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The situation in February 2003.

From Cusco to Puerto Maldonado via Shintuya and back via Quincemil


879 km


10624 m



Main difficulty

Bad road

The complete circuit can not be done by road. From Shintuya to Laberinto the only way of transport is by boat (=dug out canoe). We did this trip in the middle of the rain season and had every night rain and sometimes also during the day. In the lowlands this is refreshing but in the mountains this is really cold. Some rivers can become acrossable after a night of heavy rain, but they will be low enough after some days waiting again. The altitude data can be different from shown on maps, because the altitudes are measured values. The data is very rough, because we had very unstable weather and no points (except Quincemil, I lowered my measured value with 100 meters) to calibrate the altitude meter. The altitude of Cusco differs 199 meter from start to finish!?

Day 1
From Cusco (3444m) the road climbs along the "nearby ruines" over a pass of 3719 meter paved to Pisac (2977m), 34.9km away in the Urubamba valley. 

Day 2
After 7 km the paved road continues to the Pisac ruines and a dirt road branch of to the right. The road goes through several village before it climbs to the pass (4065m) at 19.9 km from the turnoff. The road descends and becomes flat after the first group of houses before it reaches the village of Colquepata (3593m) after 23.6 km. There is no hostal here, but behind the market are some rooms for rent.

Day 3/4/5
The road continues downhill for 28 km to Paucartambo (2877m) and continues along the river to a splitting of the road 6 km from the village (2865m). The right road starts the gradually climb to the second pass (3470m) and reaches it after 20 km. Here is the turn of to the viewing point of Tres Cruses. The road now starts to descend to Pillcopata (674m) for 83.2 km and then flattens out for the 11 km to Atalaya. Just after Atalaya is a big river crossing. On the other side the road continues for 300 meters before it crosses the second large branch of the same river. It is 7 km before the next big river crossing turns up. After the river lays Salvation, with has a hostal and internet. It is 44 km more to the village of Shintuya, with a big river crossing somewhere in the middle. There is no hostal in Shintuya (520m). 

Note: February 2003, PeruDiscovery
The road to Tres Cruses is 14 km long and a little bit downhill. You have to backtrack the road you came, because there is no other road out of Tres Cruses.

Day 6/7/8
From here the transport goes by boat over the rio Madre de Dios. It takes 3 days if you don't have to wait for a boat. Boats only go when there is a cargo from a truck. Half an hour before Boca Manu lays Diamante. This is a native village and transport away from there can become difficult. In Boca Manu (412m) is a hostal/lodge for 10 dollar or 15 sol pp (for locals or if you ask). From here transport is more difficult, while you have to wait for a local to go to Colorado. In Colorado are several hostals and a road starts and will meet the Puerto Maldonado-Cusco road somewhere near Santa Rosa. From Colorado a passenger boat goes to Laberinto but stop sometimes for the night in San Juan (350m) 2 hours down the river. In San Juan is a hostal. 

The boat times and prices:
Shintuya-Boca Manu: 3 hours, 20 sol pp 
Boca Manu-Colorado: 5.5 hours, 20 sol pp 
Colorado-Laberinto: 7.5 hours, 45 sol pp 
bike: 5 sol per trip (we never paid this, although they asked for it on the passengers boat)

Day 9
If the boat from San Juan leaves early (4.00h) it is possible to make it the same day from Laberinto to Puerto Maldonado (293m). A 6 km trip to the main road and then 48 km along the main road of which the last 12 km are paved.

Day 10/11 
The first 48 km are going back over the same road to the turnoff to Laberinto. The road becomes hopeless for cyclist with big stones and gravel and after 148 km it reaches the village of Santa Rosa (415m). There are 2 hostals here. 

Day 12/13
Just after Santa Rosa the road starts to climb for 9.2 km to 520m and descends to the rio Inambari were it flats out after 5.5 km. It goes up and down now to Mazuke (438m). Here are several hostals. 14.1 km further along the road lays Lorromayo (460m). After the first bridge are several houses and after the second bridge is the village it self. The village has a hostal, but you are better of camping near the first houses. Another 26.2 km of climbing and descending are left to San Lorenzo (541m), with a hostal.  

Day 14
The road continues with its up and down for 19km before it starts to climb for 6.5 km to 795m high. Then is descends to the village of Quincemill (755m) in 6.5 km. Quincemill the midpoint of the way to Cusco has 2 hostals.

Day 15/16
From Quincemill the road starts to climb and the lowlands are left behind. After 67.3 , from which the last 6.5 km are a steep zig-zag,the little village of Baņo (2827m) is reached, were is a thermal bath and a hostal. Marcapata (2916m) is 1.5 km of more climbing away with also a hostal.

Day 17/18
The road keeps climbing for 45.5 km to the pass at 4482m high. The 35.9 km downhill goes to Tinque (3558m) with a hostal and to Ocongate (3350m) 8.8 km more down the road, with several hostals.

Day 19
After Ocongate the road continues for 2.4 km to the start (3300m) of the next climb. The road climbs in 12.1 km to the top (3712m) and drops then down for 8.1 km to 3432m. Now some climbs and some desends follow for the next 14.1 km to the village of Ccatcca (3484m), a little village with no hostal and an unspeakable name.

Day 20
From Ccatcca the road starts to climb for 14.8 km to the last pass (3941m) and stays for 1.8 km on that hight before it drops down with a very stone surface for 26.5 km to the paved road to Urcos (3010m), which is 3 km further down the road. Several hostals and civilization again.

Day 21
The last 50 km are over the paved main road to Cusco. The road climb a little bit after Urcos and then gradually descends to the Urubamba river again, before it climbs over another low hill. It descends and gradually climbs to Cusco (3245m). Which lays now 199 meter lower then we left!?.


Tips and tricks
-Wear shoes which can be get wet or don't bother about wet shoes from Atalaya to Shintuya and from Santa Rosa to Marcapata. There are many river crossings and in the lowlands your shoes will dry fast.

-We traveled in the rain season and had bad luck with boats, in total we waited for 6 days. But the rivers were running fast and the journey was a lot shorter than in the dry season.

-We spend some days in the Mejia lodge at the Sandoval lake. Very basic but cheap and a great place to see a lot of wildlife:
Tambopata park entrance = 10 sol for 3 days (to be paid in Puerto Maldonado)
boat = 70 sol for several people return trip (depending on the gasoline price)
night = 12.5 sol pp
breakfast = 5 sol pp
lunch = 7 sol pp
dinner = 7 sol pp


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This page was last updated on Friday July 29, 2011