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Hiking Peru's Rainbow Mountain

Peru's Rainbow Mountain is becoming more and more famous with each passing year, but its very existence is a sign of the times. Of course, the mountain goes back millions of years, but the reason it's so popular now is because until recently, it wasn't accessible nor visible. Prior to around 2010 or so, the mountain and the surrounding mountains were encased in a giant glacier. Due to climate change, however, that glacier has retreated and revealed the stunning rainbow-coloured landscape.

Because of this, although tourism brings in a lot of people, the infrastructure to handle the throngs of travellers hasn't been developed. The road to the mountain is long and bumpy, winding up, up and up into the mountains. Once you arrive at the area, the bathrooms have no running water, no heat, and no lights. There's no toilet paper either, so you can buy four squares of paper for 1 soles, which is about 25 cents. Cash only.

It is about a 4-hour drive from Cusco, but you can stop in places to get if you need. The landscape is stunning and you'll see scores of llamas and alpacas dotting the mountain tops as you drive up the slopes. There are some at Rainbow Mountain too, but you have to charge if you want to take a photo of them. The cost of the photo depends on how much money you have on you. The owners of the llamas have a similar salesman mentality as the shoe cleaners in Cusco. The first shoe costs 2 soles to clean, but the second shoe costs 40.

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A Day In The Sacred Valley of the Incas

Peru is filled with magic, and it all leads back to the Sacred Valley of the Incas. Although the Incas are whom the valley is named after, the history of this long stretch in the Andes Mountains goes back thousands of years - to about the time Homer was writing the Iliad and Odyssey in Greece, and Britain was entering the Iron Age.

The first people to settle here were the Chanapata, around 800 BCE. Next came the Qotacalla, around 1,300 years later, and lasting until 900 CE. The Killke would follow them next and would rule until 1420 when the Incas took over.

The Incas would rule the valley until 1573 when the Spanish arrived.

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Journey to Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu, or The Old Mountain in the traditional Quechua language, is one of the most sought-after bucket list destinations in the world. If you're reading this, there's a good chance it's on your list too.

Surprisingly, however, very little is actually known about this historic site. The Incas did not keep written records of their empire, so all we know is that this site was abandoned around 1572, in fear that the Spanish would conquer and destroy it. However, the Spanish never came, and instead, the site sat empty for nearly five hundred years.

There have always been rumours about a lost city of gold in South America, so when the site was rediscovered in 1911 by Hiram Bingham, many suspected it to be the legendary city. However, instead, they found a stone city covered in thick jungle and – assuming the same insect life that was there when I visited – around a trillion hungry mosquitoes.

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The Magicks of Maestro Presbiterio Cemetery

There are four types of magicks in Peru: black, white, red, and green, all of which can be found within The Maestro Presbíterio Cemetery.

When I started this article, I wanted to write about the history of The Maestro Presbíterio Cemetery in Lima. The cemetery is not only the oldest cemetery in Peru, but also in South America, dating back to 1808. It was an alternative to the stifling catacombs that sprawl beneath the city's streets. Since its inception, there have been many controversies about the cemetery, starting with the first burial of Archbishop Juan Domingo Gonzales de la Reguera in 1808 and continuing when Norka Rouskaya “profanated” the cemetery with her nude performance of Chopin's Funeral March in 1917.

But in the spirit of Halloween, I didn't want to write an essay about a cemetery's history. That will come at a later time when I have more chance to dig into the names and places of people whom I am still learning about. There are over 250,000 bodies interned in The Maestro Presbíterio Cemetery and to only share a handful of half-researched stories would be a disservice.

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Huacachina: The Oasis of America

Remote Year has two, separate weekend packages to experience Huacachina. The first was a direct, one-day trip. It involved leaving Lima early in the morning, taking the bus about five hours south, enjoying the day, and taking the bus back. Although fun, it would be an exhausting day on the bus.

