Vinicunca, also known as Montaña de Siete Colores and Rainbow Mountain, is a mountain 17,100 above sea level near Cusco, Peru, easily recognizable for its distinct series of colorful stripes, which result from the mountains mineralogocial composition.
The final hike to reach the mountain is only a couple of miles long, but in parts quite steep, and due to the altitude can get challenging. Some tourists resort to taking horses up to the very last steep ascent.
One of my favorite activities while traveling is exploring - picking an area that looks interesting and heading there, keeping eyes open with no fixed plan and following where my heart leads me.
In so many places around the world, I think a motorcycle is the best way to do that. On a motorcycle, you have so much more freedom than you ever could with an organized tour, you can go places where cars can’t, and cover much more ground than you could on foot, bicycle, or horseback.
It’s even better if you can bring a buddy along - so I was happy that my friend Brian was down to join me in exploring the mountains near Cusco, Peru on motorcycles.
This is a post some twenty years in the making. So many of us, I think, have seen a photo of Machu Picchu and thought, “Wow! I wanna go there.” I know I did, and for a couple of decades I let that sit on my bucket list. Well this December I finally went there - and after so many years of building great expectations, the journey exceeded them. Let me tell you about it.
Day 1: Into the Wild
Planning this trip, I felt that surely Machu Picchu shall be the highlight, but that it would be even grander to hike to it, to set the mood and tone and anticipation. So that’s what Stephanie and I did - a four day trek on the ancient Inca Trail, reaching Machu Picchu on the morning of the fourth day.
We set off from Cusco around 5am, caught up on sleep on the bus, and after a quick breakfast set off upstream, following the Urubamba River from around Tanca.
“Go! Go hard! Go go go!” Tommy yells over and over. Adrenaline pumping, we paddle like mad dogs to get enough momentum to punch through wave train of Hermit Rapid… and we do! We emerge on the far side, tired but victorious, and watch from an eddy as the other boats go in.
They follow our course… but suddenly there’s a head sticking out of the water. Lora, the guide, leaps to pull the person out, only to let the boat drift sideways into the next wave. The raft flips, and now there’s heads bobbing out of the water all around. “Get ready!” Tommy hollers, “We’re the rescue boat now!”
Watch the video to see how things unfolded from there: