Puerto Maldonado

Beez Neez now Chy Whella
Big Bear and Pepe Millard
Sun 5 Sep 2010 22:53
Puerto Maldonado



Peru, South America and Lima, capital of Peru


We left Beez Neez at 10:30 on the 3rd of September, met by one of Jesse James drivers. Anne and Alan (Freya of Clyde) already safely aboard for the hour or so journey to Port of Spain Airport. We checked in, had some lunch and boarded American Airlines Flight 1656 for the six hour trip to Miami. We were met by the La Quinta East minibus for the short journey to the hotel. Supper was at an Irish bar next door and very soon to bed as we had to be up at 4:15 for the five o'clock bus. Next morning, Saturday the 4th, on the transfer bus once more to fly Avianca to Bogota in Colombia and from there on to Lima. Possibly the best airplane seats I have ever sat in. Foot rests, ear plugs and a good choice of films. We were met at the airport by a Perugate representative and transferred to our hotel for the night in Miraflores about twenty minutes away. Checked in to the Ferre Hotel, a quick wash and a meeting with Erica (Perugate) who gave Anne all the vouchers for our forthcoming At-Venture. We had supper in the hotel of mushroom soup washed down with the local cocktail Pisco Sour and a test run of Peruvian lager - very drinkable. Alan was brave enough to try the local fish dish, he was a little disappointed when it turned out to be tasty but a cold dish. We get to explore Lima later on in our trip.






Our merry group got up at five, washed, toasted, tead, Lariam-ed (our day for the once weekly anti-malarial pill) and transferred at six to Lima Airport. Although it was Sunday (the 5th) the roads were crowded and the buses full of locals, we were dropped at Internal Flights. We checked in, looked at a few shops, had tea and 'Dunkin Donut', queued to pay our twenty Soles (pronounced so-les) about five pounds each departure tax and queued to get through security. My dungaree braces set the machine off, as did the safety pin on Bears knee bandage, a quick once over with a rubber-gloved wand wielder and off we went to gate ten. We flew over some amazing scenery to Cusco, an hour away where we dropped several passengers and picked up a few more for our half an hour flight to Puerto Maldonado. 





On the flight from Cusco to Puerto Maldonado we got our first glimpse of the Amazon Jungle. At the airport I found a list of lodges and..........




......... a map of the river. We are at number 2 - left map to the left of the picture above where it says Control Quadaparques, just left of the arrow marker




Met by a placard waver, we were soon on the bus headed for the Masai Lodge a twenty minute journey, chance to look at the city as we drove through. Now it was all real, the excitement of new places after our journey. The first thing we saw was a Toot-toot. I wanted a shot of this great fence when a laden car leapt into view, a load of loads of mattresses tied to the top.




Junction in the town centre


Puerto Maldonado is a city in Southeastern Peru in the Amazon Forest thirty four miles west of the Bolivian border on the confluence of the Tambopata and Madre de Dios River, a tributary of the Amazon River. It is the capital of the Madre de Dios Region. Nearby are the Manú National Park, Tambopata National Reserve and Bahuaja-Sonene National Park. These are some of the most pristine primary rain forests in the world, which include several oxbow lakes and clay licks, where hundreds of birds including macaws feed on clay. Oh the anticipation and excitement of seeing that.



Courts Furniture shop, local style


History: In 1901, the Peruvian Government created a committee to explore the nation's rainforest. Don Juan Villalta led an expedition along the Tambopata River, departing from Sandia. Villata founded Puerto Maldonado on the 10th of July 1902 as a station where the Tambopata met the Madre de Dios. He named the port after Faustino Maldonado, of Tarapoto, who had explored the Madre de Dios in 1861 and drowned in the rapids of the Mamoré River. The Madre de Dios region was created by law on the 26th of December 1912 with Puerto Maldonado as its capital. The city was formally recognised in 1985.

Climate: Puerto Maldonado is in the tropical Amazon Basin. The climate is hot and humid at all times. The average annual temperature is 26 °C with the months of August and September being the hottest. Annual rainfall exceeds three foot four inches. The wet season is from October to April. The main part of the town is located on a slightly elevated area that does not normally flood in the wet season. Road travel often becomes impossible during this time. A low season occurs between June and August. We arrived in the relative cool, our guide told us that for the previous four days the temperature had been forty degrees centigrade. A common phenomenon known locally as a "surazo" or "friaje" occurs when polar winds blow in from the mountainous south. The temperature will drop to as low as 8 °C for several days, thermals at the ready.



Wasai Lodge and Tourist Information Office


Industry: The chief industries in Puerto Maldonado are logging, gold dredging, Brazil nut collecting, boat building and eco-tourism. The area is virtually logged out; only one mill remains. Rubber collection is long gone. Recent legislation in the European Union has put hundreds of Brazil nut collectors out of work together with the associated local factory. Small amounts of gold are collected from the river, mostly by small teams of men with hand tools. Tourism and related boat construction are currently the major sources of income. There are several tourist eco-lodges around Puerto Maldonado and in the reserves. Our guide told us that many folk from the mountain villages and hillsides had come down to the city “to get better yobs”.

Infrastructure: A ferry crosses the river, linking the main road from Cuzco to the towns of San Lorenzo, Iberia and Iñapari. The river ferry is soon to be replaced by a bridge, well so far it has been in construction for five years, but, for the present, is a busy hive of activity. As the cost of gasoline is very high in this area, the main mode of transportation among locals is by motorcycle and Toot-Toot (covered motorbike with carriage - locals here call them Took-Took, I first met them in Nepal). Puerto Maldonado is served by the Padre Aldamiz International Airport. We were met and left by minibus for the twenty minute ride to Wasai Lodge.




The bridge construction seen from our balcony


Interoceanic Highway: or Trans-oceanic highway, now under construction, is intended to link the river ports of Brazil with the Pacific coast ports of Peru. The highway is slated to pass through Puerto Maldonado, crossing the Rio Madre de Dios on a two thousand, three hundred and seventy foot viaduct, the President Guillermo Billinghurst Bridge. The bridge, like the highway, had been proposed decades ago. Construction began under the administration of Alejandro Toledo but has stalled due to financial problems, We saw workers "adjusting things", security guards behind the fenced off area this side of the river and we think some cables being added, the delays have contributed to some structural deficiencies which hopefully have been put right.