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December 3rd 2015
Published: December 3rd 2015
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Having spent almost two weeks in Cusco (minus 4 days for the Inca Trail), we are starting to feel quite at home here. We’ve done some brilliant walks to Inca ruins, spent hours exploring incredibly colourful markets and been downright lazy in our lovely hostel, Santa Teresa, where Etelvina has done everything in her power to make us comfortable.

Tom’s 30th birthday was spent walking up a very steep hill from our hostel to Sacsayhuamán (pronounced a lot like Sexy Woman!), some Incan ruins with fantastic views down over the city. His birthday wishes came true when we made our way to the highest point and the llamas started to appear! In total we were surrounded by about ten of them, including a very unsteady baby. After a few hours exploring the ruins and enjoying the views, we headed back into Cusco where we chanced upon a food market selling loads of incredible looking cakes! Perfect. For the evening of the big birthday, we celebrated in style at one of Cusco’s finest restaurants, Cicciolino, where our meals were delicious, although Tom’s alpaca fillet stole the show. Incredible! We also had amazing deserts and paid £30 for our best meal in 4 months!

Tom’s birthday present was a white-water rafting trip (obviously I had to go too - shame!). This was a brilliant day where we were driven up through the stunning Sacred Valley along some extremely questionable roads to the Urumbamba River and spent a fantastic two hours rafting along class 2 and 3 rapids, before a delicious lunch followed by zip-lining across the river!

Another highlight of Cusco was a walk from Tambomachay, a set of ruins around 8km from Cusco. We got a taxi with a super friendly, informative driver and walked back from there to our hostel. The views from Tambomachay across the countryside were incredible, reminiscent of Dartmoor at times. The route took us past a number of other ruins as we headed back to the city, the first of which was Pukapukara, with even more amazing views. As we walked past small villages and local farmers watching their animals, we reached the Temple of the Moon with snow-capped mountains behind. The final set of ruins were my favourite, named Q’enqo but the taxi driver told us their Spanish name is ‘Laberinto’ and it soon became apparent why – it was like a maze, with narrow passages twisting and turning on the side of the hill.

Cusco is a brilliant place to wander, and we’ve spent many happy hours doing this… aimlessly exploring the cobbled streets, looking at the incredible produce and handicrafts for sale in the markets and half-heartedly haggling with the storekeepers (we feel too bad after a while as their prices are so ridiculously cheap anyway)! Somehow whichever way we go, we always seem to end up at the Plaza de Armas, the beautiful main square which is home to the stunning cathedral and surrounded by arches on all four sides. We have also worked out that Cusco completely fails to understand the concept of Happy Hour, and you can permanently find two Pisco Sours (the delicious cocktail of Peru) for the price of one in almost any bar along any street.

Today has been spent discovering the San Blas area, which we stumbled upon by accident. This is yet another lovely maze of cobbled streets around a square where we managed to do a little Christmas shopping before hurrying back to avoid the storm - the rainy season is in full force now! Tomorrow we will be sad to leave the Capital of the Incas but excited to head to Quito in Ecuador to continue our adventure!

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