Last month’s renovations were not the only changes that have been taking place at Pirwa Colonial Backpackers in Cusco.
- The Colonial Bar will now be open all day long. So while you can just relax in the daytime while checking your emails and updating your travel blog, you can also order up snacks or drinks if you’d like.
- Speaking of the bar, the drink list now includes a greater variety of beers and cocktails, so while Peruvian classics like Pisco Sours, Chilcanos de Pisco, y Cusqueño beer are always staples, there’ll now be more options for those of you who want a more international.
- We have largely extended menus for optional additions to the included continental breakfast- those of you with an appetite can order up everything from banana smoothies, panoply of hot breakfast sandwiches, French toasts, huevos rancheros and every other egg dish one can think of.
We hope that the increased rooming options created by the renovations, more private bathrooms, more bar and food offerings, and increased serving hours will mean more comfort and better service for all of our guests and friends. Thanks to all of you who’ve been a part of the Pirwa family over the years and whose feedback and support has helped us hone our services!
We’re currently looking for 4 helpers for Pirwa Colonial Backpackers, in the area of bar / food / events in the evenings (6pm-12am, 7pm-1am…something in that neighborhood). If you can pour drinks and are planning on spending at least a week in Cusco, we hope you’ll come lend a hand! Basically, if you work 7 days, you get lodging for an additional 3 days to accomodate your excursions.
In return, you get a free bed in one of the shared dorms, breakfast, and a little money for lunch. If you’re interested, please send us your info and travel plans to email@example.com. We hope to hear from you!!
in Cusco, has successfully undergone renovations in various rooms, to provide more private ensuite rooms alongside a variety of dormitories.
We’re now fully operational again, and ready to meet new friends and guests from around the world.
The interior patios and the fully stocked TV & movie lounge remain unchanged, and at the moment we’ve only one more portion to complete: the 24hr guest kitchen.
Pirwa Colonial’s Bar continues to boast a fast food stand, 2 for 1 cocktails during our “Happy Hour Every Hour”, and activities from yesterday’s Patriotic Party (where guests donned the colors of their respective countries) to today’s BBQ. Table games and instruments are always available, not to mention a pool table and ping pong table!
Travelers who enter and exit Peru by land generally do so vía Puno in the Peruvian highlands, at the edge of the Peruvian side of Lake Titicaca. Far from being a mere wayside stop, however, it’s a destination for thousands of travelers. Its greatest attractions are the islands of Lake Titicaca, especially the storied Floating Islands of Uros, man-made reed islands which are home to the Aymara-speaking Uros people, believed to be the oldest living culture of the Americas. Travelers often make it a point to visit one of the the traditional Quechua-speaking islands as well, either Taquile or Amantani, both of which have pre-Incan and Incan temples and terracing. They’re reknowned for their knitting and textile arts, which they’ve practiced for thousands of years; Taquile’s colorful textiles were even declared “Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity” by UNESCO.
When to go…
If you’re wondering when will be the best times to go, there are some unique festivals which take place in January/February and November. both One of Peru’s, and South America’s, most spectacular festivals is the Virgin of Candelaria, where for two weeks from late January through early February, thousands of vibrantly costumed dancers and musicians demonstrate why Puno is considered the country’s folkloric capital.
Each November, the devil leads his own parade and the legendary founder of the Inca Empire, Manco Cápac, rises anew from the waters of Lake Titicaca during the colorful Diablada Festival. Both festivals are marked by concerts, food fairs, fireworks, and many dances.
How to Get There…
Unfortunately for those who prefer to travel by plane, Puno doesn’t actually have an airport- it’s served by the Inca Manco Capac Airport in Juliaca, about an hour outside of town. There is public transport available for those heading towards Puno, however. Many choose to go by bus (and for those of you arriving between 7am and 7pm, Pirwa Puno Backpackers can often arrange to pick you up from the bus terminal or individual stations for free!). If you’re planning on traveling by bus from Cusco to Puno or vice-versa, look into the Sun Route for guided stops along the way. Another option is to travel by train, the priciest choice and one not often chosen by the backpacker set, but if you’re interested, the Cusco-to-Puno route by rail is actually one of the America’s most famous train journeys.
Where to Stay…
Pirwa Puno Backpackers is a cozy budget hostel located just a 15 minute walk from Lake Titicaca Harbor (close to Puno’s main street Calle Independencia Lima, and only a couple blocks from the main square). It offers a variety of shared dorms and private rooms, all with comfortable beds and private bathrooms. Communal areas include the TV and Movie Lounge, Guest Kitchen, Breakfast Room, and Patio. Our local travel expert, Margot, can help arrange all manner of excursions, including visits to the Floating Islands of Uros or transport to Copacabana. While you’re out exploring the Folkloric Capital of Peru, your belongings will be safe thanks to the security lockers in the dorm rooms, luggage storage room, and a warm reception staff that’s on hand 24 hours. One big change we’ve had recently is the purchase of additional heating units for those of you anxious about the cold of the Peruvian highlands. We hope that you’ll include us in your Peruvian adventures!
