Hidden in the Cusco jungle is this gift of nature "El Pongo de Mainique", located on the natural border of the districts of Echarati and Megantoni - Province of La Convención - Cusco.
It is a geological fault 2 km long and 45 m wide, without a doubt an excellent place to visit.
The Mainique pongo is located in the water gap of the Urubamba river. In the Quechua word, the word Pongo would have apparently undergone variations, its original word being "punku" which means door or entrance to a new horizon, in this case.
Pongo de Mainique part of the National Sanctuary of Megantoni
The Mainique pongo was formed over time, by the passing of the waters of the upper Urubamba river, causing erosion between the rocks, managing to open a way to flow into the area called lower Urubamba.
The famous Pongo de Mainique has a width of approximately 45 meters, according to the testimony of some people who came to this wonderful place, they mention that this place is a gift of nature.
But, where do the waters of this place come from? The water of this place is born from the snow-capped mountains near Cusco and irrigates the entire Sacred Valley, its river is 3 kilometers long and its elevation is approximately 450 meters.
And, that is not all regarding the Pongo de Mainique, as it becomes part of the Megantoni National Sanctuary, which is located in the district of Echarate in La Convención-Cusco. The main objective of this National Sanctuary is to keep intact the forests and water sources of the Timpia and Ticumpinia rivers, in addition to giving value to biological cultures such as the Pongo de Mainique, a sacred place for the Machiguenga people.
From the city of Quillabamba you must take a vehicle in the direction of the Saniriato CP (approximately 5 hours of travel) when you arrive at this place you will have to take a boat in the direction of the Mainique pongo.
Currently there are several transport companies that offer you the transport service to the CP of Saniriato and also the boat service with a tour of the Maenique pongo and the Yoyato river.
Hiring a tourism agency or local guide is one of the best alternatives to get to know this place since they will take care of the permits and logistical coordination to get to the place, if you do it in a private way it will be a bit complicated since these places do not have mobile lines or permanent established services (food, lodging, etc.
According to myths and legends regarding the importance of the Pongo de Mainique for the Machiguengas (ethnic group that inhabits portions of the Peruvian Amazon), it is in this place that their culture originated, representing the historical link between the Andean world and the Amazonian. That is why for the Machiguengas the Pongo de Mainique is very important.
If you are one of the adventurous people, Inkayni Peru Tours is sure that during your trip you will fully enjoy getting to know this beautiful and fascinating place, because this place is one of the few that still has its intact vegetation and this helps to better connect with nature, you will also be able to perceive the connection between the puna and the low jungle.
Other wonders that you will be able to observe on your trip to Pongo de Mainique will be the diversity of wildlife such as:
The military macaw is a species belonging to the order psittacidae of the parrot family of South America. The military macaw has a pointed and long tail with reddish-brown feathers with blue tips in the lower area. Its wings are olive-yellow in color and a large part of its body is made up of green feathers, hence the name Military Macaw or Green Macaw.
Unfortunately, as a result of people's bad habits, these birds are in danger of extinction.
Also called rupicola peruviana, it is the national bird of Peru. Due to its incomparable plumage and for many individual and collective manifestations.
The Andean bear, spectacled bear or "Ukumari" in Quechua, is a unique species in the world that lives in South America and Peru boasts the largest number of specimens with around 5,750 individuals. However, this plantigrade faces threats to its survival.
The black monkey, in color from light brown to black and has a patch of white fur on its head, with dark-toned cheeks. Its hands, feet, and tail are black or dark brown. Females prefer the dominant male; however, other males have opportunities to mate when the leader is not present.
The body of the maquisapa is covered in black, brown or chestnut fur, although it is lighter on the underparts. The eyes are bordered by a white ring.
Another question that passengers often ask is where will we sleep? I tell you that the only place where you can rest is in the accommodation in this area, which is the Machiguenga Center for Tropical Studies. As a curious fact, the owners of this place are approximately 125 families from the native community.
For all types of travel it is advisable to always take into account the following:
The tours to the pongo de Mainique that depart from Cusco are for several days.
The 4-day, 3-night tour that starts in Cusco and includes the Megantoni National Sanctuary costs between 400 and 600 dollars per tourist.
It is also possible to go on your own. For this, it is necessary to organize on your own: transportation Cusco – Quillabamba – Echarati – Ivochote. Also the rental of a boat with a local guide. Many tourists choose to camp on the banks of the river or in a local town.
The Pongo de Mainique has a humid and hot climate with temperatures that reach a maximum of 32ºC. and a minimum of 17ºC.
The rains can occur in any month of the year. However, they are more frequent in December, January, February and March. It is in those months, the rainy season, that the waters of the pongo become dangerous.
The rest of the year, from April to November, it is advisable to visit it with a guide who knows the route well.
Many are the routes that take you to Machu Picchu, but none is like the Inca Trail Tours, the most famous pedestrian path in the Americas. After flying from the capital of Perú, Lima, you will arrive in Cusco to walk for four days along a path through forests and dense fog, millenary stone steps and discovering the ruins of ancient fortifications and Inca cities, and all the time enjoying majestic views.