Thursday, January 31, 2013

Peru - Part 3 (Cusco)

As Frank Sinatra sings, 'come fly with me, let's float down to Peru'. I'm not sure why he uses the word down, as the elevation in Cusco is 11,200 ft (higher than Machu Picchu I was surprised to learn).

left: mr A taking a break, the altitude differential hits you as soon as you walk off the plane
right: the common Peruvian cure? coca tea

The city of Cusco is very pedestrian friendly and I suggest putting a day aside to just roam the streets. There are many local vendors (I got a great wool sweater) that sell everything from art and clothing to touristy knick knacks.

A note on the altitude: I was personally very worried about how I would react to the altitude given that I also have asthma. I spoke with my doctor and received pills (Diamox) specifically designed to aid with altitude sickness. The best way I can describe the effects is that you feel a little drunk, and winded after walking around a bit (doesn't help that Cusco is hilly!) A common Peruvian treatment for altitude sickness is coca tea. This works since the coca leaf is the base for making cocaine. Pro Tip: If you have any sort of job in the security/government realm, I suggest checking with your security officer before indulging.

Viva El Peru!

Cathedral of Cusco located in Plaza de Armas

mr OMG and I at Plaza de Armas

streets of Cusco

From Cusco, you can take many day trips to the sacred valley nearby

you get beautiful views from every angle

factor in lots of stairs for any Inca ruin

our group <3

there's a lot of Peruvian culture going on in this pic

One of the best views of Cusco is from the Cristo Blanco. It's easily accessible by cab.

Getting a cab: You're cab driver can easily become your guide to the city. If you find a cab driver you like, ask him to show you around to a few of his favorite places! They'll likely wait while you explore whatever locale you're at so it's like hiring a personal drive (for way less!)

Cristo Blanco

Cusco at night as seen from Cristo Blanco

After exploring the city, seeing the nearby ruins, and talking with other we meet along the way, we were so ready to go to Machu Picchu.

Part 1: Haucachina Oasis, Nazca Lines & Paracas National Reserve
Part 2: Puerto Maldonado/Amazon Rainforest
Part 3: Cusco
Part 4: Machu Picchu
Overall Trip Guide

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