March 3 – Arrival to Lima from Chicago, USA
After our long-haul flight from Chicago my sister and I were relieved to finally reach Lima. I was a little unsure of what to expect from Peru, but any worries were lifted when we saw our driver Juan’s smiling face waiting for us at Lima airport. We reached the Allpa Hotel around midnight and were delighted to throw ourselves down on the comfortable beds and fall straight to sleep!
March 4 – A guided city tour of Lima and a beautiful sunset!
We took a stroll around Miraflores this morning, and grabbed some lunch before heading back to the hotel for our city tour that afternoon. Our guide had perfect English and was full of jokes as well as being extremely knowledgeable. He kept us all laughing even when we were stuck in traffic on Lima’s city streets!
March 5 – Flight to Cusco, plus a guided tour of the city
Juan delivered us to the airport this morning for our flight to Cusco. We had heard that the seats on the left side of the plane get the best views and we weren’t disappointed! On the drive from the airport it was obvious that Cusco is completely different to Lima. It’s an older city with lots of beautiful colonial buildings and cathedrals- none of Lima’s flashy skyscrapers! We checked in to our hotel, Los Portales, and later that day we were picked up for our tour of Cusco which lasted about 3 hours. The great thing about the tour was that we also got the chance to explore some of the areas outside of the city, like the huge Inca fortress of Sacsayhuaman.
March 6 – Guided tour of the Sacred Valley and an overnight stay in Ollantaytambo
This morning we were picked up for our tour of the Sacred Valley. We had both begun to feel the altitude, and our guide recommended some coca tea. It is the local cure for altitude sickness and it really helped. We spent most of the drive through the Sacred Valley with our heads pressed to the window, in awe of the mountains around us! My sister loves crafts so she was eager to visit Pisac market, one of Peru’s most famous artisanal markets. That evening we stayed in Ollantaytambo, a village in the Valley. The Hotel El Sol was quiet and comfortable- exactly what we needed.
March 7 – Train to Aguas Calientes and a private tour of Machu Picchu
We had left most of our luggage at our hotel in Cusco and brought only rucksacks for the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu. When we arrived by train to Aguas Calientes we were taken straight to the bus depot for our trip up to Machu Picchu. Our guide Jorge met us at the entrance and showed us around for the next two hours. We were lucky with the weather and got some great photos of the site. That evening we bussed back down to the town of Aguas Calientes and checked in at the Hotel El Santuario before heading out for dinner.
March 8 – Climb up Huayna Picchu and our train back to Cusco
We were up at 4am this morning, as we had made the brave decision to hike up the steps to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes. The walk took an hour and we reached the entrance around 5.30am in time for sunrise, tired and sweaty but proud! We were in the 7am group for the climb up Huayna Picchu mountain, so we didn’t have long to wait. We reached the top in around 50 minutes where we took some time to appreciate the view of Machu Picchu from above, before heading back down. Our Expedition train back to Cusco was at 2.30pm so we had some time for a bite to eat in Aguas Calientes before the journey back.
March 9 – Free day in Cusco
Today we spent exploring Cusco. We checked out one or two museums, which we could enter for free with our Cusco Tourist Ticket. It was a very relaxing day which we finished by enjoying a cold drink in a bar overlooking the Plaza de Armas.
March 10 – Inca Express bus to Puno from Cusco
We were a little apprehensive about the 8 hour bus journey from Cusco to Puno, but were definitely proven wrong! The seats were far larger and more comfortable than any bus I’d ever been on. There was a guide on board and we stopped at some points of interest along the way. We arrived to Puno around 5pm that evening where we were picked up by our driver José and taken to the Intiqa Hotel. This was one of our favorite hotels so far, with really friendly reception staff.
March 11 – Boat tour on Lake Titicaca
We had another early start this morning for our boat tour on the lake. Puno was our highest destination yet (over 12,000 feet) but after a few days in Cusco, we had no problems. Our guide José brought us first to the “floating islands” of Uros, which are man-made islands built completely out of knitted reeds. We stopped for lunch on Taquile Island before taking the boat back to the mainland.
March 12 – Our final day in Peru!
The final day of our trip came all too soon, and we were sad to say goodbye to the shores of the beautiful Lake Titicaca as we headed to the airport. On the way to Juliaca airport we stopped off at the Sillustani Funerary Towers. Our guide told us that each tower was a giant family-sized grave from pre-Inca times. Later that morning we caught our flight to Lima where we connected with our flight to Chicago. It’s bye for now Peru, but we will definitely be back!
SATO thank you so much for all the memories and unforgettable experiences!
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