Cusco, the city in the Clouds
So we headed from a most enjoyable stay in Lima to Cusco for what promises to be one of the highlights of our trip. 3 highlights in fact.
- We have our good friends Danni and Charley coming to join us for a couple of weeks, and it will be great to catch up and spend some quality time with them
- We booked to go on a tour to trek / climb up to Rainbow Mountain (more on this later)
- The final act in Cusco and most definitely one from the bucket list, the Inca Trail finishing in the ancient Inca ruins of Machu Pichu.
As usual the flight was great – we have been using LATAM for all of our internal flights and have to say that they have been most reliable and good quality.
We were greeted with sunshine as we landed in Cusco, which was a little bit of a surprise as I had been keeping an eye on the weather forecast for the last month and pretty much everyday had been forecasted to rain. And not only was it sunny but it was damn warm too – lovely.
Immediately as we exited the airport we could feel the altitude which your breath quite literally goes with the mildest of exercise. Cusco itself is a city at 3400m above sea level, Pan Y Fan is only 890m, Ben Nevis is only 1400m and Mont Blanc is 4800m at its very highest you can imagine the difference in oxygen levels. Anyway, Cusco –the former capital of the Inca Empire- carries the title of the Archaeological Capital of South America with pride. Cusco, literally means “navel” in the local Quechua language, and it certainly still fits this description today, as it is at the centre of Andean culture. It is the gateway city to the Andes, from where you can easily visit countless sites such as the famous Machu Picchu, one of the most fascinating lost cities in the world.
There is no other place in the whole continent where you can easily reach ruins of such an amazing culture which are still in a good condition and instantly it had a completely different feel to Lima. We were supposed to be picked up by a cab arranged by the hotel, but that never showed up. We had read horror stories of people being charged 80-120 soles (£20-30) by airport taxis, but that is an absolute nonsense! Ultimately we paid 20 soles (£5) which was probably still too much but was pretty stressless and easy. The negotiations started at 30 soles but Mich said no, and immediately it turned into 20. Our advice would be to start at 10 and I am sure you can get for less.
We had arrived a couple of days in advance of Danni and Charley because they are both pretty fit and active, and we thought that we would get a sneaky advantage by having more time to acclimatise! The Inca trail was always the main focus of this trip, but much more recently Michelle had spotted some stories online about this beautiful place called the Rainbow Mountains, which because of the different minerals embedded in the rock gives it a beautiful look, and a unique and beautiful landscape. The trek itself is pretty tough going though, 10 miles and a climb of 600m up to a total of about 5000m. And the worst part? They pick us up at 2.15am from the hostel for a 3 hour drive to the start of the trek and we don’t return until about 7pm. We are actually doing this a couple of days before the Inca Trail (on Wednesday) because of the way that the diaries work out, but I guess if we can manage this hard-core trip then the Inca Trail should be a doddle.
Anyway, whilst Mich and I waited for Danni and Charley we really didn’t do a lot other than gently amble around. So no photos for this post, we will save them for when the tea arrives and we update next.