Thursday, January 16, 2014

First Day in Cusco and the Sacred Valley

Tim:  We are on a tight travel schedule. After just one full day in Lima we left for Cusco. Our flight left at 6:00 AM. We were up at 3:40 AM to get to the airport on time. The flight was a short 1 1/2 hours. It took two attempts to make the landing because of cloud cover. Most of the flights into Cusco are in the morning because weather conditions are such that often flights cannot land later in the day.

Cusco is at 11,000 feet above sea level and altitude sickness is a concern if you arrive here from sea level the same day (which we did). All of the guest houses provide coca tea which is suppose to help combat the effects of altitude sickness. I have about four cups every morning. For the most part none of the four of us have experienced any acute side effects except for the occasional huffing and puffing when hiking up an incline.

After arriving in Cusco at 7:30 AM, we got settled at our guest house, Mama Samona Guest House. We really like it here. Our room with a bathroom cost $27 USD a night. Only one room was ready when we arrived so the four of us (Amber, Heather, Dwight, and I) stashed our back and set out to make arrangements for Machu Picchu. This required that we make train arrangements to get to Aguas Calientes the village below Machu Picchu. The only transportation available to get into Aquas Calientes is by train, and the train company has a monopoly. 

Once we had arranged the train tickets we went to book our entrance tickets to Machu Picchu to include hiking Hyna Picchu, the mountain next to Machu Picchu wich allows for the amazing view overlooking the whole site.

Although we were all tired from our early morning wake up, we arranged for a day tour in a private taxi of several sites in the sacred valley right outside of Cusco. Our first stop were the ruins at Pisac. The weather was very pleasant around 68 degrees with light clouds. The amount of sunlight made for great photos. The site at Pisac was mostly empty. There were only about 8 other tourists at Pisac so we had the huge site to ourselves. We opted for a guide as well.

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