Friday, June 21, 2013

Trip Tips: Hidden mountain-jungle gem Quillabamba

A few months ago, a friend and I had planned to take a short weekend trip. The destination we'd planned didn't work out since we didn't bring our passports, so we brainstormed other options. Spur of the moment, we hopped onto a van to Quillabamba, the closest jungle city to Cusco. The van was about 35soles.

At the highest point of the mountains, it was very eery as the fog and cold encircled us. My mom would describe this type of fog as ''thick as split pea soup''. The descent was a dramatic change in climate....
              From split pea soup
                                                                     lush, tropical mountain-jungle.

We finally arrived the city of Quillabamba, after a 6 hour trip (1 hour because the road was closed for construction). I noticed the humidity and huge variety of fruits being sold. We found a hotel that was central and decently priced. Then we wandered around the town.
One thing I immediately noticed and loved was how green it was. Especially, parks and plaza were full of plants and flowers. Also, the abundance of fruits growing. We came to the conclusion that people wouldn't go hungry living in the jungle.

Lotssss of bananas!
The next day we went to explore. We heard there were piscinas (pools) and waterfalls so we headed out of the town to find them. After about 45 minutes of really bumpy roads, we got off where the waterfalls were. A local man pointed us in the direction of the free non-touristy ones. They were breathtaking (and way too cold to go in).

The hidden waterfall we were pointed toward, Huaynapata

After we took pictures and found cool bugs and plants, we met a woman who had a store and lived there. She offered us coffee, bananas, and avocados. Her 'yard' was full of these and she offered to take what we wanted. Across the road, we invested in coconuts and cacao pods.
Stopping for some snacks :)

Then we headed to the little town of Echarate, where we were told the piscinas were.  
Entering Echarate from the backside.

We walked and walked, and met a warm man and his son who were setting out cacao to dry. By the time we got to the top of the hill, we were glad to arrive at the pool. It turned out to be like a community pool and there were lots of families there. Echarate was a nice little town. We found a delicious little restaurant too.

Cacao drying

Coca leaves, sponge-like thing from tree, honey, coffee, pure chocolate
After this short 2 day 
adventure, we stoked up on a few essentials from the jungle and headed back to Cusco. 

>>>The essentials >>>

It was a lovely little trip with good food, nice and helpful people, and lots of beautiful nature. (The only downside was that the mosquitoes think I'm their friend hehe) 

Have you been to a jungle? What's your favorite thing?

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