In 1969 we
were based in Lima, Peru making a films for BBC TV. The Manú had
just been recognised by Ian Grimwood, Wildlife Adviser to the Peru government,
as the most untouched of the rivers in the Peruvian Amazon forest and we were
the first TV journalists to know.
Journey to reach the Manú river took us over the Andes Mountains to Cusco
the old Inca capital. From Cusco two routes led eastwards over snow-capped ranges
to the Amazon lowlands via Paucartambo and another via Urcos to
Both routes were rough. We drove our Land Rover to Paucartambo, then to the very
small settlement of Pilcopata and the river Alto Madre de Dios near Shintuya.
Roads penetrating the Amazon were in the Peruvian news and there was a proposal
to extend the Shintuya road to the mouth of the Manú and then northwest
through the forest to Iñapari at the Brasilian border.
Notes of alarm
were raised as the road to Shintuya would open the way for easy access to the
Manú. But road building meant progress so machinery and bridges to cross
small rivers were moved in. For a few years Shintuya bustled. Meanwhile the other
route via Quince Mil was improved and Puerto Maldonado grew so the Manú
route to Iñapari was dropped."
the late 1970's the route to Brasil was settled and a suspension bridge to cross
the Madre de Dios river at Puerto Maldonado was built in Austria by the world
famous engineering company Waagner Biro. The parts were shipped to Peru.
Once erected the bridge would cross the river to a dirt road leading almost due
north to Iñapari where it would cross another river - the Acre - on the
Brasilian border. But the bridge languished in a warehouse for twenty five years.