All posts in "UNESCO"

101 Things to Do In and Around Cusco, Peru

By Owen / May 20, 2018

When you travel long term, one question you get asked a lot is: “What is your favourite city?”

For 6 months, I never had an answer because there are so many cities worth visiting in South America.

That is, until I came to Cusco – and stayed for more than 5 weeks.

Many people will say it’s the most touristic place ever (it’s true) and shun it, but that is one of the reasons I love it there.

Touristic cities are brighter, more colourful, and usually safer. These may not seem like attractive enough reasons for you, but after being on a continent with very similar history and architecture long enough, you’ll appreciate these subtleties.

Touristic cities also have more things to do. Here are a few.


Santa Cruz Trek: A Natural Beautiful Exhaustion

By Owen / October 3, 2017

I slipped on the rock and fell.

My trekking pole snapped in half.

I lifted my bottle to drink, only a few drops came out.

I looked around – I’m all alone.

Is it possible to feel depressed in such natural beauty?

The Santa Cruz trek is described as one of the most beautiful in the world, but here I am, feeling… meh.


Chavin de Huantar: Peru’s Forgotten Civilisation

By Owen / September 29, 2017

I like to travel not just to see and experience new things.

But to understand and relive the experiences of ancient cultures.

From the mysterious Nasca Lines to the enigmatic Tiwanaku ruins, I find myself getting more and more amazed with how seemingly impossible things could be achieved.

This curiosity with the unknown brought me to the ruins of Chavin de Huantar.


Pastoruri Glacier: A Song of Ice and Snow

By Owen / September 27, 2017

Snow pelted against my poncho.

Thunder rumbled in the skies.

A curtain of white blanketed the landscape.

I cursed at the weather, lowered my head and continued walking towards my destination: the Pastoruri Glacier.

“The weather up there at 5000m is like my ex-wife,” said Roger, my guide. “Crazy and unpredictable.”

It’s true. It was hot and sunny just an hour ago but at the glacier, my hands were freezing.


Laguna 69: Day Hike to The Lake Without a Name

By Owen / September 26, 2017

There is something about waterbodies:

The reflection, the tranquillity, the way they are naturally placed among surrounding mountains and valleys that make them so alluring.

Throw in some animals grazing on the grass and the whole scene is postcard perfect.

Waterfalls, lakes, rivers… They always make me stop and stare.

The Laguna 69 in the Cordillera Blanca mountain range of Peru is one of them.


Flying Beyond Nazca: The Mysterious Palpa Lines of Peru

By Owen / September 18, 2017

“And on your right, is the famous Paracas Family,” the co-pilot announced over the speakers as we flew over the image of the ‘cutely-drawn’ family of 5.

Or was it 6? It wasn’t clear.

There’s the man – the head of the family – with a huge mane, like the rays of the sun and holding on a stick; a woman with her long hair till the waist, and two children who look more like rabbits to me.

Separated from the group is a small person, presumably the baby of the family.

The pilot circled around the family to the left, giving the passengers on the other side an equal chance to see the Family.

Now this is not something one gets to see every day, not even on the famous Nazca Lines flight. This is the lesser known Palpa Lines.


Salkantay Trek: Gringo Killers and Inca Flats

By Owen / September 3, 2017

Machu Picchu has always been my dream destination to visit:

There’s something about the accurately-fitted ruins with much historical significance, the engineering genius in accordance to the sun and moon and it being hidden in the clouds that makes it so mystical.

I once had a photoshopped picture of myself holding my selfie stick in front of the famed postcard photo of Machu Picchu. That’s how much I wanted to visit it.

One would’ve thought I’d rush to visit the New Wonder of the World the moment I arrived in Cusco, but it was only almost 3 weeks later that I took the plunge and went on a 5-day Salkantay pilgrimage to Machu Picchu.

I wanted the experience to be as perfect as possible and I guess subconsciously, I was worried that it wouldn’t live up to the hype and image that I built up in my mind.

I shouldn’t have worried at all.


Tiwanaku Ruins: The Enigmatic Civilisation of Bolivia

By Owen / August 2, 2017

Everyone who travels in South America knows the Inca, undoubtedly one of the mightiest empire in its time; so much so that periods have been defined as pre-Inca or post-Inca.

Many also know about the Mayans and the Aztecs.

But hardly anyone has heard of the Tiwanaku. Admittedly, neither did I, before I came to Bolivia.

Yet, the Tiwanaku was the longest-running civilisation in South America, from AD 300 – AD 1000; and one of the most important pre-Columbian cultures in the Andean region.

The Tiwanaku site was also the spiritual and political centre of the Tiwanaku civilization. The history lover in me just had to visit the site.


Samaipata: El Fuerte Ruins and Las Cuevas Waterfalls

By Owen / July 24, 2017

“The echo in the valley is our mountain wifi,” said Cecilio, the guide we hired.

We took turns to shout, and the verdant mountains shouted back at us. Echoes always make me smile.

Or maybe, it was the clear blue skies and stunning mountain views that accompanied us as we walked the easy mountain trail to the ruins of El Fuerte, located just 9km from the tranquil town of Samaipata.


Humbled in Potosi, Bolivia: Cerro Rico Mine Tour

By Owen / July 12, 2017

What would you do if you knew you’d die at 45?

Would you continue working hard in your job which pays peanuts?

What if your job is the reason you’d die at 45?

What if… there are no other options?

This is the fate of the 12 000 miners of Cerro Rico (Rich Hill) in Potosi, Bolivia. And I had the chance to visit these miners on a tour to the mines.

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