johnandmandi Check-Ins

Date Place Comment
Picarones Jovana

Street food cart serving picarones (donuts) with cane syrup (3 soles for a plate of 4) and papas rellenas (2.50 soles each). We tried a couple different carts and Jovana was the best, always fried our food fresh and super friendly. Also ate the meat skewers from the cart next door, choice of chicken, beef, and more for 5 soles each.

Pizzeria Bassano

Good pizza, hand tossed crust, we had a large ‘Full Meat’ pizza for 48s, toppings included sausage, salami, ham, olives.

Mundopan

Not sure what is artisanal about this place...seems like a normal panaderia to us.

Otra Cosa

Tried the falafel plate for 22 soles (smaller plate available for 18 soles), quite possibly the worst falafel of our trip-dense, dry, and totally flavorless.

EcoRuralPeru

Camper bathhouse including hot shower is now completed. For two of us with a van we paid 25 soles per night. Laundry is 6 soles per kilo for wash and dry. Ricardo speaks English, is a mechanic and has a small shop onsite, he helped us with a couple small things on our van. He also provided info on the area attractions and directions. WiFi decent, we used our extender since we were parked near the bathhouse. It is near the airport but no planes at night.

Hacienda San Antonio, Banos del Inca, Cajamarca

We were told the price is 50 soles per person so we didn’t stay.

Leymebamba Museum

Still 15 soles per person for entry, great museum with information and artifacts from the surrounding region. There is also a shop with local crafts and a cafe here with many more options than the three sandwiches at KentiKafe, looked nice but we had already eaten.

Kentikafe

Cappuccino (5.50s) and Americano (4s) were good, they roast the coffee here on the stove. Also had chicken sandwiches (8s each) and a brownie (3.50s) which were mediocre, the sandwiches were microwaved meat on a stale bun with lettuce, tomato, and mayo. The garden around the tables and the hummingbirds are beautiful, we saw many varieties, including a female Spatuletail. The museum serves full meals for less than the sandwiches here, although we didn’t try them because we had already eaten here.

Estancia Candamo

We ran into the owner at Huembo and he invited us to stay on his property as long as we eat at the restaurant. Breakfast is 6 soles per person for juice, rolls, eggs, and coffee. Pizza is 16-18 soles with other dishes available. We parked in the grass near the 4 rooms. There is use of a bathroom with hot water. The owners are very sweet (Hugo and Marlena) and extremely knowledgeable of the area. It is located on the highway but road noise isn’t bad due to the terrain being fairly flat. They are closed December - February. They have two dogs and a cat. WhatsApp/Tel: 999 958 989

Yumbilla Trailhead

We were unable to drive to the trailhead due to a washout. The road was cleared enough for Tuk Tuks. No information on when it will be open to all traffic again.

Huembo Nature Reserve

Spent one night out front, highway is very noisy with trucks all hours. Park hours are 7-5, closed on Sunday, also they randomly close to run errands or drive their children to/from school. If the gate is not chained just let yourself in and walk down to the house to pay, 25 soles per person. They will inform you about the different trails. We saw the Spatuletail at both hummingbird viewpoints but the one with the roofed sitting area was better. We spent over an hour and a half in the morning and another hour before lunch. Other visitors we met stayed into the afternoon and got a video of two Spatuletail at the same time. Great experience.

Caja Trujillo - SOAT

Location was incorrect, updated location. Took over an hour but purchased 1 year of insurance for 85 soles. Could not purchase less than 1 year.

La Hormiga (La Balsa), Ecuador to San Ignacio, Peru

Southbound: The drive from Vilcabamba took us a little over 5 hours in our Ford E350 4x4 camper van. As stated, the first stretch is mostly paved with several unfinished dirt sections. The last 50km is a dirt single track with a few muddy sections, never requiring 4x4. Very pretty drive. We reached the border at 1:15 and had both sides completed by 2:00, just before their lunch break. We only needed copies for Peruvian TIP, 1 each of ownership document (title/registration) and owner passport. Asked and received 183 days, TIP is for 1 year. We purchased insurance in San Ignacio and have added our details in that entry.

Immigration / Customs Ecuador

The drive from Vilcabamba took us a little over 5 hours in our Ford E350 4x4 camper van. As stated, the first stretch is mostly paved with several unfinished dirt sections. The last 50km is a dirt single track with a few muddy sections, never requiring 4x4. Very pretty drive. We reached the border at 1:15 and had both sides completed by 2:00, just before their lunch break. We only needed copies for Peruvian TIP, 1 each of ownership document (title/registration) and owner passport. Asked and received 183 days, TIP is for 1 year. We purchased insurance in San Ignacio and have added our details in that entry.

Hotel Valle Sagrado

We stayed 5 nights for $5 per person per night. Showers were hot, we drank the water without issue after being told it was potable, WiFi okay. Location perfect for exploring town, however it is on the main highway with many loud vehicles from 5:30 in the morning till 11 at night. Only issue was that the managing family had a party Saturday night in the courtyard that lasted until 6am.