The other option was a two-day trip, starting in Lima, going to Paracas for the night, and then heading to Huacachina. This was the option I chose. A few people wanted to do the single-day option, but the cost associated with driving only two or three people a collective ten hours wasn't really worth it. Instead, they changed their mind and joined the two-day tour.

So, although this article is about Huacachina, it actually starts off in Paracas, where the last article ended.

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Fun, Sun & Sand in Paracas

Our second weekend trip in Peru with Remote Year took us to Paracas and Huacachina.

Technically, the entire weekend was about Huacachina, but the first day was all about getting to and enjoying the natural beauty of Paracas.

The town of Paracas, with a population of around 4,500 people, is about three hours from Lima, so the day began with an early morning on the bus. Unlike the earlier trip to the Amazon, this trip consisted of the majority of the people in the Remote Year program. There were a few exceptions, as some of the members had contracted COVID-19 and had to isolate themselves, but for the most part, the entire group was able to make it on this trip.

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Trending Articles About Canada


5 Weekend Destinations In Saskatchewan

The past few weeks have been really busy for me, with a lot more time at the office and a lot less time travelling. Thankfully, the weekend is just around the corner and with it comes the possibility of a two day vacation. Having traveled to Lac La Ronge earlier this month, I've been thinking more and more about these short trips and how rejuvenating they can be.

Unfortunately, I haven't done as much travelling around Saskatchewan as I'd like, so I wasn't sure what the best places to visit were. There were of course the obvious choices such as Regina, Saskatoon and Moose Jaw, but I wanted someplace remote, yet somewhat close. For this project I approached some of my fellow travel bloggers and I got some ideas of what to go do and see for a weekend. I went through their ideas and came up with this short list of 5 weekend destinations in Saskatchewan.

Thanks to TELUS' incredible network, sections of Saskatchewan that once never had coverage can now be fully explored while still being connected to your mobile device. No matter where you travel in Saskatchewan -- or even in Canada -- this summer, you can rely on TELUS' mobile network to keep you connected.

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Birthday Freebies in Regina - Updated for 2023!

I originally wrote this article in 2020, but since then it's become one of my most popular articles -- and one that needs to be updated the most frequently. Some businesses closed, some changed hands, some changed deals and some asked to be taken off the list altogether. Whenever your birthday is, be sure to check out this list again because there's a good chance it's been updated.

If you're looking for things to do in Regina on your birthday, there's a lot of options. However, there's nothing better than free things to do in Regina. From getting a free beer to a free ice cream to a free escape room, there's a lot of free stuff you can get -- some you can even get before or after your birthday too, which is neat.

So, what birthday freebies are there in Regina? The list is longer than you might think!

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7 Things You Didn't Know About Canada

I'm proudly Canadian, and I accept the fact that a lot of people know very little about my country. A lot of people also seem to think cities like Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver "define" Canada. Just to set it straight, while these are beautiful cities, they don't represent the whole of Canada.

Being such a quiet country, we often keep our secrets to ourselves... and often from ourselves. This is a list of 7 things you -- and maybe other Canadians -- don't know about Canada.

Editor's Note: if you liked this article, but want more than just seven items, here is my 150 Facts About Canada article.

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Trending Articles About the United States


Journey to Ted Bundy’s Cellar

There are three things Salt Lake City is known for: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Ted Bundy and skiing. Since we talked about the former already, and I'm no good at the latter, you can probably guess what this article is about.

From 1974 to 1978 Ted Bundy kidnapped, murdered and raped young women and girls across the United States. Between 1974 and 1975, he spent much of his time killing in Idaho, Utah, and Colorado, with his base being in Salt Lake City.

Bundy moved to Salt Lake City to attend the University of Utah Law School, and left his girlfriend Elizabeth Kloepfer in Seattle, Washington. However, he was not faithful to Kloepfer (besides the raping part) and would date at least a dozen other women while in Salt Lake City.

