Directly after coming back from the Colca Canyon, we jumped on another night bus, this time to Cusco, the Peruvian city most famous among backpackers. The reason: it is close to Machu Picchu! In Cusco, we met with Chris’ family as his parents had visited his brother David in Santiago de Chile and came over to Peru together.
It was really great to spend time with them and also have kind of a break from backpacking where we usually plan spontaneously. Josie, Chris’ mom, is really good at planning things, so we could lean back and enjoy our time. Thanks Josie!!!
One day after they arrived, the day we all had waited for was finally there: we were to start our tour to Machu Picchu! We were picked up at 3 am to drive to Ollantaytambo from where we took the nice panoramic train to Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu town). There, unfortunately chaos began as our tour agency probably was the least organized in the whole of Cusco… Still, we managed to finally arrive inside the site and also arrange our (actually prearranged) tour and could enjoy this once in a lifetime experience. The weather was amazing. It was extremely sunny during the whole day, even if this time of the year is supposed to be the rainy season… Therefore, we were able to take the most amazing pictures.
On the very informative tour of the site we learned a lot about the Inca civilization and especially their building skills. It was great to see that the different walls were build with different techniques depending on the importance of the building.
The temples were constructed in the most impressive style of neatly fitted stones. It is unbelievable how the Inca were able to do such things. During the free walking tour in Cusco, our guide showed us the clear difference between Inca and “Incapable ” (Spanish) walls…
Before the Machu Picchu tour however, we climbed Machu Picchu mountain. David and I managed to go all the way to the top and enjoyed a breathtaking but also quite scary view (the path was very narrow and we were standing on the edge of the mountain).
After the mountain (it was super exhausting by the way, even if the altitude is actually lower than Cusco) and the tour, we had some more time to relax and look around. We left around the closure time at 5 pm and were exhausted. We were on our feet for a whole day and only ate snacks as food costs extremely much at the site. Unfortunately, it rained heavily when we arrived with the train, so finding the bus was another tour agency nightmare. Back in Cusco, we collapsed into our beds. Luckily, our hostel Ukukus which also booked the tour, refunded some of the money. They turned out to be very good at reacting to their own shortcomings. When we told them that there were no good pans in the kitchen, they bought a complete set of new pots and pans. Still, the hostel was not too recommendable (mainly because of the cat smell everywhere…). Concerning Machu Picchu, I would recommend going without the tour agency but definitely with a guide onto the site for the great information.
After Machu Picchu, we were all a bit exhausted and partly sick, so we didn’t do too much. One of our main activities was visiting the San Pedro Market for delicious fruit and vegetables as well as Artesanía shopping. We also went to the (great!) Free Walking Tour e with Richard who spoke the best English of all Peruvian guides so far and knew all about Peru’s 4000 types of potatoes. Cusco really is a beautiful city, however the altitude makes breathing quite hard when walking uphill.
Chris and I then went out to find some place to dance. It was super crowded in the center and extremely loud fireworks still went off everywhere. Finally, we found a club where the entry was only 10 Soles (3 dollars) and not 150 like in a famous backpackers’ place. We were the only Gringos and one/two heads taller than everyone else but we really enjoyed ourselves. The only problem, dancing at an altitude of 3400 meters is really exhausting.
After four days together, Chris’ parents left for Lima and then Panama. Chris, David, who will travel with us until La Paz, and I still took three more days to relax and explore the area. With our Boleto, we also went to the ruins of Pisac (independently), the salt terraces of Maras, the Inca terrace laboratory of Moray (with a tour) and some museums in Cusco. Even though Machu Picchu was definitely the highlight, all those places were really nice and worth checking out. And again, we were lucky with the weather: bright sunshine in Moray and Maras and in Pisac, the thunderstorm hit the next valley while we only had a few raindrops.
Moray and Maras:
The rest of our time, we chilled at the hostel, cooked nice food and tasted food outside. On a gastronomic fair, we even tasted guinea pig, the local favourite. It tasted alright, even though this picture makes it look quite cruel (and pretty hilarious…)
After a great week in this beautiful city where we really needed our Alpaca sweaters for the first time on this trip (it gets really cold at night), we are off to our next adventure: Lake Titicaca and Bolivia, here we come. More from there soon and a belated happy new year to all of you!