We decided to go to Peru spontaneous and we had only 3 weeks to prepare. We went there in April, when started dry season, but still was rainy. We love wildlife so we wanted go to jungle and of course we wanted to see popular Lost City of Incas – Machu Picchu. During our 9 day trip in Peru, we spent 4 night in Cusco and 4 night in Tambopata (jungle).
First day we spent in Cusco, beautiful small city, with high elevation so you need to take medication. Elevation is 3,400 m (11,200 ft) and you really feel it. So be ready that you will need also painkillers for headache.
We stayed in Espendor Hotel in the Historic Centre. Nice hotel with breakfast from 5 am, surprisingly early. But if you want tours, you need breakfast even around 3-4am.
First day we went for stroll and walked around the Plaza de Armas de Cusco. Area is beautiful and there is lot of restaurants and cafes. We ate lunch in Morena Peruvian Kitchen (http://morenaperuviankitchen.com/). We are vegetarian so before we choose restaurant we have to check that will be something for us. We wanted to find Peruvian vegetarian traditional meal. We were happy with food and pisco. If you are in Peru do not miss Peruvian drink – “Pisco sour” – lemon juice, egg white, Pisco and simple syrup.
We also bought Touristic Ticket of Cusco for 10 days, including 16 touristic places. The cost is 130 soles/person (about 40$). You can choose different ticket depend on what do you want see. Other tickets don’t include all places. More information you can find here: touristic ticket
If you will buy tours check what is included, sometimes you will need to buy Touristic Ticket to go to Sacred Valley: Morey, Ollantaytambo etc.
Evening we again were back to Plaza de Armas de Cusco and went to Cappuccino Cusco Café and took coffees with Peruvian cakes. The view from balcony was amazing during evening. There is lot of people on plaza but still is so quite.
After we were back to hotel we took appointment with travel agent (from our hotel) because we didn’t have bought tours to Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu and Rainbow Mountains. You don’t have to buy tours. You can do it by yourself and we should do the same. We paid total around 690$ for both of us. Agent said that it will be good quality tours in English not more that 15 people.
Second day we woke up at 4 am to go to Sacred Valley. Sacred Valley is an Inca Valley and is called sacred because has the best land in the region. At first we had tour of 20 people and guide talk around 20 min in Spanish. It wasn’t what we booked and called agent to cancel. Finally he offered private tour and only in English. This was really good and we did lot of stuff. We visited home where they introduced us to culture and show how they make clothes, colored the wool from alpaca and lama. This was interesting how they use natural shampoo and colors from nature.
Next we went to Sacred Valley to Morey. Morey is “laboratory” of agriculture. Incas produced lot kinds of potatoes and each kind had some attributes for our health. We heard lot of stories how Inkas chose place using sun and have potatoes like medications.
Interesting place is Maras – salt mine. This is not like we use to see. They are thousands of shallow pools filled with salt water from mountain and contains salt already. They are practicing this method from many centuries. You can walk the narrow salted paths between the terraces for 10 soles (about $3 entrance fee). You can also buy small bag of salt. We bought rose salt like they said the best quality. Salt is fortified with iodine. People whose are working there are members of the local communities.
After Salineras de Maras we visited Ollantaytambo. Ollantay is from general’s name and tambo means luxury hotel all inclusive. This city was royal estate of Emperor Pachacuti. You can see Temple Hill with Sun Temple and terraces. To reach temple you have lot of stairs… Impressive are also storage buildings so important for city to survive if year wasn’t good for agriculture.
Our guide took us to Pisac, but we didn’t check ruins only market because that day was really rainy. He showed us nice place when we could try bread from big oven.
In second day we woke up at 2 am., yes 2 am to see famous Machu Picchu. We had transfer from hotel to train and it took about 45min. We had book, by travel agent, PeruRail. You can find other trains too, offering snack and drink on the way. Prices are varied, when we checked for round trip for both was around 310$ (bus from Cusco and train from Ollantaytambo). If you will book by yourself note that train is to Aguas Calientes and from here you will need bus to the top (cost around 24$ return ticket). It takes about 20min. For train you need to be 30min before departure. Be ready with your passport on train station and bus station.
Of course you can choose also hike to Machu Picchu and then you need at least two days and longer are about 4 days to cover trail. We chose reach there by bus and trail to save some time.
Departure of bus is depend on your admission time. You will see lines with time – time on your entrance ticket to Machu Picchu. You can go inside exactly at your booking time. We were early before 8am and took hot coffee and quiche in restaurant near entrance. View was amazing with all this clouds and we couldn’t wait to see ruins.
When you are buying admission ticket you can choose time and what else do you want to see. You can also hike Machu Pichcu Mountain with around 1000 stairs or Huayna Picchu. Huayna Picchu is very popular and you need too book in advance. We couldn’t book so chose Machu Picchu mountain. But when we entered ruins we saw lot of clouds and view from top the ruins was enough for us. We didn’t go up and enjoy Machu Picchu. We didn’t take guide but even if you didn’t book before tour there are always guides near entrance offering service. For us Machu Picchu was impressive. Just see how they built and put together big block of stones. Do you know that ruins city has condor shape? There is Condor temple, an impressive temple dedicated to one of the largest birds in the world. We took some break at the top and just enjoyed. We came there before high season so there were no too many people. You can find lamas. They are brought specially for tourists to make more attractive this place. We agree it looks nice with them.
Third day we canceled our Rainbow Mountain Hike. We decided that we don’t want spend 3,5 hr in bus in one way and then you have only 3h to go up and down. It is 5000 m so even elevation make you more tired. Second reason was weather, because still was raining. During rain trail is slippery and is not good visibility of mountain and colors. We spent relaxing time in Cusco. We went to Sacsayhuamán – the historic capital of the Inca Empire. This place is on top of hill. We went by walk to have some activities, but also you can take a taxi. You can use your tourist ticket to enter. Close buy is White Jesus statue on the hill.
Next we went down and enjoy historic center. We really liked Plaza de Armas de Cusco. Really you should stay for lunch or dinner in one of their restaurant with balcony.