Huaraz, north of Lima, is the capital of Peru’s Ancash department and a great base for trekking the Andes Mountains.
Ancash has many peaks over 6,000 metres’ elevation including Peru’s tallest mountain, at 6,768 metres, Huascarán. In May 2017 I was keen on hiking and seeing amazing landscapes. I wasn’t getting too high though, after previously experiencing altitude sickness twice above 5,000 metres.
While visiting Huaraz I hiked Laguna Wicacocha and Laguna 69. For more serious trekkers, the region has many multi-day options including the classic Santa Cruz trek.
Following are my favourite photos of Huaraz and surrounds.
South of Huaraz, the hike to 3,750 metre high Laguna Wicocha is a great half-day outing and altitude-acclimatiser. As a bonus, the views are fantastic.
Worker riding tricycle with trailer next to Laguna Wilcacocha and in front of snow-capped mountains
Alli, me and Heather in Cotahuasi Canyon (photo: Alli)
Between 2,500 and 3,500 metres from floor to rim, southern Peru’s Cotahuasi is one of the world’s deepest canyons. With amazing landscapes, waterfalls, natural hot springs and ancient terraces, the Cotahuasi Canyon is a hidden treasure that receives few tourists.
Cotahuasi is in Arequipa Region’s La Unión Province.
In April 2017 Cotahuasi Canyon seemed a distant, mysterious place off the beaten track. Upon hearing fellow Yes! Arequipa hostel guests Alli and Heather were going, I asked to join. Soon after, I was at Arequipa’s bus station buying a ticket to Cotahuasi Town, the La Unión Province capital and canyon gateway.
Cotahuasi Canyon map excerpt featuring places visited on the trip including Cotahuasi, Luicho, Alca, Tompepampa, Sipia Waterfalls (Catarata de Sipia), Charcana and Quechualla
Soroa, 7 kilometres north of the Havana-Pinar del Río Freeway is a village known for both its waterfall and orchid garden. As fans of orchids the latter attracted Rocío and me and we made a detour to Soroa between Viñales and Havana.
Getting to Soroa from Viñales without private transport took two colectivos and then a Jeep organised by a tout from the mechanic near the Candelaria/Soroa junction. The travel logistics and costs are listed below this post.
Soroa Waterfall (Salto del Arco Iris)
The Soroa Waterfall has two entrances. The Jeep dropped us off adjacent the lower, southern one where we paid the 3 CUC (US$3) entry fee.
Entry signs to waterfall Salto del Arco Iris; cascada is Spanish for waterfall; entry costs Cubans 10 CUP (US$0.40) and foreigners 3 CUC (US$3)
January is well outside the May to October wet season so the waterfall was a relative trickle. Despite this, the overhang and surrounding greenery still made a beautiful setting.
The scenery and views around Pitumarka in Ayapata District blew me away. Travelling from Macusani, Rocío and I accompanied guide Ulices and our Hilux 4WD driver for the first of two amazing day trips.
Seeing the glaciers, mountains, waterfalls, lakes, Andean geese, flamingos and other birds on the way to Taype was a great start. At Taype we turned off the main Ayapata unsealed road and drove past Lake Taype surrounded by mountains and potato fields.
Ollachea is stunningly set amongst the mountains, large waterfall and ancient terraces. These surroundings along with the natural hot spring make the mining services town worth visiting. At 2,785 high, Ollachea’s elevation and climate lie between tropical San Gaban 54 kilometres north and tundra Macusani 49 kilometres south. Like San Gaban and Macusani, Ollachea is capital of its own district in Carabaya Province, part of southern Peru’s Puno Region.
In October 2016 Rocío and I came to Ollachea to relax in its natural hot springs and enjoy more wonderful trout. While visiting, my camera flash mysteriously failed. We also toured ancient sites nearby worth their own blog post.
A central Ollachea street with surrounding mountains blanketed by cloudsContinue reading →
The journey from Ayapata to Puerto Maldonado was my most amazing and varied single day of travel ever. Seeing glaciers, tropical jungle and other magnificent landscapes all on the same day is hard to beat.
In late September 2016 Rocío and I wanted to get from Ayapata, Puno Region to Puerto Maldonado in Madre de Dios during daylight to view the scenery. There was no direct day transport, not even from Macusani. Using local advice, we reached our destination via the following steps:
Ayapata to Macusani Bus Terminal: van
Macusani Bus Terminal to Macusani Terminal Terrestre: mototaxi
Macusani Terminal Terrestre to Lechemayo: van
Lechemayo to Mazuko: mototaxi
Mazuko to Puerto Maldonado: shared car
Ayapata to Macusani Bus Terminal by Van
A mountain with sheer cliffs towers over this building between Ayapata and MacusaniContinue reading →
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 →
The 22 May bus trip from Argentina’s Puerto Iguazú, across Fraternity Bridge, through both sets of immigration and to my hostel in Brazil’s Foz do Iguaçu only took half an hour. This contrasts greatly to my Argentinian entry when I waited for seven hours. The towns’ proximities belie their different languages and out of habit I thanked people with “gracias” many times before adjusting to the Portuguese “obrigado”.
Foz do Iguaçu has a significant population of Lebanese descent. When the local Arab restaurant didn’t have individual pieces of baklava, I performed exceptionally, eating a whole tray. The baklava tasted delicious, too.
The next day, Vimia and I caught a suburban bus to Iguaçu National Park, home of Brazil’s Iguassu Falls. The bus also stops at the city’s airport terminal, convenient and cheap for people with air connections. Prior to entering the park, we visited the adjacent Parque das Aves (Bird Park).
Video of a bird mimicking a boy at Parque das Aves. The bird chases the boy and even copies his jump Continue reading →