Monday, November 18, 2013

Cusco, Macchu Picchu and Lake Titicaca


Right now, I am sitting on a boat heading back from Isla del Sol to Copacabana. It is a long trip of 1,5 hours, so this gives me the chance to give an update on our adventures. 
So, the last time I was writing, we were in Cusco. We arrived there two weeks ago, the 6th of November. We were starting our hike the 10th, but due to the altitude during the hike, we were advised to stay a minimum of three days in Cusco. Cusco itself is at 3100 meters, and during our hike we would be reaching 4500 meters (!!), so those three days would allow us to get used to the altitude. We arrived in Cusco around 18h,  and did not really feel any difference. We decided to go out for dinner. Claudio found a cute place 1km from our hostel. Ok no problem! However, Cusco has steep streets, and we to climb a bit. Now we were definitely feeling the difference! We were out of breath immediatly! Even worse, we couldn't find the place... For some reason, the numbering of the houses in the streets is not really cronological, and google maps does not always work. In the meantime, we encountered this problem already multiple times, but this was the first time. So we could not find it and just went to another restaurant nearby. We ordered a pisco sour (a typical Peruvian cocktail, delicious!), and some pizza. We started eating, and all of the sudden we felt lightheaded, disoriented, and superweird. My stomack started turning, damn! We left the restaurant as fast as we could and realised it was the altitude getting to us. For one moment we thought the waiter, who clearly chewed too many coca leaves, slipped something in our drinks, but it was just the altitude. We went to bed early, and slept alot. 
The next day, we already felt better, and headed out to explore the city. Wow, Cusco is so beautiful! We both love it! 
Cusco by night
Plaza de Armas, Cusco

We went to Plaza de Armas, which is the main square and is surrounded by beautiful churches, and other colonial buildings. We learned that the Spaniards destroyed all the temples of the Inca cultures, as they cotained a lot of gold. So they were basically just melted down. So sad to think about it... And it makes you feel guilty that you like the colonial buildings set up by the Spaniards :s 
We walked a bit more uphill, and discovered a beautiful fountain. The area was some kind of hippie place, with a cool relaxed vibe. 
At the end of that day, we went out for dinner, and unfortunately, the next day was not a good day for me and my intestants... I will not go to much into detail, but lets just say I had to stay in as I needed to use the toilet quite often :D
The following day we had a guided tour of the city. This was included in our package with Cusi Travel, for our hike the following day. We visted the center again, but also visted some local markets and saw how people actually live. What a difference with the touristic bubble we were in for three days! People are quite poor in Peru, and this was our first confrontation with reality. Still, Peruvians are kind people and rather shy, not intimidating at all. So we never felt unsafe. We just felt really TALL! All the market stands were like 1m65 high, and we constantely had to bend not to hit the top of the stands. 

Local market in Cusco

It was a really nice tour, and we would recommend it if you are ever in Cusco. Just check out Cusi travel! 

So, right now I'm not on a boat anymore but on a bus towards La Paz. I will continue writing from here as I have gour hours to kill :-)

So, the day after our guided tour we were going to start our hike! We got up at 5.45h, had an early breakfast, and at 6.30h our guide came and picked us up. We drove 1,5h and arrived in Calca. Here you had a little local market where we bought a warm jacket for Claudio, some gloves and hats for when it would get cold at night. We drove another 2 hours and arrived in Lares, where we were going to start our hike. The first hours were already hard, cause we climbed from 3100 to 3700 meters!! It was also very warm so it was pretty tough. However, the views were just spectacular! It was just me, Claudio, and the guide in the middle of the Andes. No other person anywhere... It was so silent, just magnificent. 

Lares hike, Claudio and Juan our guide
Views during the Lares hike

Views during Lares hike

After a couple of hours we arrived at our campsite. It was getting dark and cold, so we put all our warmest clothes on, brrr. There was also no shower, warm water, electricity... Just nature, the moutains and lots of animals (horses, alpaca, lama, dogs, sheep, ...). All the animals also live freely in the mountains, it must be like paradise for them! And they were all so cute and sweet, even the dogs. Anyway, back to the hike :) So, we slept at -5 degrees in our tents, but strangely enough we slept well. We got up at 6am and started the rest of our hike, up to 4500 meters! I was dying OMG. The air was horrible and it was so difficult to breath! But at 12h, we were at the top. We made it!! 

Climbing :)
Sleeping in the valley
¡ Lama's everywhere !