For more detailed tips and recommendations regarding Puno’s climate, nightlife, food, etc, check out our website’s Puno Tips page.
The Bolivian Amazon is becoming steadily more popular, especially among budget travelers, as it offers the diversity of the Brazilian Amazon at a fraction of the price. Simply put, it’s a more affordable and less crowded way to see the Amazon. First, one must get to Rurrenaque, which is accessible from La Paz by a bumpy but cheap 20 hour bus ride or a more expensive but scenic 35 minute flight over the high plains and snowy Andean peaks and into the tropics. (Flights cost approximately US$75 and are generally on 18-seater planes). As the gateway town into the tropics, Rurrenabaque is relaxed and touristy (despite its lack of an ATM). Happily, there is no risk of malaria in the jungle around Rurrenabaque (another advantage over the standard Brazilian trips. Once a traveler arrives in Rurrenabaque, he or she has two choices: into the Pampas, or into the Jungle.
Pampas vs Jungle
Why Choose the Pampas?…
To get to the Pampas, the tropical wetland savannah on the edge of the Bolivian Amazon, one takes a bumpy DIRECTIONS three hour jeep ride to Santa Rosa, then very popular three hour motorized canoe ride along the river to your riverside lodge. This first canoe trip is often cited as the trip highlight thanks to a wide cast of birds such as egrets, herons, hoatzin, and kingfishers, and wildlife such as alligators, capybara, tortoises, pink dolphins and squirrel monkeys. The advantages to a Pampas tour are that it’s cheaper than a jungle tour (three times cheaper on average), and that one sees more abundant wildlife, as they gather by the riverside and as there are less trees and vegetation to block views.
Why Choose the Jungle?…
To get to the jungle, one takes a three hour motorized canoe ride DIRECTIONS and then a 40 minute walk through the jungle. Jungle tours are considered the “classic” Amazon experience, so they remain popular despite being about three times more expensive than Pampas tours. There are numerous advantages to the jungle tours: First, they penetrate to a more densely vegetated area. Because the Jungle Eco-lodges are located more in the jungle interior, they more privacy and less people, for a more tranquil, “into the Amazon” feel. The specialists involved in these sorts of tours are more conservation-minded as well as more knowledgeable about vegetation, animals, and medicinal plants. There is also a bit more variety in activities, which depending on the tour you choose tend to include canoe trips, treks and hikes, piranha fishing, traditional handicrafts, swimming with the famous pink dolphins of the Amazonas, and visits to indigenous communities.
For the cash- or time-strapped, the Pampas tours deliver, but for the immersion- or conservation-minded, the jungle tours win out.
Bolivian Amazon Travel Tips
- Check & Re-Check Conditions & Flight Schedules, as both bus and air trips can be easily derailed and delayed during flood-prone rainy season.
- Encourage Best Practices by choosing one with well-paid staff year round, conservation efforts. Keep your expectations/demands reasonable… it is not proper to touch animals no matter how much you want that anaconda around neck photo, and asking for guarantees of spotting extremely rare animals such as jaguars only encourages the trapping and abuse of such animals- that is the price of a guarantee.
- Bring Your Own Snacks: Keep in mind that treks can be tiring and appetite-inducing, and that across the board, even with the best and most expensive operators, travelers frequently mention that they wish more food was served. Beers and drinks are generally available for purchase (and bottles of water are always provided free on the first day and then refilled) in the eco-lodges, as well as perhaps snacks, but its better and cheaper to be prepared.
- Aim For the Dry Season: Increase comfort, Avoid canoing and hiking trip cancellations, and see more animals by visiting during the May to October dry season if at all possible. Wildlife gathers by the rivers during the dry season, but remains dispersed by the puddles and little lakes during the wet season, which only attracts more mosquitoes.
- Bring Cash for drinks, snacks, souvenirs, and emergencies- remember, Rurrenabaque does not have an ATM.
- Bring a Flashlight, as generators provide electricity only until a certain time of night, generally around 10pm.
- Don’t Skimp on Repellent: While the lodges themselves are often generously equipped with mosquito netting, insect repellent will make a big difference to your comfort level, especially during jungle tours.
As always, the experienced specialists at Pirwa Travel Service can help you with any aspect of your trip. From helping you decide what type of jungle trip is right for you, from Madidi National Park in Bolivia to Puerto Maldonado in Peru, to helping you arrange tours, entrances, and guided visits. Contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org and they’ll be happy to help!