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What To Do in Historic Philadelphia

A few months ago I entered a contest for a trip for two to visit Philadelphia on Two Bad Tourists. Normally contests like this are limited to United States residents so when I saw this one was open to Canadians I jumped at the chance. I've never won something like this before, so I actually forgot about it until I got the emailing saying I had won. Two Bad Tourists then worked alongside Visit Philly to organise the trip for me and my mother to explore Philadelphia for three days. Visit Philly paid for our flights, hotels and gave us a VIP Pass to experience the city to our heart's content. It is thanks to them that this trip is possible.

Several movies and television shows have tried to capture the essence of Philadelphia over the years – from the boxing Blockbuster Rocky, to the paranormal thriller The Sixth Sense, to It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia and even Boy Meets World – but each described the city differently. There is no easy way to approach a city as dynamic as The City of Brotherly Love. With countless layers of art, history, religion and the paranormal, Philadelphia is a city unlike any other throughout the United States. 

One thing that surprised me the most about Philadelphia was the history. The city was founded and designed by William Penn, who is also the state of Pennsylvania's namesake. Born in London, England in 1644 he lived through The Great Fire of 1666 and The Great Plague of London from 1665-1666. Both events shaped Penn's life so he designed the city to be strictly stone buildings (to stop fires from spreading) and to have plenty of space between the buildings (as to prevent illness from spreading). This led to the older areas of the city to have winding corridors between old stone walls.

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The Haunting of Kay's Cross

If you're looking to visit the notorious Kay's Cross in Kaysville, Utah, you might be tempted to just wander down into the hollow and see it for yourself. However, the cross is on private property and the owners aren't a fan of trespassers. Legend says that the owners will shoot you if they catch you, but they told me they would just call the police instead.

Either way, access to the cross is $20 USD, or $28 CAD, and they only take cash. It's a much cheaper option than a trespassing fine or a trip to the hospital so I recommend this approach.

However, a lot of people still take the risk and visit the cross without permission. Kay's Cross – or the remains of Kay's Cross after it was mysteriously destroyed in 1992 – has become a beacon for the paranormal, both for investigators and for practicers alike. My guide told me that Satanists often visit the cross and perform rituals. Once, he even said he encountered a dark entity while down there.

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Trending Articles About Europe


Visiting Auschwitz

They say hope was the last thing to die in Auschwitz.

It's been just over 70 years since the Allies liberated the death camp and the horrors of the "Final Solution" were revealed to the world. Prior to their arrival, Auschwitz was the most effective death camp ever created, having taken the lives of over 1.1 million Jews.

Block 4 of Auschwitz holds the museum, explaining the best it can about what happened seven decades past. The museum explains what Auschwitz was originally built for – a camp for Polish prisoners of war – and how it became key to the Nazi's "Final Solution". The museum goes over the construction of Auschwitz I, Auschwitz II (Birkenau) and Auschwitz III (Monowitz), the increased sizes and effectiveness of gas chambers and the factories of death that stood and smoked over the camp during its operation.

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Lucerne

I am writing this from a jail-cell in Lucerne, Switzerland.

But don't worry; I'm not in trouble or anything. Tonight we get to sleep in the Jailhotel. Jailhotel is a hotel that was made out of an old jail (if you hadn't already guessed that). The rooms are small, cramped and have wooden, creaky floors. The only furniture in the room is two beds, a sink, and a single wooden chair. Behind me is a small barred window, high up on the wall. My writing light is one single lone bulb hanging from the ceiling. The illusion of sleeping in a jail cell would be complete, except for the portable bathroom over in the corner, with white towels, a shower and a toilet. Ignore that, however, and you feel like you're actually in jail.

We left the Flower City at quarter to 8 this morning. Flip told us to sit in the front of the coach if we wanted a good view as we entered the Swiss Alps. It wouldn't have really mattered though, because an hour into the drive everybody on the coach was fast asleep -- including me.