Parking for Podocarpus National Park

Quiet night with sounds of the river. We are 4.4 tons and felt ok with the road as it is now, a couple narrow spots but felt firm (a bus passed us on our way in). Sign says 30 min to the facilities, which is about how long it took us. Pretty waterfalls where you can swim an additional 10-30 minutes past the facilities (two options). Not many orchids blooming when we were here.

Parque Nacional Podocarpus

Thought we might have made a mistake when we found out it was a long holiday and there were over 70 visitors, but most only stay an hour or so. Very quiet night, only the sound of the wind. Facilities as detailed below, WiFi still good, streamed videos. Did the short hike to the first mirador and around both of the small loops, views were a little fogged in but the forest is beautiful and the trail wasn’t too muddy.

Parking Place Círculo Militar

We stayed here for 4 nights at the end of Feb and returned the end of March. We were told they were no longer allowing foreigners to park overnight so we had to leave. We are not marking this entry as closed, future Overlanders may want to check this lot before choosing another place as it is a great secure location. If someone does visit this site and are told they could not stay please mark this entry as closed.

Termas de Papallacta

Camping was $6 pp, Termas $8.50 pp. Cheaper options closer to town but this place is beautiful and they are constantly cleaning the pools, over 10 pools to choose from so always hot options available.

Pileus Brewery

Craft brewery and restaurant. When we visited there were 6 brews (Mango Habanero IPA, Smoked Pumpkin Ale, Hoppy Ale, IPA, Organic Cacao Vanilla Stout, Organic Cacoa Stout), a flight of all 6 was $12 and delicious. A pint is $5-7, 330ml are $3.50, prices depend on alcohol content. Joel the owner is Ecuadorian/American and speaks English. Location is on the second floor, use stairs on the side.

Finca El Maco

Price still 15,000 per person for vehicle camping. Clean kitchen, bathrooms, cold shower, power and nonpotable water at site. Fast WiFi during the day (while other guests are away). Laundry service available for 5,000 per kilo washing and line drying, additional 4,000 per kilo for machine drying.

Casa De Nelly

Pros: very pretty grounds, friendly staff, one of the best hot showers in a long time. Cons: tiny parking area that was very busy with taxis anytime between 6am and 11pm, WiFi very slow most of the time and useless in the evenings, worst coffee in all of Columbia.

Hospedaje Lucerna

The price is now 6,000 per person. The old man is still here but a younger couple is running the hospedaje now. Showers are hot and bathrooms clean. Highly recommended against drinking the water (entry says potable and the owners said it was okay) because we got very sick for the first time on our PanAm trip. We purchased WiFi time from the Kiosco Digital building in the museum complex for 200 per hour and had pretty good reception from our camper.

Camping area of Desierto de La Tatacoa

Price still 7,000 per person, toilets and cold shower (bonus). It was so hot that even with our fan on we still couldn’t fall asleep till around midnight. Views are beautiful. It took us around 2.5 hours to drive the Tatacoa/Constellation loop from here.

From Tatacoa North or reverse

Road is no problem but took us closer to 2 hours in our Ford E350 from the highway to the Tatacoa Observatory. The tunnels had up to 12 inches of standing water in some areas but the bottom was gravel, not muddy.

Parque Natural Chicaque

We camped outside the gate because there is only tent camping in the park and Boquemonte down the road was closed. The park workers drive back and forth between the two gates until closing time but is was quiet after 6pm. Not super level but we managed.

Reserve Boquemonte

Tried to stay here but the facility wasn’t open. We stayed outside the park entrance for Chicaque instead.

Mi Refugio

The road is finished and open. We stayed here 3 weeks in October 2017 and left as the road in front of Mi Refugio started being improved. It is a great place with hot showers, decent WiFi, the best location, and wonderful hosts (Diana, Santiago, and little Lucia). At one point there were 4 rigs with space to pack in a couple more. Tent camping is allowed and there is an onsite laundry machine for an additional charge. We paid 18,000 per person per night w/o electricity.

Renacer Hostel Colombian Highlands

Price still 18,000 per person with a free breakfast after the 4th night. Hot showers, clean bathrooms, pretty grounds. Unfortunately, the hostel has speakers on the outside of the building near the camping area so we listened to music from about 8am to 9pm every day, not a big deal but not a plus either. If you prefer a hostel style facility this one is nice, we prefer Mi Refugio because it is closer in town and quieter, but couldn’t stay there this time because of road construction.

Montserrat

Delicious breakfast, sandwiches, crepes, homemade preserves, and coffee from various regions in Colombia. Egg breakfast with a small piece of bacon, toast, and coffee/tea/chocolate for 7k pesos. Photos of menu attached.


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