South America

Exploring Cusco on our first day at high altitude

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, 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.

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!

Exploring Cusco on our first day at high altitude
Exploring Cusco on our first day at high altitude

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!

Do not travel without Travel Insurance!

I highly recommend World Nomads, travel insurance oriented to travelers. Well detailed before the unexpected happens!

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…


By Gil Sousa

Portuguese expat in Cork, traveler and food enthusiastic.

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