Student Blogs & Vlogs | College Study Abroad Programs, IFSA-Butler

The trips keep a comin’! A weekend in the Selva Central

As I’m sure y’all have noticed, being in Perú has afforded me the opportunity to feed my travel bug a bit. Recently, I took an impromptu journey to the Selva Central (the Jungle, in gringo terms.) The list of destinations included La Merced, Oxapampa, and the tiny German enclave of Pozuzo (yes you heard me right…a city of blondes {well, mostly anyway}, smack-dab in the middle of Perú).

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An 8 hour bus ride delivered our group from the grey, city streets of Lima to a green jungle haven in the province of Junín.Upon our arrival in the city of La Merced, we boarded a colectivo and continued our journey eastward for another 2 hours to the town of Oxapampa. Armed with merely a few suggestions of places to visit from a local friend, we were really unsure of where to begin. I think it’s appropriate to note here that Oxapampa and the Selva Central are rather off-the-beaten-path destinations. They cater more to internal tourist activity and, thus, don’t see much tourist traffic from extranjeros like ourselves.Luckily, however, we managed to stumble into a tiny travel agency where we met Jorge (who actually had no real affiliation with the agency and just happened to be in the right place at the right time.) Although we typically grow up learning to distance ourselves from strangers who offer us things that seem to be too good to be true, we figured we didn’t have much to lose. Jorge, a local Oxapampan with dreams of building his own “jungle guide” business, offered us a two-day camping expedition through the Selva Central at an unbeatable price. Normally, again, it would seem strange to wander off into the jungle with a random man to whom you are giving all of your money; but this is Perú, and, well, they just do things differently. Informal. Relaxed. Chill. What’s not to love?

Anyhow, I digress. The first day of our two-day expedition began with a trek to the Catarata El Tigre (a breathtaking waterfall just outside of town.) Along the way, we passed through coffee and granadilla farms, which you can see pictured below. Granadilla, when ripe, kind of look like oranges filled with little black fish eggs. Not necessarily the most tasty sounding image, but oooh let me tell you, they are magnificent…better than pomegranates and perfectly refreshing after after a nice hike!

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Granadilla

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Inside

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Not only did we get to see the waterfall, Jorge led us right INTO the waterfall. More than anything, this made the trip worth it. Feeling the power of a seemingly endless flow of crystal clear water dump onto you from above (although in all reality a bit painful) is both refreshing and inspiring.

 

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Upon returning from the waterfall, we headed into town to collect supplies for the dinner we would be cooking that night at the camp site (pasta with hotdogs…about as good as it sounds…the only saving grace was the making of graham cracker-less s’mores. Peruvians aren’t big on graham crackers apparently.) Supplies in hand, we embarked for Yanachaga-Chemillén National Park…another 2 hour drive across some slippery terrain, including several roads that had essentially turned into rivers due to excessive rain (it was the rainforest after all…however, looking back on it, I’m not sure how we managed to make it in one piece in an ancient combi, which it’s safe to say did not have 4-wheel drive.) Regardless, we eventually made it, set up camp and spent the following morning hiking through the jungle. Although we didn’t happen to see much by way of wildlife (it rained the entire morning), we saw a few species of orchid, some red squirrels, and the national bird of peru: the Andean Cock-of-the-Rock.

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The afternoon was reserved for the trip to Pozuzo: a rainforest haven for the descendants of 19th century German and Austrian immigrants to Perú. Although our stay lasted only a few hours (enough time to meander about, take a tour of the local founder’s museum, and have some wiener schnitzel and strudel with the living descendants and mayor of the town: Señor Egg…yes, that really was his name), many of the Peruvian tourists seemed to think that I was a local…On more than one occasion I was the subject of a paparazzi-like frenzy of clandestine photography. Quite interesting.

A slew of combi and bus rides, totaling more than 18 hours, finally brought us back to Lima. A successful weekend trip, it was. For now, I have to finish up some studying for finals…only two weeks left in Perú! I can’t believe how quickly the time has gone! At any rate, stay tuned for the next post about my recent travels to Arequipa, Colca Canyon, Puno and Lake Titicacca which should surface in the next few days. Later y’all!

 

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