The tragedy of melting ice caps and glaciers caused by global warming has a silver lining in southern Peru’s Cusco Region. A few years ago receding snowline exposed the exquisite, multi-coloured Rainbow Mountain. Three hours drive east of Cusco, Rainbow Mountain (Vinicunca) is now a popular tourist attraction.
Rainbow Mountain is higher than 5,000 metres and should only be tackled once acclimatised to altitude. Given my previous experience above 5,000 metres, I chose to visit after nearly three weeks in 3,400 metre high Cusco. In August 2016, Lotte and I woke up very early for the day-trip’s 3am pick-up.
Llamas grazing in a stone-walled paddock with an icy peak in the backgroundContinue reading →
15th century Incan citadel Machu Picchu is a world famous historic site and Peru’s biggest tourist attraction. First publicised to the outside world in 1911 by Hiram Bingham, it is one of few significant pre-Columbian sites not discovered and destroyed by the Spanish conquistadors. Machu Picchu was also the final destination of my four day Inka Jungle Trek.
Located between Hidroelectrica and Aguas Calientes, Machu Picchu is approximately 75 kilometres by straight line from CuscoContinue reading →
A popular way to visit tourist magnet Machu Picchu is via a multi-day trek with the primary treks being:
Inca Trail: the most expensive and prestigious route, often requires booking several months in advance
Salkantay Trek: an alternative route that can be hiked independently
Inca (or Inka) Jungle Trek: a hybrid, activity based trek staying in hostels instead of tents
I chose the Inca Jungle Trek and in August 2016 enjoyed a fantastic four days with a wonderful group of people including Dale, Wian, Johann, Damian, Magali and Nicola along with super guide Jhimmy. The good food, reasonable accommodation and great value topped off the trip.
Cusco was the capital of the Incan Empire and this importance is reflected in the region’s impressive archaeological sites.
North of the city are four main sites, entry to which is included in the main Boleto Turistico del Cusco (Tourist Ticket): Tambomachay, Pukapukara, Qenqo and Saqsayhuaman. Along with smaller ruins, they make a great day hike. I enjoyed exploring the area enough to require two days.
The best way to see the sites is to take a taxi, bus or collectivo up to the furthermost site, Tambomachay, and then hike downhill back to Cusco via the other ruins.
Tambomachay includes terraced rocks and water features, the historical function of which is uncertain Continue reading →
Ollantaytambo is a popular tourist destination in the Sacred Valley of the Incas between Cusco and Machu Picchu. Despite crowds of tourists, Ollantaytambo’s impressive Incan ruins are worth exploring.
From Pisac, in August 2016, Xindi, Lina and myself followed the French traveller in and out multiple buses before eventually arriving to Ollantaytambo. Like Pisac, entrance to Ollantaytambo’s ruins is included in the main Boleto Turistica del Cusco (Cusco Tourist Ticket).
Ollantaytambo town’s Incan streets still have drains running through them
Pisac, located in the Sacred Valley of the Incas close to Cusco, makes for a wonderful half- or full-day trip. It is also a great place to relax on a longer visit. Inca Pisac, high above the modern town, contains stunning views and ruins to explore.
Getting from Cusco to Pisac is straightforward, with frequent buses from Avenida Tullumayo and collectivos from Puputi Street travelling there every day. From the modern town to Inca Pisac, one can hike or take a taxi.
Arequipa and Cusco are south Peru tourist destinations and many bus companies, including gringo favourites Cruz del Sur, Oltursa and Civa, operate the 11 hour journey between the cities.
Almost all Arequipa-Cusco buses run overnight and this suits travellers wanting to save on accommodation and maximise sightseeing. However, I highly recommend taking the day bus for the wonderful scenery and wild animals!
Five vicuña, wild relatives of the alpaca and llama, graze on the Andean plainContinue reading →