Exploring Cusco city and a tour around it surroundings

Exploring Cusco city and a tour around it surroundings

Time for wake up in Lima, early according to Peruvian time, normal time according to our brains…, packing the very few stuff we had unpacked, leaving stuff behind that we didn’t need (not my case, but some old trainers were left behind by someone not me). And ready for Cusco!

Arriving in Cusco

Arriving in Cusco, the first altitude effects…, seriously, this isn’t bullshit nor a myth, it is something real! The moment I left the plane I felt dizzy, difficulty to breath and I start panic out…, I never felt like that, and the biggest problem was that I knew I couldn’t control it. Panic!

Well, but we had to do our stuff, and arriving in Cusco without a hostel booked, nor anything planned we had to do something. We took the first taxi that seemed to be safe enough, at the airport only official taxis can park so it isn’t that hard to get a safe taxi. And sometimes, that also has its advantages, in our case the taxi driver was a tourist organizer or something alike. Apparently this isn’t that strange, our taxi driver in Lima had also deals for tourists and planned excursions.

Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption of the Virgin in Cusco
Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption of the Virgin in Cusco

Well, according to Tajana’s book, which I totally recommend – Frommer’s -, we asked the taxi driver to go to some hostel, but according to him we had to walk a bit uphill because cars can’t go to that road, so he recommended another hostel. Obviously… He also helped us with several organized excursions, which we accepted. No plans for Cusco, so now we have several! We won with that, he obviously won with that, a lot… And it was in between talks about tours and excursions that we had our first Mate de Coca! Naturally sweet and tasty! I like it a lot!

According to the taxi driver, the books, the several articles I read, the testimonials on traveler’s websites, etc, we should rest the first day in Cusco to let our body adapt to the altitude, and obviously we did that…, or maybe not…, we really walked a lot to find where we should go in the next day to buy the sightseeing joint ticked for Cusco and surroundings. We had a light lunch, just soup with Pisco Sour as a starter, on a very nice restaurant which we also had dinner in that same day…, mostly because the city was infested of American teenagers and it was harder to find a quiet place. That one was good for lunch, and even better for dinner!

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After dinner…, bed time! Such babies, going to bed around 9pm…, and I wish I had a baby-night as well, but the noise during the dawn was fucking unbelievable! Brazilian bikers being really loud since 5am or so next to the breakfast area, which was also next to our bedrooms… Also, that night was a bit cold, at least for me…

A tour around Cusco’s surroundings

So our day in Cusco started horribly…, it is SOOO annoying when you wake up with other people making noise! What a huge lack of respect towards other people, Brazilian people having breakfast and being really loud, the people in the next room with an alarm beeping every 10 minutes, during more than one hour. What an awful way to start a day!

Breakfast, not so loud, and then going straight to buy the Cusco Tourist Ticket, buying some souvenirs and another walk through the city center, mostly around Plaza de Armas, and then a very NOT relaxing lunch before the excursion! Damn, we really had to eat fast because we didn’t go earlier to the restaurant…, I think we ate a pasta dish in around 10 minutes, that was bad. But worst was gathering the people who joined that excursion, that was disorganization! Even some people were missing, and waiting some time for the bus, etc…, some waiting time that we could have used for a more relaxing lunch…

Exploring Cusco city and a tour around it surroundings
Exploring Cusco city and a tour around it surroundings

The first stop, was still in Cusco, for the three of us was the Museum of the Temple of the Qoricancha while the rest of the group went to Convent of Santo Domingo which we had to pay a fee to get in…, well, we didn’t care that much about churches so we used our free time for the Museum, which was quite interesting!

The second stop (now it will be harder to say if if was the second or the third, but I’ll try to mention all of them) was the Archaeological Park of Sacsayhuaman, or how some tourists say (according to the guide), Sexy Woman…, this is probably one of the most important archeological site for the Peruvians, its history is amazing and shocking, imagine what the conquerors didn’t do there…

Despite the high altitude, 3701 meters, I am still in shape to run, due the limited time we had to enjoy the place, and visit the other side of the archeological site! The same I can’t say about my fellow travelers, cof cof… Age is catching up with them! And then…, the first of many choclos…, no more corn…, please…, the put corn in everything, apparently they have around 500 different species of corn just in the Sacred Valley…

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The stop after that was Tambomachay (the order of my photos is helping to find which were the stops), again we didn’t spend that much time there. We heard an explanation about the place, at least the guide was really fun and clear with his explanations, but we didn’t have enough time to enjoy none of the places where we have been.

Then another short stop in Puca Pucara, the Red Fort. We had ticket for this place, but no one was there to control it…

After Puca Pucara, the stop before the last one, Qenko. This place was quite interesting, if I am not mistaken, there are several theories about that place, one as a mortuary place and another one as a surgery room. Apparently, the Incas were quite advanced regarding curative technology. This room is placed under a massive rock, with a path in S through that same rock. We went there already at nightfall, therefore the light wasn’t the best and the place at that time seems quite scary.

View of Tambomachay Ruins
View of Tambomachay Ruins

And after that, we went to a Alpaca factory,  obviously the main intent was to sell, but there we learn how to differentiate between Alpaca, Alpaca baby and synthetic fiber. The best part was when we left the place, where a kid was selling postcards… with our photo!!! The guy took a photo of us at the first stop, still in Cusco, and he tries to sell us a postcard at the last stop! Damn, they really try to sell everything!

Then back to Cusco, time for dinner at a pizzeria (very traditional…) where we ate Ceviche! This is very traditional, and can be really delicious! The best ones I had it was next to the beach, but that’s a story for another post! At that restaurant, the best was definitely the dessert! Oh gosh, we really considered going there again just for the dessert! Was really good! After an amazing ending, back to the hostel and sleep, a bit later than the two days before…, at 10pm…

Where is Cusco?

Cusco is in the in the south of Peru, right at the heart of the Andes mountains at 3399 meters altitude. Somewhere between Lima and Arequipa.

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By Gil Sousa

Portuguese expat in Cork, traveler and food enthusiastic.

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