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The Statues of Piazza della Signoria

I'll never forget the first book I read by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. This novel, Brimstone, focuses on several businessmen who supposedly sold their soul to the devil to gain wealth and power. Things take a turn for the worst, however, when the businessmen begin to be killed off by some kind of demonic force. This thrilling mystery novel takes the heroes to Florence, Italy where they uncover something as dark as hell itself: the human soul.

I hadn't realized it while reading Brimstone, but Preston was actually writing two novels while living in Florence. While one was about a fictional devil, the other was about a real devil, "The Monster of Florence". The Monster killed for 17 years, and had almost twenty victims. He would kill lovers, mutilate the females and occasionally send pieces of them to the police. The Monster was never caught.

While living in Florence, Preston teamed up with Florencian journalist Mario Spezi, a man who had followed the killings since the beginning and knew more than anybody else about the Monster.  Together, the two journalists uncovered vast amounts of shady police work, missing evidence, unreliable witnesses, false testimonies, blatant accusations, innocent imprisonments, corrupted politics and Satanic rituals.

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Trending Articles About Peru


How (And Why) I Spent A Month in Peru

A week ago I returned to Canada after spending a month in Lima, Peru. I realized I did a terrible job explaining to people what I was doing down there for so long. A lot of people have asked about my "holiday" or "vacation", but I wouldn't call it either of those because it wasn't all that relaxing. 

As you know, in recent years, for a variety of reasons, working remotely has become very popular. In fact, I haven't had an office since 2018. Back then I was freelancing, and then in 2019, I was picked up to work remotely for a web development company. Although I am fully employed, my nine-to-five grind is from my apartment, not from an office.

But, it doesn't have to be. As long as I have a stable internet connection and get my work done, I can do my work just about anywhere in the world. In fact, last autumn I had to work out of both Dawson City and Whitehorse, Yukon. The mentality is that as long as I hit my deadlines and I can support my team, I can work anywhere. 

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Welcome to the Amazon: Monkey Island

During my recent trip to Peru, I had the opportunity to spend three days in the Amazon Rainforest.

This was the first trip of the program so the majority of people decided to opt-out and stay back in Lima. I understand that, as Lima is a beautiful city and most of us had just flown into it less than a week ago, but I wasn't willing to miss out on an opportunity of a lifetime. Although granted, the entire month was an opportunity of a lifetime.

Because only a few of us were on this trip, I ended up being the only male. I mention this because there was a bit of a mixup with the rooms and I was supposed to share a room with a woman. She wasn't totally cool with that, so I was upgraded to a single room. If you plan to make this trip, I recommend the single room over a shared room since the rooms are pretty small. (More on that later.)

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Welcome to the Amazon: Watch Your Step!

Our second day in the Amazon Rainforest was our only "full" day there. It was also our busiest. While yesterday's highlights were all about getting to Iquitos and experiencing La Isla de Los Monos, today was about seeing the plethora of flora and fauna the Amazon has to offer.

The day started with a delicious breakfast cooked by the folks at The Dolphin Lodge. It was here that Allen and Luis of Amazon Wonder Expeditions told us what the plan was for the day. The previous day, they told us not to wear bug repellent or sunscreen as we would have to wash it off before spending time with the monkeys. This time, though, since we'll be venturing deep into the rainforest, we were told to apply plenty of both.

After breakfast, we headed back down the path to the water and got on our boat. About thirty minutes later, we docked and walked into a small fishing village.

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Trending Articles About Asia


A Halloween Unboxing From Tokyo Treat

In celebration of Halloween, Jessica and I decided to continue last year's tradition and unbox a package from Tokyo Treat. For those unfamiliar, Tokyo Treat is a subscription box service that sends you Japanese candy every month to try at home. We have unboxed several of their packages in previous articles, including one from last Halloween, so we thought it would be fun to do it again.

