Where is Ayapata?

Ayapata in Carabaya Province, Peru, is a place I never knew existed*. This was until Rocío and I saw Macusani posters advertising Ayapata’s first coffee festival for 25 September 2016. We thought it was a great excuse to visit, despite the excellent Maps.Me showing no roads leading to Ayapata. Even today, Google Maps still shows a road-less town of Ayapata District.

An unsealed road did link Macusani to Ayapata, with vans departing from Macusani’s bus terminal for the two hour journey. Flamingos, Andean geese, ducks and other birds inhabited the stunning Andes mountain and lake scenery.

The journey’s second half encountered fog, darkness and rain. Rocío feared the steep roadside drops and poor visibility combined with the usual South American driving style.

Sitting in front of the van travelling to Ayapata on mountainsides in low visibility Continue reading

Cusco, Capital of the Former Incan Empire

Cusco’s colonial charm, Incan history, surrounding Sacred Valley and, not least, proximity to Machu Picchu combine to make it Peru’s tourism capital. With great food options and lots to see, the city is an excellent trip hub despite its 3,400 metre-high elevation. I was based there for three weeks in July and August 2016.

Plaza de Armas and Surrounding Mountains, Cusco

Cusco’s central Plaza de Armas including the imposing cathedral

Also known as Cuzco, Cusco was capital of the Inca Empire for almost a century until conquered by the Spanish conquistadors in 1533. The Spanish destroyed the original structures and replaced them with the colonial city, often building on Incan foundations. Continue reading

Moray Circles and Maras Salt in Cusco’s Sacred Valley

The Sacred Valley’s unique Moray archaeological site and Maras salt mines (Salinas de Maras) make a popular day trip from Cusco. I visited in August 2016.

At the tour’s first stop ladies demonstrated how llama and alpaca wool was traditionally dyed using naturally sourced ingredients and spun for weaving.

Incan Textiles, Maras, Cusco, Peru

Ladies in traditional clothing demonstrate how alpaca and llama wool was dyed and spun 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

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
Continue reading

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

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

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