Cusco Travel Blog

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We arrived in Cusco bright and early in the morning after our overnight bus ride from Arequipa. Sam, Sandy and myself took up residence in a hostel we had booked in advance, and Ryan and Liz got a room at another place as ours had since become full. I stayed in my first dorm room of the trip, which was a four bed room, but there was only one other guy staying there so we had plenty of space to ourselves.

My first impressions of Cusco were interesting. The streets are narrow, hilly, and very old. Many of the names of the streets are the original Incan names back from when Cusco was the capital of the Incas. The historical look to the place gives it a lot of uniqueness and character.

As we were walking around checking out the centre of Cusco a few of us were talking and we mentioned that Mark and Vanessa - who we had previously met up with in Quito - were meant to be in Cusco around that time. Only about a minute or two later I looked across the road from the main cathedral to see Mark and Vanessa standing on the road with their big packs on. We all met up and agreed on a place for lunch that Lonely Planet had recommended. A bit later we went up to the apparant restaurant only to discover it had since closed down! We had lunch elsewhere minus Mark and Vanessa who ended up having a similar experience trying to find our meeting point.

The one thing we had to do in Cusco was to pay the balance of our Inca Trail booking. The company we went with was Peru Treks, and they cleverly make you pay the balance in person at least two days before the hike so that they know you have somewhat acclimatised to the altitude, as Cusco is at about 3300m. Our first problem was that Peru Treks had recently moved office so Lonely Planet again proved out of date and we had to find the new one. We wandered around Cusco for about 20 minutes until we found an open wifi spot that our iPhones could sneak into to get the address. We got to the office, paid the balance, and then were given a 20 minute rundown on the Inca Trail from one of our two guides. It gave us heaps of information and the chance to ask questions.

We also saw that Peru Treks did a day tour of the nearby Sacred Valley. The five of us had actually booked to go on the Inca Trail with Ruth (from our Ecuador adventures) and three of her friends - Ruth (not the same Ruth!), Lee and Tam. We hadn't caught up with them by the time we paid our balance at Peru Treks, so we decided to do that first before booking the Sacrey Valley tour so they might come along.

The next day we hadn't managed to catch up with Ruth and Co., so we went on our own to the Peru Treks office to book the Sacrey Valley tour. Lo and behold we walk in just as they are paying for their Inca Trail balance! They were not up for the Sacred Valley tour so us five just booked it ourselves. That night we had a big group dinner as the Inca Trail nine plus Mark and Vanessa, which involved many a travel story and many a glass of wine.

Our final day in Cusco was going on the Sacred Valley tour. We saw a lot of really great scenery and climbed up the impressive ruins at Ollantaytambo, but the tour was overall a bit of a letdown. Too much of the tour was focused on spending money - going to markets, stopping off at a random antiques store, having a DVD hawked on the bus, and paying a ridiculous price for lunch. The group were mostly fairly older than us so it just kind of felt like we were the wrong market for what they were offering. I would still recommend a Sacred Valley tour, just probably for people like myself I would rather it more sights oriented.

After returning rather late from the Sacred Valley we bought some garbage bags and took all the things out of our backpacks that we did not need for the next few days and stowed them at the hostel. All thoughts were now on the one huge thing we were most excited to do on our South American adventures... the four day Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.
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photo by: Vlindeke