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Lima, Cusco, Machu Picchu

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From Iquitos we flew to Lima, the capital of Peru. We stayed in a hostel in the Miraflores district which is known for its shopping, gardens, flower-filled parks and beaches. We had only planned on staying in Lima one night and had a flight booked to Cusco the following day.We thought our flight was in the afternoon when actually it was at 9am so when we woke up at 8am we realized we had missed it! Our First missed flight of the trip but luckily we called star Peru airlines and it only cost USD 17 each to change it to the next day, which isn't too bad!
The hostel was full for the second night so We found a Starbucks and spent time doing admin there and booked more accommodation. you can never turn down a good coffee while traveling, it's such a treat plus Starbucks usually has the fastest wifi!

Lima has always been known as the Garden City, And The Miraflores government has spent years improving and adding to the green spaces, with a special emphasis on El Malecón, a lovely stretch of parks situated along the cliffs high above the Pacific Ocean. its the perfect place for jogging, So we went for a lovely afternoon run followed by dinner at a pizza place that was such a rip off!

The Next day we got to the airport with plenty of time and caught our flight to Cusco which is a city in southeastern Peru, near the Urubamba Valley of the Andes mountain range. Cusco was the site of the historic capital of the Inca Empire and was declared a World Heritage Site in 1983. It is a major tourist destination and receives around 2 million visitors a year.
We had pre-booked a hostel in the San Blas area which has lovely little cobbled streets on the hill. When we arrived at the hostel we were met by a lady who we thought was the hostel owner but she turned out to be from a tour agency and we were trapped listening to her for ages trying to sell overpriced packaged tours, good way to tout but didn't work with us!
Cusco's elevation is around 3,400 m so the hotel gave us coca tea which is recommended for travelers in the Andes to prevent altitude sickness.
Because of the high altitude and lots of rain it was freezing ( around 7 degrees in the day). We spent the afternoon exploring the town, bought train tickets and machu picchu entrance tickes for the next day and had a lovely lunch on the pain plaza.
I didn't think the altitude would affect us but I had a splitting headache and was quite dizzy so we cuddled up in bed and watched a movie which was lovely for a change. That night we went out for some dinner, it was raining very hard so we stopped at the first place we saw and it turned out to be great. One of the typical peruvian meals is guinie pig (fact. 60 million Guinie pigs are eaten in Peru each year). it is baked and served whole with the tail and head in tact. We saw people having this but we went for delicious alpaca meat instead and a local 3 man band played for us while we ate (we bought their CD).

streets of san blas
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typical peruvian woman and the alpacas
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cusco - beautiful catherdrals
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starbucks in cusco - yay.
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After a good nights sleep, I was feeling a lot better. It was sunday so all the agencies in town were closed so We ran around trying to buy bus tickets to Bolivia which After a while we managed to get. We then set off trying to find the bus to Písac which is a village in the Sacred Valley of the Incas on the Urubamba River. The village is well known for its market every Sunday and the inca ruins. Everyone gave us different directions to the bus stop, we were about to give up looking when a old man named franco asked if we wanted him to drive us. It was more expensive than the bus would have been but we had our own driver for the day and we only paid him 100 peruvian pesos (about £20) to take us an hour away to the town, then up the hill to the ruins about 8kms away, then to a lovely restaurant for trout then wait for us at the market then drive us back to Cusco. We had a lovely afternoon and bought a painting at the market. That night we met up with Vicky & Dave (we met them in Iquitos) for a few drinks.

Sacred Valley - Pisac
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At 6am the next morning we set off for Machu Picchu... Machu Picchu is a 15th-century Inca site located 2,430 meters above sea level. It is situated on a mountain ridge above the Urubamba Valley, which is 80kms northwest of Cusco. Most archaeologists believe that Machu Picchu was built as an estate for the Inca emperor Pachacuti (1438–1472). Often referred to as the "City of the Incas", it is perhaps the most famous icon of Inca civilization.
The only way to get there is to hike or to go by train. The inca trail is about $1000 per person and booked up 6months in advance but there are other 4/5 day treks you can do but I wasn't keen for another trek in the rain so we decided to be lazy and take the train. The train is very expensive, we paid USD$ 120 each for a return ticket to Aguas Calientes (sometimes referred to as Machupicchu Town) and that was the cheapest ticket possible but it was a lovely journey and we chatted to other travelers for the 3hr journey. the train arrived in Aguas Calientes at about 10.30am.
Dressed in our heavy winter gear we decided then hike up from the town to Machu Picchu. The walk up was extremely steep and the weather had become humid and it was raining so By the time we got to the top we were sopping wet! We bought a very expesive bottle of cold water and cooled off before entering the site. We were not expecting much, it's very touristy and expensive BUT Machu Picchu is amazing! The ruins are so impressive but also the geography around it is incredible. We were so lucky with the weather, lots of people we met only saw clouds but we had a clear day.
Ater spending a few hours walking around the site, we took a bus back down to Aguas Calientes. this town is the main access point to the site and due to the huge influx of tourists, it is so overpriced. There wasn't much accomodation left so we stayed at a horrible hostel which was dirty and had no hot water. It was so cold so I decided to skip the cold shower that night and the next morning... The joys of a wet wipe bath!

hike up to Machu Picchu
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Machu Picchu
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toiletries for the night ( a lot less than normal)
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We got the 8am train the next morning to a town called ollyatambo which is about 2hrs away from cusco. It was cheaper to do this and we thought we would spend some time in the town however the ruins there seemed random after Machu Picchu so we decided not to spend money on entrance fee and head back to cusco. We got a shared taxi back And Killed the rest of the afternoon in an Italian restaurant. Then after fetching our bags from the hostel we headed for the bus stop for our first 11hr overnight bus in South America that left at 10pm and was bound for copacobana in Bolivia.
Our time in Peru went so fast. The poeple are friendly, its much cheaper than colombia and we really enjoyed every part of our few weeks in this beautiful country.

Posted by karenandbyron 17:29 Archived in Peru

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wish we were with you, as have never been to peru or bolivia, but your descripton of your trip make up for it !!xxxxx so much love and a very belated happy new year.......lisa and tony

by lisa phillips

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