Peru’s Amazing Rainbow Mountain

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.

Alpacas and Ice Cap, Rainbow Mountain

Llamas grazing in a stone-walled paddock with an icy peak in the background Continue reading

Machu Picchu – the Culmination of the Inka Jungle Trek

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.

Machu Picchu, Cusco, Peru

Located between Hidroelectrica and Aguas Calientes, Machu Picchu is approximately 75 kilometres by straight line from Cusco Continue reading

Inka Jungle Trek – Four Days of Fun and Amazing Scenery

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.

Booked through my Cusco hostel Ecopackers, Inca Path Peru operated the tour.

Day 1

The tour began with a drive from Cusco up to 4,350 metre high Malaga Pass. From the high Andes mountains with glaciers visible we mountain biked downhill to hot and humid Huamanmar.

Inca Jungle Trek, Cusco

The Inka Jungle Trek driver removing mountain bikes from the van roof with a glacier in the background Continue reading

Tambomachay, Pukapukara, Qenqo, Saqsayhuaman and other Archaeological Sites North of Cusco

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

TambomachayTambomachay includes terraced rocks and water features, the historical function of which is uncertain
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Historic Ollantaytambo, Cusco, Peru

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 Street Drain

Ollantaytambo town’s Incan streets still have drains running through them

Ollantaytambo Crowds and Ruins

Tourist crowds in the archaeological site above Ollantaytambo town Continue reading

Travelling from Arequipa to Cusco, Peru

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!

Vicunas on side of road between Arequipa and Cusco

Five vicuña, wild relatives of the alpaca and llama, graze on the Andean plain Continue reading

Hiking Peru’s Colca Canyon

Note: see article end for 14 tips on visiting and hiking the Colca Canyon

Condor at Cruze del Condor, Colca Canyon

A majestic Andean condor flying past Cruz del Condor in Peru’s Colca Canyon

One of the deepest canyons in the world, the Colca Canyon is an excellent hiking destination and a prime place to see the awesome Andean condor.

Located in Arequipa Region’s Caylloma Province, the Colca Canyon is five hours’ drive north of Arequipa city. A major tourism destination, buses, tourist vans and guided tours depart daily from Arequipa for the canyon. Continue reading

Isla del Sol, Lake Titicaca: the Largest Island on the World’s Highest Lake

One morning last July the Bolivia Hop bus picked me and others up from La Paz’s Wild Rover Hostel. Our destination was Copacabana on Lake Titicaca, at 3,800 metres, the world’s highest navigable lake.

Bolivia Hope Bus on Lake Titicaca

The Bolivia Hop bus and other vehicles being moved by barge across Lake Titicaca on the way from La Paz to Copacabana Continue reading