Explore Cusco, Peru

Tuesday, January 17

Travel Peru

Last week I mentioned that 10 years ago my husband and I adventured on our first backpacking trip. In the upcoming weeks I will be sharing some photos from our trip; not for the purpose of saying “hey look at where we have been”, but to share the beauty available for all of us to explore. Who knows, perhaps it may get you thinking of planning your first trip! (hint, hint!)

Traveling Peru

I have to admit, prior to our trip, I honestly never thought of backpacking, let alone travel Peru. I knew nothing about Peru, and frankly, I really can’t say I had much interest in going there. (I’m ashamed in admitting that!)

Our primary reason for travelling Peru was to explore Machu Picchu, and Cusco was the point of departure for this excursion.

Our Travelling Route

At that time, international flights departing Winnipeg were quite pricey. Even with the exchange rate (our Canadian dollar was better then than it is today), it made most sense to depart from Minneapolis, MN. Below is the route we took to get us to Peru.

  • We were dropped off at the Fargo Bus Station
  • Took the bus from Fargo to Minneapolis, MN (stayed the night)
  • Departed Minneapolis for Lima, Peru (10 hour flight)
  • Stayed the night at the Lima airport until our morning flight
  • Departed Lima for Cusco, Peru (just over an hour flight)
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Lima Airport

Cusco, Peru

I won’t ever forget when we approached the Cusco Airport, the plane maneuvered around the hills and landed in the middle of the city (as shown in the link); it was a strange feeling, and yet so awe-striking.

CULTURE SHOCK

Arriving in Cusco was a bit of culture shock. Traffic noise, the smell (fumes from all the vehicles) and organized chaos, combined with fatigue –  it was all a bit overwhelming.  Unless you are given some warning in advance, there is some vulnerability when you travel somewhere for the first time. You may be taken advantage, as the locals know a tourist when they see one and what they see is money.

Prior to leaving for our trip I had booked our first nights accommodation. (I highly recommend this, so you don’t have to worry about it when you arrive.)  When we arrived we got a taxi to take us to our hotel. Naturally he highly recommended a different place. We didn’t know what to do. Could we trust the guy? He was so persistent, and yet nice, so we obliged.  and he took us to the hotel he recommended. (I don’t recommend you do this; stick with your original plan!) Fortunately, it turned out just fine for us, but that isn’t always the case. The owners of the hotel didn’t speak any english, but with some hand gestures (and smiles) we were able to get checked into our room.

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Lonely Planet’s book on Peru was our travel bible.

ALTITUDE SICKNESS

Given that Cusco is 11,151 feet above sea level, there is a change in elevation which may cause one to experience symptoms of altitude sickness such as nausea, shortness of breath, fatigue, headaches, among others. When we went walking that day it didn’t take long before we would experience shortness of breath, so we just took it easy as recommended. (Many drink coca tea or chew on coca leaves to prevent altitude sickness.)

EXPLORING CUSCO

The plan was to explore Cusco for a few days to adapt to the altitude before venturing out on our Machu Picchu hike.

The following are some of our photos showing the intricate workmanship, colonial architecture and the culture discovered in Cusco. (After this trip I knew it was time to invest in a good camera!)

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Travel Peru

Travel Peru

Basilica Cathedral – built in 1560

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Travel Peru

Travel Peru

The Cristo Blanco – The statue that can be seen across the city.

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First time I ever felt tall!

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View from our hotel room

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The Inca architecture can be found throughout Cusco. The above photo is the 12 Angled Stone Inca Wall, which the Inca’s built with precision. As seen in the photos below, the windows are all lined up perfectly, and the photo below it has the tiniest stone perfectly cut for its space.

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Travel Peru

The photo below saddens me. Here we have this massive church with the inside detailing with gold, only to have the hungry perched outside of it. This reality of our world breaks my heart every time.

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Travel Peru

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What could possibly sit behind these secured doors?! The number of locks on this door are quite peculiar!

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Arco de Santa Clara

Exploring the markets is always intriguing, as it’s an opportunity to discover more of the culture and it’s people. When reading up on the San Pedro Market, there was warning to be careful for pickpocketing. We didn’t encounter any issues, but this is something you have to be on the lookout for no matter where you go.

The market was a bit shocking to walk into. An assortment of meat hanging and meat laid out on tables at room temperature made for a ‘smelly’ market, thus cutting our visit short.

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Cusco Market

The photo below points to how cheap it was to eat in Cusco. Sean was in his glory when he could buy a 1/4 chicken with fries for only $7 Sol, which now would be $2.73 Cdn.
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Travel Peru

Travel Peru

Our Peru Lonely Planet book was with us at all times!

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These ladies wanted their photo taken with me (of course for a fee). However, the cute little girls above, with their adorable puppies, also wanted to be in the photo (so they too can get money), leaving a heated argument between the ladies and the little girls.

This was our first stop, and after exploring Cusco, we began to realize how much we underrated Peru.   The places to explore our numerous, and to top it off, it’s affordable!

If you are starting to think that taking a backpacking trip may just be possible for you, you’re right! Start planning! You may find “Planning Your First Backpacking Trip” helpful.

There are so many great places to see. Check out Annie Daly of BuzzFeed’s “27 Epic Adventures Worth Taking in Your Twenties.”  Don’t worry if you’re not twenty anymore – age doesn’t matter when you’re traveling!

Come back for next week’s post where I will be sharing photos from our trek to Machu Picchu!

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photo from BuzzFeed

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