 per person per night including all meals, and someone walking with us on the trails all the time.

Amazonia Lodge is a private reserve (400 hectares) of tropical lowland rainforest and lower mountain rainforest, between 500 meters and 900 meters above sea level. The reserve has 527 species of birds, 8 different species of monkeys, mammals like peccaris, capybaras etc., bromelians, orchids, butterflies etc

We took hikes in the early morning before the heat became unbearable and again in the late afternoon and even after dark. Over the three days that we were there we saw four types of monkeys (woolly, squirrel, saddleback tamarins and night monkeys), cayman, iguana, all kinds of birds including a rare long tailed pootos, and magnificent variety of butterflies. It was a wonderfully peaceful few days and a very special experience.

The Yábar family went out of their way to make us feel welcome including baking a birthday cake for one of our party and even decorating the dining room with balloons. I highly recommend a visit to their lovely home.
Amazonia Lodge (Cusco office) Tel/Fax: 84-231370
While in Cusco we stayed in a new hostal on Pasaje España, Hostal Topacio. It was scrupulously clean, quiet and had a very good supply of hot water (24 hours a day). The manager, Victor, was extremely helpful in arranging for a taxi to the airport etc. The cost for a double was $30/triple $35 which included breakfast. Hostal Topacio: Tel/Fax: 84-224152

From Arequipa we took a side trip to Colca Canyon, which was well worth the trip. We went by mini van (cost $28 per person including transportation, 1 night’s hotel and continental breakfast). The 5 hour drive is interesting and we spotted a herd of wild vincuñas, lots of alpacas and llamas. When we arrived in Chivay we went to the natural hot mineral springs. The water was wonderfully hot and seemed clean. The pools were larger than those at Aguas Caliente, but they were enclosed on all four sides. The atmosphere would be much better if the view of the beautiful mountains were visible.

In the morning we got up early to drive to the canyon stopping in Yanque to see a beautiful old church. The Mirador Cruz del Condor is a rather touristy spot with a great view but we did see several Condor’s fly overhead before returning to Arequipa.

Another side trip was to Ica via overnight bus (Ormeño Bus line), a 12 hour trip. From Ica we toured Las Balletas Islands by boat (Hotel Paracas tour). The two hour tour takes you all around the islands where it was easy to see sea lions, pelicans, red footed booby, guano and other birds. We also managed to see penguins. However our driver didn’t speak any English, so those of us who spoke some Spanish had to try and translate for the others. We did not see the flamencos mentioned in your guide.

We spent the night at Hotel Austria in Ica. The hotel was clean, but empty. However it had the best shower we had in Peru, both in abundance of hot water and pressure. It was so good that we each had a shower in the evening and another in the morning. What luxury! We decided to spurge and have our meals across the street at Las Dunas, a luxury resort. The food there was top notch and pricey, but after an overnight bus ride we were feeling in the mood to splurge.

While in Ica we went to the Museo Regional de Ica as suggested by your guidebook. The museum is not very large, but it has some examples of Paracas style ceramics and textiles and several mummies. It’s sad to say, but Las Dunas hotel had a better display of ceramics, and the best piece of Paracas manta I’ve ever seen is in the Brooklyn Museum of Art.

The next morning we went to Nazca by collectivo (7 soles per person) and took a flight over the Nazca lines on Aero Condor (cost $55 per person). In total we saw about 16 figures. The lines are amazing, but the day after our flight two small planes collided mid-air and killed 10 people.

Note: In Arequipa we were starting to run low on cash. I tried to cash a personal check at American Express, but that cardholder service is only offered in Cusco and Lima. My traveling companion tried to use her bank card at numerous bank machines, but they only accept the “Plus” or VISA system. In the end the travel agent that was booking our Ica trip let me pay with a personal check and even let me write it for more that the cost of the trip in order to get some additional cash. Amazing since they were not able to accept a credit card for payment of the trip!

All in all a very memorable trip! I highly recommend Peru.

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