Pilcopata

Small, very small town between Cusco and Manu National Park. I stayed there for a few days once and loved it.

Cusco - Manu National Park area

The Cloud Forest

I left Cusco in a local bus and we headed off toward Pisac at the head of the Scared Valley, then it was off the tar seal and into the hills. We passed through Paucartambo, stopping briefly, then back into the hills we wound up to Tres Cruces where it began to get very cold as we decended from the pass we were still above clouds and then into the Cloud Forest. The road was narrow and windy, fortunately not much traffic, as whenever we met another vehicle one of us had to back up until we found a space wide enough to pass. The road hugged the cliff face and waterfalls fell overhead. The whole experience was quite wonderful.

“If you want to face death on the side of a forested cliff in the middle of the night (and possible  [sic] live to tell the tale), then catch the night bus from Pilcopata to Cusco.” Quote from another blog about the road conditions.

 

The Amazon Lodge - 5 Stars when compared to the others

Eventually we found ourselves on the flat and rumbled on to Pilcopata. The trip takes nine hours.

Pilcopata boasted  four hospedajes (hostels), I chose one for my stay euphemistically called The Amazon Lodge, since we were along way from the Amazon proper, but within the bounds of Amazonia. The Vilcanota River that we crossed at Pisac and flows past Machu Picchu is the furtherest reach of waters that flow eventually into the Amazon River. The head waters of the Vilcanota are behind Cusco in La Raya Pass where the Puno-Cusco train runs.

Looking right -the market

I quickly learned just how small Pilcopata was. Standing in front of the hospedaje, I look left and saw the Police station, looking right was the local market; I had just completed a ‘city tour’.

Kids playing on the bridge over the tributary

There were some back streets with very humble dwellings and two roads out. One went across a tributary to the Alto Madre de Dios that flowed on to Manu, the other crossed the Alto Madre de Dios and off to Atalaya and Shintuya another 50kms and the end of the road where you could get boats to the lodges at Boca Manu in the National Park.

The old and the new bridges over the Alto Madre de Dios River

Behind the market were both the old and new bridges over the Alto Madre de Dios.

I’ll leave it up to you to decide which bridge is which.

The days I spent there were very peaceful. Not a lot happens in Pilcopata.

I did a day trek of nine hours to visit one of the local Indian tribes. The Quero were very warm and I was made welcome. They were the last three dozen left of the tribe. Many of the younger members had gone to school in Cusco and never returned, preferring the city life.

Believe it, or not, that truck was still driven. Don't ask me how.

A few days later I did another trek, 15 hours to another tribe, the Huacari, in the other direction. Not as fruitful as the first trek, but far more dangerous. On the return trip it began to rain; and it rained like it can only do in the rainforest. Nothing to do but keep walking. The rivers flooded, there were nine to cross, and one presented a real danger; the current was far too strong to attempt. I had to fight my way through primary forest until I found a fallen tree that spanned the river and crawl across on that.

A couple of days to recuperate, and I went back to Cusco. I had to go back to work.

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