Peru is a beautiful country known for its vast landscape and extensive mountains. Cusco is a city in Peru which is surrounded by mountains. I stayed in a hotel at the top of the hill so I got the best views of Cusco from my room.
I flew from Chicago to Lima and Lima to Cusco. The city of Cusco was cold and I was not prepared for the weather. It was the end of May and the weather was about 40F. Cusco is a city surrounded by mountains therefore, the weather made a lot of sense to me after I arrived in the city.
Note to self: Extensive research on weather is necessary prior to visiting a new destination.
What is the best time to travel in Peru?
You can visit Peru all year round but the best time is during the dry season, the dry season starts from May – October. This is the time when you can hike and participate in other activities comfortably.
Below is an outline of how I spent 5 days in Cusco, Peru.
Exploring the city
When I arrived in Cusco, I spent the first day exploring the city. I went shopped for handmade sweaters and ponchos in a market in Cusco because of the weather. The clothes were very affordable and the quality was great.
After visiting the markets, I also ate at Cusco city center. I tried to use my debit card to withdraw money from the ATM at the city center but my bank blocked the transaction. I called them and I was told that Peru is a “high risk” country. The bank has to verify that I was making the transaction and my card was unblocked.
Market in Cusco
A note on Cusco’s altitude
The altitude at Cusco affected my breathing. Cusco is a whopping 11,152 ft above the sea level. I did not get used to this till about my 3rd day in the city. I was told Coca leaves help with altitude sickness therefore, I tried some to help with my sickness. It tasted quite funny and I don’t think it helped me much.
The tour officially started on my second day in Cusco. I joined 2 other travelers and we visited the following places:
Museo Municipal- which is the museum of contemporary arts in Cusco.
Quenqo- A temple which is 15 minutes’ drive away from Cusco. Quenqo was used for body embalming.
It was believed that this stone table was used to embalm dead bodies.
Sacsayhuaman which is an archaeological site which used to be a fortress. The fortress was said to have the capacity to hold 1000 warriors but it is said that this was not necessary because the Incas rarely got invaded by enemies.
Ruins of the fortress
Finally, we visited the Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of the Assumption- also known as the Cusco Cathedral which is located in the city center.
The tour guide at flashpacker connect came to get me at the hotel around 4am. We met up with a small group, and took the train to Machu Picchu Village. From the village, we took the bus to Machu Picchu. The bus ride was very scenic. The tour company got tickets to get into Machu Picchu and train ride passes for the ride from Cusco to Machu Picchu Village prior to the day of the tour.
Machu Picchu is one of the wonders of the world
There were a lot of people at Machu Picchu as expected.
The mountains around Machu Picchu, and the views of Machu Picchu from the peak made the hike memorable. Apparently, Machu Picchu is shaped like a candle. After the hike, we headed to Machu Picchu village for food, shopping and to catch the train heading back to Cusco.
I got a Machu Picchu stamp in my passport after visiting the site.
I also tried the local beer in Machu Picchu village
How to prepare before going to Machu Picchu
- Wear comfortable clothes. I wore a pair of jeans with gym shoes and I was fine. I wore a sweater which I had to take off because it was hot at the peak.
- Take coins because the bathroom at Machu Picchu is not free.
- Take a water bottle.
- Wear comfortable shoes.
- Take lots of pictures ☺
Machu Picchu Village
After hiking Machu Picchu, we took the bus back to the Machu Picchu village to explore. I bought some souvenirs from the market in the village and also had lunch. The group then took the train back to Cusco and the bus back to our hotels.
Shopping for souvenirs in Machu Picchu village
The Sacred Valley of the Incas
On the 4th day, the tour took myself and a new group of people to the sacred valley of the Incas. The valley is very beautiful and definitely a sight to see.
Sacred Valley of the Incas
Heading to Pisac
We headed to the Pisac agricultural terraces which is located in the Sacred Valley. The terrace reminded me of the pictures I had seen of the rice terraces in Bali. The terrace was used to produce food for Pisac town. Due to the small population of Pisac, there was surplus food therefore the extra was sent to Cusco’s larger population.
Pisac Agricultural Terrace
Pisac Village for Souvenirs- We continued the tour by heading to Pisac village to explore the market after viewing the agricultural terrace.
Kids from Pisac Village in colorful outfits
Urubamba and Ollantaytambo
The group visited a restaurant at the village of Urubamba after Pisac. Lunch was delicious and the views were amazing. We headed to Ollantaytambo to hike the fortress in the town. The fortress is supposedly shaped like a mammal. I could not hike all the way to the top because I was so tired at that point. I decided to explore the market in the town instead.
Lunch in Urubamba
The fortress in Ollantaytambo is shaped like these two animals.
Rainbow Mountain Hike
My experience at the Rainbow Mountain was challenging because I had to leave the hotel around 2am so that we could take the bus to the Rainbow Mountain. The experience was amazing and I met some fun people on this tour. Breakfast was served prior to the hike and the meal was prepared by one of the chefs from Flashpacker Connect.
I rented a horse and this beautiful creature made the hike easier.
After breakfast, the group headed to the rainbow mountain trail. I rented a horse to help with the hike. Horses can be rented at the entrance of rainbow mountain. The horse helped a lot because the hike would have been exhausting without the beautiful animal helping me out. Rainbow Mountain’s summit was cloudy but I was still able to get some amazing pictures.
Beautiful views from the hike
5 days in Peru ended so quickly. I was having such an amazing time taking in the sights, mountains and enjoying the markets that I did not want to leave. I would definitely visit Cusco again in the future and I highly recommend the visit for adventure lovers.
For people who are wondering if a tour is necessary in Cusco, I would say yes. It is very difficult to travel to Machu Picchu and the rainbow mountain without using a tour company and the cars/buses they have available.
Flashpacker connect’s website is www.flashpackerconnect.com
My trip to Peru was not sponsored by the company and I paid for my tour.
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