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

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

Pisac, Sacred Valley of the Incas, Cusco

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.

Pisac, Sacred Valley of the Inkas, Cusco

Beautiful mountains, valleys and Incan terraces from Inca Pisac Continue reading

Eating and Meeting in Lima – Peru’s Capital and Dominant City

Ugly Water Fountain, Plaza Mayor, Lima

Part of the central water fountain in Lima’s historic Plaza Mayor; the red and white flags fly in anticipation of the 28-29 July Fiestas Patrias (Peruvian national holidays)

Arequipa maybe Peru’s food capital and Cusco the country’s tourism capital but Lima is its transportation, business, dining and official capital. With one-third of Peru’s population, Lima dominates the country.

For many time-limited tourists, Lima is merely a place to transit between planes and buses. However, in a city with almost ten million people, there is much to do. Continue reading

Partying and Pictures in Paraty

Paraty, Brazil

A stand up paddle board and paddles balancing on Paraty beach Praia do Pontal with stand up paddlers paddling on the water in the background

Founded in 1597, Paraty (also spelt Parati) is a historic town on the Costa Verde (Green Coast) between Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. Once an intermediate port for gold travelling from Minas Gerais to Portugal, Paraty was neglected for much of its recent history. This neglect helped preserve Paraty’s old buildings, contributing to its current charm as a tourist destination. Continue reading

Rio de Janeiro, Yeah!

From Salvador I flew south to Rio de Janeiro for a fun mid-June week. I  previously visited Rio in November although only briefly and primarily to see Pearl Jam perform. This time I came to meet friends of old, make new friends and see the famous city’s sites.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Only a few people visited Ipanema Beach on this overcast day Continue reading

Tucano’s Weekly Markets, Bahia, Brazil

Tucano Saturday Markets, Bahia, Brazil

Wheelbarrows are a popular way of moving goods at Tucano’s Saturday markets

Tucano’s Saturday markets are great for buying fresh produce and people-watching. Not that the markets are a tourist attraction – during both this and December’s visits I didn’t notice another foreigner. The markets take up several inner-Tucano streets with different sections for produce, clothes and other goods. On this occasion Fernanda, Mariana and I caught a lift with Luis Carlos who was selling his custard apples (chirimoya), guavas and a local fruit. The custard apples tasted fantastic.
Continue reading

Porto Alegre, Friends and Food in Southern Brazil

The final week of May I spent in Porto Alegre, capital of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil’s southernmost state. From Foz do Iguaçu I took a 21 hour bus ride that, after a vehicle breakdown and wait for replacement, lasted almost 24 hours .

The climate from Foz do Iguaçu to Porto Alegre is subtropical. I’ve never seen as much green foliage as on this journey. At one of the trip’s many stops was a sculpture exhibition by Katielly Lanzini. The models seemed out of place, surrounding a dimly lit concrete bus station stairway.

Chapecó Prefecture, Santa Catarina

Katielly Lanzini dinosaur sculptures at Chapecó Prefecture bus station in Santa Catarina Continue reading