This article, and companion video, is not sponsored by Tokyo Treat. We just like trying their handy and reviewing foreign food. They do have an affiliate program, but I chose not to join it as it isn't very lucrative – and I like being subjective and honest about my reviews.

This year they had another wide variety of Halloween-themed candy, from gum to chocolate to corn sticks. There were a few duplicates in the box this year when compared to the 2020s box, so while it was still good, I didn't like it as good as last year's box.

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Himeji

Today I woke up, and skipped the shower. I normally don't do that, but the lodge didn't have any warm water, except for the bath water from last night which, but that had long been drained.

I brushed up, did my hair and went down to the morning meditation service. During the service, each member of the group would ring an iron cauldron with a metal hammer. Then each person sprinkled some scented dust into the smoldering incense and asked Buddha for enlightenment.

After the service, we excited the lodge and walked a building down the street and participated in the fire ceremony. Unlike the calm chanting of the first service, this one involved an ever growing fire, with much louder chanting. But like the first service, we participated in this one as well. Each member of the group was given a piece of wood and we were to write one thing we wanted to improve on in our lives on it. We then handed it to the monks, and they burned them all together, sending our wishes into the universe.

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Hiroshima

Hiroshima did not disappoint.

(Editor's Note: If you wish to sign a petition to help make the future nuclear free, please check out The Atom Project. Thank you.)

After a quick, non-complimentary breakfast, we boarded the train from our hotel and rode it for about 20 minutes, arriving at the A-Bomb (as in Atomic Bomb) Dome. It was so incredible to see. Back in 1945, the building was a landmark of the city. It was a famous dance hall, where performances and shows would often take place. Now it's a landmark for a completely different reason. Now there are no cries of joys or folk music coming from the structure. There is nothing but a haunting quiet that hangs around the burnt, dilapidated stone structure. The structure demanded silence; as if speaking too loud would cause it to finally collapse.

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Christmas Gifts for the Traveller in Your Life

Is there a traveller in your life? Somebody who loves exploring new places, trying new foods, driving long distances for a picture and who will yammer on and on about their travels if you let them?

For the first time in Kenton de Jong Travel history I decided to put together a list of gifts you can get the traveller in your life. Many of these gifts I own, so I can testify that they are worth investing in.

Many of the links in this article are affiliate links, which means if you buy the products I recommend, I may get a little financial kickback.

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5 Incredible G Adventures Tours

Today is Blue Monday. For those who don't know what Blue Monday is, it's the third Monday in January after the holidays; or the most depressing day of the year. It's the day when all the Christmas baking runs out, all the presents start gathering dust, all the lights have been taken down and you come to the revelation that you are in the same unhappy situation you were one month ago, only this time there's no Santa Claus at the end of the month.

I was hit with the Blue Monday blues once too, a few years ago. I had been fired from one job I really enjoyed, and started working for somebody else who I just wasn't compatible with. There was a mounting personality conflict between me and my employer and after one Friday night phone call telling me I had to come back to the office and do more work, I decided I had had enough. I finished my project, filed my reports and left a note on my employer's desk that simply said "I quit". The following Monday I changed my phone number, blocked him on social media and walked away from that situation forever. A week later I had a new job at a place I liked, and life carried on.

So, when I say Blue Monday sucks, I mean it.

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My 2016 Adventures in Review

Unless something major happens within the next two weeks, it's probably safe to assume my travels for the year are over. At the beginning of the year the only adventure I had planned was a trip to Eastern Europe, but as the year went on I ended up going on several more adventures too.

Because so much has happened this year, I thought it would be a good idea to write it all down. I'm hoping 2017 will take me on even more adventures, as it will be Canada's 150th anniversary, but before we talk about 2017, let's go over what happened in 2016.

Although I arrived in Krakow first, my only full day in Poland was put aside for Auschwitz. It was pouring rain the whole way to the death camp, and the tour was packed full of students, teachers and tourists. While it was great that so many people still visiting the camp, there were almost too many people and it seemed to lessen the experience.

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