We had lunch, and started decending again, till arriving at 2800 meters again. The third day, we climbed till 3500 again (grrr I though the climbing was over). We saw an old Inca ruin, and our guide explained is alot about the Inca culture, which was really interesting. Finally, we arrived in Ollantaytambo, a small touristic town which is visited for its Inca ruins as well. Finally we could relax. The hiking was over. After three days without showering or going to a decent toilet, we longed for a clean hotelroom. So, we took the train from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Caliente with Perurail. We learned from our guide that Perurail has a monopoly for arriving in Aguas Caliente, the town from which you can visit Macchu Picchu. So you cannot get there by car, motorcycle, bus, ... Even the buses that bring you from Aguas Caliente to Macchu Picchu are brought into town by train! The only other way you could get into Aguas Caliente is walking from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Caliente, but it's about 35km. We met a couple that was actually doing that, as they could not afford the 100$ train ticket! 
Anyway, we took the train and arrived in Aguas Caliente and our lovely hotel room.
For Claudio however, the day was not finished yet... Our guide had told us about the possibility to climb a mountain facing Macchu Picchu. It was a free climb however, there is no official path. Hm, ok, not my thing, plus I was so sick of climbing djeeeez! But Claudio went anyway :) and he made it! He had a nice view over Macchu Picchu so he saw it one day before me. Bravo Clappie!

Behind Claudio the mountain he climbed.
The next morning we were off to Macchu Picchu! We took the first bus to get there at 5.20h so we got up at 4.15h :s. We did this because we wanted to see the sunrise. But we were unlucky because it was super foggy, damn! Anyway, there were only a 100 people there when we entered the site, so it felt a little bit like we had the place to our own... So nice. We also hiked to the sungate to get a nice view from Macchu Picchu (another hike ;) ). It was magnificent. Truly the most beautiful thing that we have ever seen in our lives. The pictures don't do it justice. You have to see it, as it is surrounded by the jungle and different mountains. It's just amazing. 

Macchu Picchu

In the evening, we headed back to Cusco with the train (4 long hours). We stayed there for another two days, just to rest from our tyring hike. But last Friday, it was time to say goodbye to cutsie Cusco . We were sad to leave as we really loved it here! But it was time a new adventure. Up to lake Titicaca!

We took a night bus from Cusco to Puno, which is a town at the Peruvian side of the lake. We drove with Cruz del Sur, which has really nice busses. We read about so many horror stories of accidents and drunk bus drivers, so we decided to go with a more reliable company. It was an 8 hour trip, very comfortable. At sunrise we arrived at the lake. 
Puno itself it not really nice actually, and we were happy to leave for Copacabana, the Bolivian side of the lake. So we hopped on another bus. We crossed the border easily, it's so good to be European. We just got a smile and a stamp on our passports. Americans on the other side had to fill in some documents and had to pay 130$. An American girl told us that it's the same for Peru, Brasil, and other South American countries. They do it because the US treats them in the same way. So it's some kind of "revenge"...
After three hours we arrived in Copacabana. It was so beautiful! The next day, we got up early, and took a boat trip of 2 hours to get to Isla del Sol. We went to the north side of the island, and did a four hour hike over the island to get to the south side. Many people did the same, and it was also a fun way to get to know people! We also noticed that there were many people that we saw in Cusco or Macchu Picchu, that were now with us in Copacabana. So weird!
So, the hike was tough again, climbing in the hot sun, but the views were so beautiful... So peaceful and calming. 
Hiking Isla del Sol
Gorgeous views at Isla del Sol

At night we were back, and the following day we were leaving for La Paz. But that will be for my next post! 

So, until now, we saw beautiful places. We enjoyed the food, the nature, the historical sites, the Inca culture, and the weather. Now it's time for 2 weeks of Bolivia!! I will keep you all updated 😉

We send you all positive vibes, some sunshine, and lots of love ❤ 

Big kisses,
Marj & Cla


  1. Beautifull stuff :) I'm not too crazy about South America itself (comfy & lazy European :D ) but the culture and history there is really fascinating!

  2. It is definitely tough to travel South America but to see all the historical sites makes it worth it!!

  3. You changed the settings of your life and it takes some time to get used to that new program. It looks like you're surfing from one site to an other and enjoying all these nice places. In a person's life it's important not only to create wealth, but from time to time to see and to experiment differences in places, living conditions... and to understand that these local people have also a life. Love you kids xxx

  4. We are definitely experiencing a lot of new cultures, places, habbits, and so on. It makes you appreciate everything you have so much more!