We arrived in Cusco a four days before heading off on our Inca Trail hike. Two to three days are recommended to help you adjust to the altitude, however everyone is different. I unfortunately did not adjust well at all!
The first day was hard for everyone; imagine walking up a single normal size flight of stairs and feeling like you have just run a marathon! It was hard. After the first day however the girls all adjusted and even went trekking on horseback around the beautiful mountains. I opted to stay in Cusco and wandered around the area and markets as I still hadn’t adjusted very well to the altitude. I did however treat myself to a massage which was heavenly. I knew straight away that I’d be getting another one as soon as we were finished our hike too. It’s a really nice spot where you feel safe wandering around by yourself. There are fabulous markets to explore here, beautiful hand crafts, a textiles museum and a gorgeous town square. There are plenty of options for dinner and I would highly recommend the local food here.
We used Cusco as a base for a few different trips such as The Inca Trail and our visit to the Amazon Rainforest. You can book the rainforest tour from here and you really do get great value just be sure to shop around. Everywhere has slightly different packages and there are many, many options to choose from.
Before our trek we stayed in a lovely hotel. After the trek we stayed in a crazy fun hostel. Two very different places which means there is something for everyone here. If you are backpacking I would definitely recommend the hostel option! We stayed in Kokopelli and had an absolute ball! Another one that’s supposed to be amazing is The Wild Rover, however you have to book there in advance. Wherever you stay they will always store your luggage securely while you go off on your overnight adventures which is great. Cusco is the perfect base location for exploring.
Highest Irish pub
An iconic site in history and a must see for all travellers when in Peru. Machu Picchu is one of the most breath-taking sights you will ever experience and not just because of the difficulty breathing at such altitudes!
I went on a four day hike along the “Inca Trail” with three friends. The views were breath-taking from the get go. Any pictures I had seen beforehand really just didn’t do it justice! We were also very fortunate to have an amazing tour guide called Freddie who had a wealth of knowledge about the Inca people.
Hiking through ruins
I didn’t quite adjust to the altitude as well as the rest of the group I was traveling with and even on day one found the climbing hard. I struggled going up and was last up to every meeting point. I was however first down every time we headed back down a peak. I guess the years of gymnastics when I was younger helped my balance and I didn’t feel the impact on my knees that was a killer for others. The main decent is called “The Gringo Killer” by locals as the tourists find this part most difficult. This part consists of 2,000+ steps! There are also two options at this stage one is longer but not steep and a lot of people choose that way as their knees were giving out. I went the short way with two other members of my group as our legs felt ok and also it was quite wet and we hoped to get back to camp before the rain came down. Thankfully we did! The rest of our group were not too happy as they got soaked and cold from going the other way.
The Gringo Killer
On top of the world!
It was very overcast and rained a lot over the course of our hike. Luckily we were advised by the hotel we stayed in that the forecast was bad and to make sure we had our rain coats with us. I went and bought one while in Cusco before we headed on our trek. A light rain jacket or windbreaker is not enough for this hike. You really need a proper heavy duty jacket. Also we did not go during the rainy season and it still rained every day of our hike!
We booked our hike through Peru Treks without any problem. We booked the trek 9 months in advance as they sell out quickly due to limitations on the numbers of visitors allowed access the area on a daily basis. I would definitely recommend this company as the guides were very knowledgeable and somehow got me there even though I was so very sick! Not only did we hike but we learnt all about the Inca people, we learned some of their language Quechua and performed a ritual to Pachamama (Mother Earth).
Somehow I survived!
Despite suffering from the altitude sickness I did make it to the top and it was definitely all worthwhile in the end to see that amazing view in person!