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Published: November 4th 2015
Cathedral Plaza de Armas
Cuzco was once the capital of the Inca empire and is now the base for trekking to Machu Picchu, the sacred valley or the many archaeological sites around the area. How I got there:
I got dropped off by Peru hop at the inka bus station and then taxi'd to the hostel. I arrived at about 6pm. Where I stayed:
Pariwana hostel large dorm (10 bed) S/.35 & after the backpackers dorm (14 bed) S/.29.
My 1st dorm was on the 3rd floor & I could just about hear music from the ba. After returning from my trek the 1st floor dorm was normally really quiet & I could only hear the music 1 night.
The showers were hot, toilets were cleaned eeveryday, bins usually a couple of times. There's activities everyday, TV room, Internet lounge & a chill out patio. Not a party hostel like the wild rover but good to be able to sleep after being social! What I did:
(this could get long!) Day 1:
Being one of the lucky ones not to suffer altitude sickness I decided to find myself a trek to Machu Picchu & ended up walking around half
1 of the artists at expo
the city looking at different agents. After debating over the Salkantey or the Inca Jungle trails I decided I was to lazy/broken to do 5 days solid trekking & picked the much more fun sounding Inca Jungle. I also ended up going back to the very 1st agent I went to called Inka time, who my brother had used when he trekked 6yrs ago! It set me back $240! so I had to go take a lie down haha!
No I decided to just chill out & catch up on my blog / upload photos to facebook whilst watching the karaoke in the bar.... it was horrendous & I have never heard someone murder Bohemian Rhapsody so soundly before!! Jonah & Annie couldn't understand how I could write with so much noise going on around haha. Day 2:
Having given myself another day to check out the city & relax I took a wander to find there was an Expo of local arts from San Francisco plaza, down the street toward Plaza de Armas (main square). This ranged from sculptures of metal & clay to cakes portraying Alice in wonderland, origami art, local music & paintings. Continuing
to the main square there were local artisans from San Blas selling their handmade goods. It's probably a good thing I had no room in my rucksack else I'd have spent far too much money! I did buy a pair of earrings though for S/.10.
After returning to the hostel I met with Annie & Jonah so we decided to take a walk around the city before getting some dinner. We found a random side market which had alpacas on a tiny patch of grass & I got an Inca cross bracelet S/.10. For dinner we went to a smart restaurant up calle triunfo, which was just off the main square, where we shared 2 starters, I had alpaca and a water & it cost just over S/.30.
It was an early night for Day 3 -6:
Inca Jungle Trek & Machu Picchu! - I've given this it's own blog as it was super long haha. Day 7:
So I arrived back at the hostel last night to find notices declaring that there would be a city strike today & they sure know how to strike as the entire city was shut
Random Llama market
down bar a few laundrettes & the hostels. It was Pauls (from the trek) birthday today & as a group we were going to get him a cake & go for dinner but with everywhere closed & it being about midday we decided to head to the wild rover, where he was staying, to start the celebrations & get some food. It was a super chilled out day after our trek & it was nice just to talk to people before partying on at the 80s night in wild rover before heading to Temple bar in the town. I got home about 4:30am with Elsa & Malin after we dropped Matilda off at her hostel. Day 8:
Another day of strikes so another day where plans were put on hold mostly. Luckily Jin had messaged me the day before so we organised to meet up today & catch up on all we'd done since separating in Huaraz. Meeting at the main square we watched the protests for a while - I agree that the archaeological sites shouldn't be sold off to private owners - with this being a new experience for Jin as they don't protest in
Night time celebration
China. We then took a walk around the city to chat before finding around 2:30/3pm the shops started opening today so I went to book a tour to the Sacred valley & Moray & Maras for the next few days I had in Cuzco. Day 9:
Back to sightseeing today after a couple of lazy days with a trip around the Sacred Valley - S/.25. I got picked up at my hostel at 8.10am & walked to San Fransisco Plaza where we were separated into our tours & English/only Spanish speaking. On the bus we headed to the town of Pisac with a quick halfway pit stop at some local craft stalls. When we reached Pisac we got a talk in one of the silver jewellery factories on how they make the jewellery & inlays along with how to spot fake silver (not so easy when you haven't got both to compare!). Then we got a short while to look around the shop / town market but having no space in my bag I just stayed & chatted to a guy called David who had the same problem.
We then headed to the archaeological site of Pisac where we needed to purchase our "Boleto Turistico" before heading in. The partial ticket lasts 2 days & is S/.70 or the general ticket lasts 10days but costs S/.130, I bought the general ticket as I had 3 days to do sight-seeing in/around Cuzco.
