We arrived in Peru late on Friday night and spent the evening in Lima before catching an early flight to Cusco on Saturday morning. Our time in Lima was short-lived, but I did receive quite the warm welcome from some pretty awesome folks.
Welcome signs and everything!? Aw, shucks. Thanks guys!
Okay, so those people had no idea who I was, but we got a kick out of my pretend welcome committee. One person everyone at the airport did seem to know was a young man who was on our flight. When he walked into the area where everyone’s loved ones were waiting, he was swarmed by a ton of screaming young girls. Apparently we flew with quite the celebrity and didn’t even know it!
Our time in Lima was rather brief and, after a delicious breakfast, we headed back to the airport to catch a morning flight to Cusco.
At breakfast, we all made sure to drink a couple of cups of coca tea, which is believed to help with altitude sickness.
It was quite hot.
After breakfast, we boarded a bus that took us to the airport. All of the logistics of our trip were arranged through the travel company we used, Samay Adventures. We have been so impressed with their attention to detail and I must give a big shout out to Dayanna!
Our flight to Cusco lasted about an hour and once we landed, we immediately headed into a bustling square for lunch at La Retama. (We also did a quick-change in the car and put on shorts because it was much warmer than we anticipated.)
We all agreed the ceviche was the star of the delicious lunch buffet.
After lunch, we met up with a small group of people for an afternoon tour of Cusco that began at a stunning cathedral that was built in 1560.
Unfortunately pictures were not allowed inside, but we were able to snap some photos at our next destination, the temple of Qoricancha.
On the walk to Qoricancha, we were shocked to see alpacas and llamas in the street! As our tour around Cusco continued, we realized that they are everywhere in the city.
After you take a picture, the women or children guiding the alpacas or llamas immediately approach you asking for tips. We learned that little tidbit fast!
Our tour guide for the day did a great job highlighting the interesting aspects of Qoricancha, including the impressive design of the structure. The temple was once called Inti Kancha (Temple of the Sun) and was the most important temple in the Inca Empire.
The walls of the structure were built at an angle, so it would collapse outward instead of inward should an earthquake occur and cause it to fall down.
Everyone in our group made sure to snap pictures of the three perfectly chiseled windows that allowed you to look through to see visitors on the other side.
Can you see me and Ryan?
Our next stop took us to Saqsaywaman, which was easily my favorite destination of the day.
Our guide told us that the name Saqsaywaman was not the original name and evolved over time. He said that because of the way tourists pronounce Saqsaywaman, someday it may morph into the Sexy Woman ruins. Ha!
We didn’t have a ton of time at Saqsaywaman (I was really hoping to do the rock slides!), but we enjoyed listening to the stories our guide told as after he encouraged us to relax in the grass.
After a day on the move, hanging out in the plush green grass felt like heaven.
I was so impressed when I learned that the large stone walls were made of boulders that were precisely cut by the Incas and put together without mortar. They were placed together so tightly that, in many cases, a piece of paper cannot fit through the rocks.
Our next stop was a rather short one and too us to Q’enko, a temple dedicated to Mother Earth that was a center of celebrations and astronomical studies. It has numerous ceremonial carvings, holes and canals cut into the rock and includes an underground chamber.
For our final stop of the day, we explored Tambomachay (Water Temple), a site that was once used as a center of worship to the water. Right before we boarded the bus to Tambomachay, we we purchased choclo, the best corn I’ve ever tasted in my life. The kernels were giant!
It was sweet and incredibly addicting. We ended up buying more at Tambomachay!
Tambomachay was a beautiful place with water flowing from a sophisticated system of aqueducts and canals.
Our guide told us that the water coming from the stream is said to bring fertility and that many women drank from the water in hopes of having a child. It was the perfect final stop on our tour, especially since my mom and sister were hit with some serious altitude sickness on the bus ride back to our hotel. I felt awful for them!
Fortunately everyone woke up feeling 100 percent better and today was full of fun without any sickness. Thank goodness!
I hope to be back soon with a recap of our second day in Cusco. I hope you guys had a great weekend!
Your trip looks fabulous! Officially adding Peru to my ever-growing list of places to see. I can’t wait to read about Machu Picchu and the Galapagos. I visited the Galapagos islands when I was in high school and it was one of the most memorable trips I’ve ever taken. I can only imagine how much more I’d probably appreciate it now that I’m a little older, too!
I am jealous too. Visiting Peru and going to Machu Picchu is on my list of things to do. It looks like you are having a great time.
This trip looks amazing! Out of curiosity, did you find that booking through the agent was cheaper than if you had planned it yourself? Or so convenient that it made any extra costs worth it?
Danielle @Dish'n'Dash says
Hey! I am currently living in Cusco so I thought I could help answer your question. It can be cheaper to go it alone; use public transport, book tickets yourself, etc. but if you have limited time here, don’t want the hassle, then paying for an organized tour can be worth it. I recently had friends visiting and instead of doing an organized tour to Machu Picchu, I bought the tickets here in Cusco and then we took public transport from Cusco to Ollantaytambo (~$5/person) where we caught the train to Aguas Calientes. Doing it this way allowed us to stop at different towns to visit markets and explore ruins.
If you are wanting to hike the Inka trail you HAVE to go with a tour company that has a license to operate on the trail. If you are an experienced hiker, there are treks you can do on your own without a guide so you can save some money there.
