Macusani, the High Altitude Home of Alpacas, Precious Memories and Sun Halos

About Macusani

Macusani, located 4,315 metres high up in the Andes Mountains, is the capital of Carabaya Province in southern Peru’s Puno Region. Macusani is also the self-proclaimed Peruvian and world alpaca capital.

Although receiving few tourists, the Carabaya Province, including districts Macusani, Corani, Ayapata, Ollachea and San Gaban, has amazing sights. Macusani town is not so scenic although it has views of snowy mountains on clear days. Mountains in the area include 5,805 metre high Allincapac and the world’s largest tropical glacier, Quelccaya Ice Cap. In Macusani town I did see my first ever sun halo, a colourful circle resembling a 360 degree rainbow.

For visitors, Macusani has basic hotels, restaurants, shops, a central market (Mercado Central) pharmacies and a single ATM inside the Caja Arequipa bank (only accessible during office hours). The weekly street market occurs Tuesdays. In October 2016 wifi was non-existent and not all mobile telephone networks had coverage. At least basic Spanish (or Quechua) is required as few people spoke any English.Macusani sheep and mountains

Sheep graze on the outskirts of Macusani with snow-topped mountains in the background Continue reading

Pukara, Ancient Archaeological Site and Ornamental Bulls

Pukara, also written as Pucara, is the name of both a southern Peruvian town and a nearby archaeological site in the Lampa Province of Puno Region. Less than an hour from Ayaviri, Rocío and I stopped here in September 2016 to explore the ruins and associated museum.

Pukara archaelogical site in front of mountain, Puno Region, Peru

Pukara ruins in front of a rocky hill Continue reading

Ayaviri, a Historic Andean Town

Historic town Ayaviri lies at 3,900 metres in the Andes’ high plateau. Ayaviri is the capital of Melgar Province in southern Peru’s Puno Region. Known for its Kankacho (baked mutton accompanied by potatoes) and cheese, Ayaviri also has hot springs and a notable cathedral.

Cathedral of Saint Francis of Assisi, Ayaviri, Melgar Province, Puno Region, Peru

Ayaviri’s late 17th century Andean Baroque-style Cathedral of Saint Francis of Assisi dominated the town centre Continue reading

Ilo, a Peruvian Port Town with Pelicans and Great Seafood

Boats, Ilo Port, Moquegua Region, Peru

Fishing boats graduating in size from tiny to huge, Ilo Harbour, Moquegua Region

Ilo, in southern Peru’s Moquegua Region, is a fishing and copper mining port off the tourist map. Located in the Atacama Desert, Ilo receives almost no rain. 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

Cusco Food and Dining

Cusco’s international exposure and Peru’s South American-leading cuisine combine to provide fantastic food options. Following are seven favourite places from my July-August 2016 stay.

ChocoMuseo Café

Although touristy, the ChocoMuseo museum, gift shop and café are well worth a visit, or, in my case, multiple visits. The museum explains the chocolate production process and history and the café serves exquisite chocolate-based food and drinks. ChocoMuseo’s workshops also come recommended.

Hot Chocolate and Chocolate Mousse, ChocoMuseo, Cusco

Chocolate mousse and mix your own Mayan hot chocolate ingredients (chilli, honey, hot milk and cacao) viewing Plaza Regocijo and the city beyond Continue reading

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