One of the most spectacular spots of the river is the Pongo de Mainique, a 50-meter wide, three-kilometer-long white-water gorge that is festooned with orchids and swarming with macaws. This is the portal to the afterlife of the Machiguengas.
Because of this area’s tremendous elevation changes, scientists have noted unusually high levels of bird and animal species, which include military macaws, wooly monkeys, black spider monkeys, and quetzals.
The only lodge in the area is Sabeti Lodge (tel. 01/420-4340, www.sabetilodge.com , US$60 pp per day), which is near the Machiguenga community of Timpia, at the confluence of the Urubamba and Timpia Rivers.
The lodge began as a joint venture between Peru Verde, a Peruvian environmental organization, and the community of Timpia. The lodge is now 100 percent owned and controlled by the Machiguenga community of Timpia. It includes 10 screened rooms, flush toilets, and hot-water showers.
There are 125 Machiguenga families in Timpia and they cooperate in showing guests the biodiverse jungle in the area, which includes a half-dozen clay licks and a chance to see a wide range of wildlife. This is a great opportunity to get off the beaten path, see unusual animals, and get a good sense of how people live in the Amazon.
The lodge can be reached either by a 50-minute flight from Cusco  to a nearby airstrip, or via a seven-hour bus ride from Cusco to Quillabamba, and then another eight-hour bus ride to Ivochote. From Ivochote, it’s a three-hour bus ride to Timpia.