- Continually drink coca tea to help fight altitude sickness
- Bring bottled water and never drink the tap water
- Bring bug spray and long-sleeved clothing to minimize bug bites
- Have both summer wear and light winter wear; the temperatures change a lot
- Have small change like dollar bills or Peruvian currency and have a tipping guide
- Haggle with the local people and don’t bite on the first price
- Learn basic Peruvian-Spanish words and sayings
- Try every dish you can find. Peru is the Gastronomic Capital of South America for a reason
Arriving at Cusco
It was an hour flight from Lima to Cusco, the capital of the Cusco Region/Province has an elevation of about 11,200 ft (3,400 m). This is the historic grounds of the Inca Empire (which will be a major theme with most of the trip) from the 13th until the 16th-century Spanish conquest. Right upon arrival I quickly noticed two things: the altitude’s effects and the orange backdrop. Cusco (as with most of Sacred Valley) is dry around the summer.
The altitude may cause altitude sickness for some so coca tea is a welcome drink given by the tour guide. The temperature was around 20-21 degrees around October, making it a perfect time to visit. Not too hot, not cold. A mixture of both in varying degrees
Trip to Urubamba (Sacred Valley)
From Cusco we traveled to the Sacred Valley. The Valley includes everything between Calca and Lamay, Pisac, and Ollantaytambo (more on these later). The drive is about four hours but it will be the shortest four hours as there is a lot to see. The mountain range is breathtaking and you’ll see it in full scope.
We stopped by a small town to learn more about the Peruvian tradition of knitting. We purchased some goods and met a local celebrity. This was the first time I got up close with some Alpacas and Guinea Pigs a.k.a. “Cuy”.
The Peruvians are friendly. School children waved. The knitters, the natives were likewise amicable and it’s hard to resist buying from them. Consider it donating to their culture.
Urubamba and Casa Andina
Urubamba is the largest town in the Sacred Valley with a population just under 3,000. A lot of the locals here speak some English because it is a popular tourist attraction as many pass through here on their trek to Macchu Picchu. Urubamba is a good town to acclimatize to the Peruvian elevation. Most of the houses are terracotta and the town itself was very earthy. The roads are tight and I found out just how good Peruvian drivers are.
Had some Alpaca steak, it was a bit tough but tasted a lot like pork. It had the same texture too. The food is pricy in the hotel but is almost like fine dining. Same with the one in Puno (later on this). The free breakfast in the morning is pretty hearty and warm even if the eggs are a bit watery.
Try the Pisco Sour and Chicha Morada, their two favourite drinks. The Pisco Sour is Peru’s (and Chile’s) national drink. It’s derived from pisco (which shockingly means “sour”), its base ingredient, lemon juice, simply syrup and egg whites. It’s a rich tangy drink with a cloudy feeling as you drink it.
Chicha Morada is sweet drink made from purple corn, a variant of the Zea mays native to the region. Making it usually involves boiling the corn in water with pineapple. Sugar, cinnamon, and clove are often added to give the drink its complex but appetizing taste. Again, another exquisite and rich drink.
Travel Continues: Pisac/Ollantaytambo (Sacred Valley)