Leaving Bolivia was tough as I’d been in the country for over two months but also it was the longest time I’d been in one place due to me jumping back and forth between Chile and Argentina. The border crossing was easy and quick and although there was some kind of fiesta going on making this the must chaotic place I’ve crossed into any country we were soon in Peru with no bag checks, another hour travelled back in time and a new stamp in my passport. Although I took the night bus from Copacabana to Cusco there was a two hour stop in Puño where I was able to buy a SIM card and start getting used to Peru. I was sad to discover the crisp flavours were the same as Bolivia so this rules out staying here long term.
Back on board the bus i didn’t get s terrible nights sleep and this time after arriving at the bus stop at 6am I headed straight to the hostel. They let me in but I couldn’t check in until later so after killing a few hours online I headed out to find to get some breakfast and then find a city tour. I stopped at a cafe and had a delicious empanada.
There are a few city tours in Cusco and I had been given mixed messages about where to find them and which one to go on. Heading across to Plaza Mayor del Cusco I found a few people walking around looking for people to join them. I decided I wanted to join a tour with more than just me or two other people for once so I headed to the last location I’d been given, Plaza El Regocijo, and there I found a big group of people waiting to go on a tour. So I joined the Inman Milky Way tour. It was pretty good and took us around the major sites, despite the fact on this Sunday there was a huge celebration going on in the centre of town.
On the tour I met Camila and Fei and we decided to head to the market for lunch. After we decided to head up to the ruins on the top of the hill just outside of Cusco. The climb is quite steep but it does give you a beautiful view of the city.
Sacsayhuaman is a citadel that was built around 1100 and then used by the Incas. It’s the closest ruins just outside the city and it’s only a 30 minute walk up a steep hill, you can get the bus but unless you really can’t walk up the hill then getting the bus is cheating.
The entrance fee is either 70 or 130 soles. This gets you access to a multitude of attractions and I’ll be covering some of them in the next few blogs. The 70 sole ticket gets you two days to visit all of them and the 130 sole ticket gives you 10 days. Don’t do what I did and go on the Salkantay trek halfway through or you will be hard pressed to see everything.
After the fortress I went around town visiting the agencies I’d been recommended by various people. I was shocked to find they were much more expensive than I had anticipated. A couple of places were closed and I admitted defeat for the night and decided to try again the next morning. That night I went for a BBQ at Fuis hostel and as my new friends had early starts for their treks in the morning. I went to bed a little defeated as I hadn’t managed to book a trek and it was going to be much more expensive than I had anticipated. Then again, everything is.
I decided to sleep in a little, i wake up really early here, especially as I’m processing another time change, had breakfast. Packed for my hike and headed out to book a tour at 9am. I went to another agency that had been suggested and they seemed as if they didn’t really care wherever they had my custom or not so I headed back to Matchu Pitchu Excursions and booked. Following Alexas advice I decided to get the train home and booked a hike up to Matchu Pitchu mountain. This cost me an extra $100 but in the end it’s worth it. If you get the bus back you have to leave Matchu Pitchu at 11am, hike 11 kilometres, and spend up to 7 hours on the bus on the sketchiest of roads. My ticket enabled me to enter twice and stay longer but I’ll come to that in the post.
It was now close to 11am and I decided if i was going to start the hike it was now or never and I left feeling as if I had been ripped off as I’d spent twice as much as I thought I would. This is advice based on other travellers but they did the hikes in a quieter season where it is probably cheaper.
I again hiked up the hill towards Q’enqo, my first stop, this time I followed steps and it was one of the steepest climbs I’ve made so far. I reached the top and nearly collapsed so decided to rest and have the first part of my lunch. I followed the trails on Maps.me to the site and found it nearly deserted. There was me, one other guy and a couple having wedding photos taken, you can see them in the photos below. I soon realised that I was on an area that was not quite part of the official site and climbed up to where I could see all the tours. A man pointed me to the entrance and I had a quick look around and had another hole punched in my ticket.
The next site on my list was Puka Pukara. It was only around a 4km walk so I followed the maps suggestion and I was glad that i did as I got to see some extra places. I walked up another hill and a man spoke to me. I thought he said that i couldn’t use the road but i realised he was offering me a horse ride. So if you don’t feel up to it then you can always take horses.
I continued up the road and saw some people in the field to my right in the distance. I quickly checked the map and it showed some ruins so I decided to follow and found some more things to look at.
There was a huge area to explore but knowing I was about to start a 5 day trek tomorrow and thinking I had to return by walking I decided to continue.
After walking another kilometre I saw people down in the valley I had wanted to visit. I saw a wall and a few ruins so decided to hike down there from my position on the hill and was pleased to discover the small fortress of Chuspiyoq.
After spending a bit of time exploring I walked back up the hill/mountain. I have no idea what constitutes as what at this altitude. I found the path and continued through fields full of sheep and llamas and people working.
Before long I was starring at the ruins of Puka Pukara. Annoyingly there were lots of people walking around so I sat down in a field full of llamas ate my lunch and waited for the perfect shot to appear. One thing about Cusco is that as it is so busy you rarely get any views to yourself. After I went in and explored.
The last place on my route for the day was Tambomachay. It was a short walk along the road and seemed to be a place where the Incas made water fountains. I suppose one problem with doing this all solo is that without a guide I didn’t really know what anything meant. It was also getting really cloudy and cold at this stage so I didn’t spend too long.
I noticed that there were a lot of busses running along the road and after some investigation, well asking some one, I discovered they all went back to Cusco at the cost of 1 Sole. I decided to forgo walking back and jumped on a bus that conveniently stopped near my hostel.
After a couple of hours of research and relaxing I was ready to go to the 7pm briefing for the trek. On the way I stopped for supplies and grabbed a burger. Then it was time to meet my hiking buddies for the next few days.