Pisac has huge farming terraces & a burial site & we had about 40mins after a talk from our guide to explore the site which was quite interesting.
Next on to Urabamba for lunch which was S/.30 and not that fantastic if I'm honest, before heading to Ollantaytambo about 30mins away. Ollantaytambo was a central site in the sacred valley with a sun temple, water temple and a military guard post. It was also explained how the stone had a pink hue as it was brought over from the next mountain due to the rock on the site being hollow. There is a face in the mountain opposite & also an example of Inca refrigeration! The town has a market of handicrafts and when returning to the bus I got a freshly squeezed orange juice for S/.3.
Our final stop was at the town of Chincherro, where an Inca site had a colonial church built over the top of it but you can tell the Inca ruins from the stone work. We had an explanation about the church (no photos allowed inside) & then headed into the town to meet some local weavers. Here they explained the different sources of natural colours they use to dye the alpaca wool, how they clean it, dye it, dry it & finally weave it into the garments they then sell. We got a small cup of coca tea during the demonstration & then had the opportunity to buy some items before getting back on to the bus & driving back to Cuzco.
We arrived in Cuzco about 7.30pm. Day 10:
A shorter tour today as I headed out to see Moray & Maras S/.25 but the same start time as the sacred valley tour. Once again I got picked up at the hostel & taken to the square before being put on buses. It was good that David was also doing this tour today & another lad from Essex who I've forgotten the name of. On the way to Moray we stopped again at Chincherro for the same talk as we'd received the night before but this time I did buy an alpaca wristband for S/.5.
Onwards to Moray and about 5 mins out I got a nosebleed! David thought I'd headbutted the seat in front but it just randomly started. Thankfully I had some tissue & I got given more by other passengers & the guide as it was pouring out! Once at Moray we got an explanation on the site, which was used for agricultural experimentation by the Incas with the terraces differing by around 10 degrees top to bottom. We then could walk around the site but you are not allowed on the terraces due to erosion. My nose mostly stopped bleeding halfway round about 30mins after it started but I must admit I did feel a bit light headed after all being above 3000m probably isn't the best place to lose blood!
After Moray it was a short drive to the Salt Mines of Maras, this is an extra S/.10 as it is privately owned. We hopped off the bus and walked down for an explanation about the different salts that are found here - Pink salt, crystal & fine salt which are found in layers in the pools based on density. We also tasted some seasoning & chocolate they made with the salt. The salt levels in the water here are higher than the sea at about 60%!((MISSING)if I remember right). We then had time for photos & a walk around to see the workers harvesting the salt & get views across the river Willacamayu (sacred river).
Back on the bus to drive back to Cusco & we arrived back at 2:30pm. As it was a nice day I used the afternoon to go take some nicer photos in the main square & booked my bus ticket to Puno for tomorrow. Day 11:
My last day I Cuzco 😞 I had booked a city ruins tour S/.15 to start at 1pm so spent the morning packing & chilling around the hostel. I got picked up at 1pm & taken to one of the other plazas in town. Once the group was assembled it was explained we'd 1st be walking to the museum of Qoricancha in town & it was at this point I realised I had a Spanish speaking guide only... this was going to be testing!
The Qoricancha museum is an Inca temple that the Spanish built over but some items remain. There are examples of doorways, how the blocks were fitted so tightly together & a corridor of windows which the sun would have shone through reflected from a gold disc. I also found another couple who had been expecting an English speaking guide so not sure what had happened today.
After we walked to the bus to take us to Saqsayhuama(?) which was the head of the Puma when the Incas built Qosqo, to represent the earth (Pachamama). It also has a temple of the moon where a indentation was used to observe the constellations when filled with water. Unfortunately it started to pour with rain here & I had stupidly packed my jacket in my luggage!
Next we headed on up to Q'enqo a site used for sacrifices in a cave to the underworld (serpent) there is also a rock here which when illuminated by the sun it looks like a pumas face but we didn't see this.
On up to Tambomachay which is another temple of water, used for purification rituals & just over the road was Pukapukara.
On the way back into town we stopped at a shop where we saw/touched the difference between real alpaca/ baby alpaca & synthetic fakes. We also got the opportunity to purchase items but they were way over what you could get in town (unless that's all fake of course!). We got back to Cuzco centre about 6:30.
Back at the hostel I saw Blake & Aaron who I thought had left Cuzco before so I went for dinner with them at Green Point a vegan restaurant on San Fransisco Plaza.
Later we had a sad goodbye as Blake headed to Copacabana, I went Puno & Aaron stayed in Cuzco. I was sad to be leaving Cuzco as I'd met some great people here but it's time to continue with the adventure!
So onwards to Puno & lake Titicaca homestay!
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