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

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

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

From the Brazilian Pantanal to La Paz, Bolivia by Taxi, Train and Bus

From the amazing Brazilian Pantanal I needed to get to La Paz, Bolivia. With no direct flights and one-way flights ridiculously expensive, the best mode was overland.

Leaving the excellent Hostel Road Riders in Corumbá, Brazil, Dana, Ela and I took a taxi to the Bolivian border. As an Australian, I obtained my Bolivian entry stamp easily. Not so Israeli passport holders Dana and Ela. Border officials shunted them around, asked for itineraries and bookings and treated them with disdain.

Quijarro Border Crossing, Bolivia

The Corumbá-Quijarro border crossing from outside a shop on the Bolivian side where I waited for Dana and Ela

After a few hours Dana and Ela still had not received their visas so I left the border for Puerto Quillaro’s La Brasilena train station. There I met New Zealanders Kyle and Anna who also wanted to buy a ticket on the Death Train to Santa Cruz de la Sierra. Continue reading