It is also easy to get from Cusco to other parts of Southern Peru – Lake Titicaca and the floating islands, Colca Canyon, the sand dunes, etc. via bus.
Basically, it all comes down to how adventurous you are: if you don’t have a strict time table, willing to take crowded buses, stay in hostels, eat at local restaurants, then it can be REALLY cheap to travel here.
Hope you consider a trip to Peru – it is amazing!
This is great to know. Have you ever hiked to Machu Picchu via Salkantay? I’ve heard it’s pretty incredible and really want to try it :). Would love to hear your thoughts. Thanks again for the great tips!
Danielle @Dish'n'Dash says
I haven’t done the Salkantay trek but have a few friends who have done it. They loved it, though they described it as challenging at times. A friend who is a well-seasoned hiker is doing it in a couple of weeks so I’m looking forward to hearing his impressions of it. I myself have done the Lares trek and really enjoyed it. It was beautiful and very few other trekkers on the trail. If you are looking for a trekking company, I can personally recommend GAdventures.
Another trek to look into is Choquequirao. It is an in-and-out 4 or 5 day trek to a set of ruins that can only be accessed by hiking in. I had hoped to do this trek this year but a foot injury has put that plan on hold. You can combine it with a trip to Machu Picchu or, if you are really wanting an intense hike, you can do an 8 or 9 day trek first to Choque and then onto MaPi.
If you have any other questions, let me know!
Thanks, Danielle! This information is so helpful!! Looks like the trip is in the books for September so I will be researching/planning very soon and can’t wait to check out the options you’ve suggested. Thanks again for the info and offer of advice, I may take you up on that later :).
Thank you so much for sharing this. Loved the mythical story of Tambomachay, there is always something new and interesting to learn on trips 🙂 Even if its from – at least in my case – just reading about it. Wish I was there now.
Danielle @Dish'n'Dash says
Yay for good times in Cusco! Too bad you couldn’t to the rock slides at Saqsaywaman; they were a highlight for me.
So where you guys took the pictures by the ticket booth – kinda the valley between Saqsay and Christo Blanco is the path that leads almost right by my apartment building here. It’s a beautiful walk down into Cusco along the river with waterfalls.
Qoricancha is one of my fave places here; it was the temple of the people living in the lower part of Cusco while Saqsay was the temple for people living in the upper part. Saqsay makes up the head of the puma shape that Cusco was built in.
Enjoy MaPi! You will be amazed by it.
Amy H. @ Run with Perseverance says
Cool pictures! I love reading all your travel posts…I hope someday I can make it to some cool places, too!
BaileyA @fitphilanthropist says
I LOVE Peru! I went there the summer after my freshman year of high school. That trip was truly life-changing. What an amazing country with such an amazing Inka culture. What has been your favorite site so far? Will you be going to Machu Picchu?
Gina @ LifetotheFdegree says
Wow, it looks like your trip is amazing so far! Hope your family is feeling better!
Having had altitude sickness in the past I’m feeling it for your mom and sister … It’s like morningsickness, pms and a migraine all rolled I’m one.
Your sister and Ross are such a cute couple!! I laugh tho when I see it as my hubby and I went on vaycay w/my parents before we married. We were living together but that didn’t matter, the whole trip I bunked w/my mom and Gareth with my dad so it brings back memories of my much older than your parents “travel rules”!
Mallory P says
Eep- not sure if anyone mentioned this, but be careful with the coca tea- it can make you pop positive on a drug test. Just happened to a friend of mine at work.
Jess @ Blonde Ponytail says
Enjoy your trip and time with family! 🙂 Looks gorgeous there!! So jealous you’re in shorts right now (p.s. are those the Reebok CrossFit Board shorts?)–Spring is eluding us in the Midwest so I’m craving Vit D!
Michelle @ A Healthy Mrs says
Wow, looks like you’re having an amazing time so far! So much to see & do!
Can’t wait to see what else you get up to 🙂
That picture if Ross with the foggy glasses had my dying laughing! Haha I love your humor! Glad your having a great vacation!
Wow I spelled like eight words wrong in that comment.
The picture of you with your arm on your Dad’s is so sweet, it made me tear up a bit! Love the relationship you have been blessed with there-enjoy and appreciate every moment of it!
Bek @ Crave says
Thanks for the update of your travel 🙂 Keep enjoying it and hope everyone stays healthy x
I absolutely LOVE your bright minty colored shoes! I tried to see what brand they are, but I couldn’t tell from the pics. Could you please tell me the brand and model? I have been looking for a pair of shoes like those for what seems like forever!
Thank You! 🙂
julie @ peanut butter fingers says
They’re Nike Frees! I got them a year or so ago. They’re really comfy & I use them as my travel shoes b/c they have a small hole in them & I like to travel with shoes I don’t mind messing up a bit. I like them a lot!
Audrey @ In Shape Cupcake says
I love how the whole family is on the trip! You guys make a perfect vacation family. Looks so much fun though! I want to go there!
Bethany Glinski says
What fantastic picutres! I hope you have a fabulous time; what a welcome you received!
Emma @ a mom runs this town says
Trip looks awesome. Why wasn’t I invited 😉
Just to let you know you can buy choclo just like that here in the US! They sell it frozen though, but it’s still so good. Just look for it in Spanish stores in the freezer section! They are so good in soups or grilled with a bit of mayo and grated cheese 😉