The drive was a doozy. It was 15 hours overnight through steep winding passes. The bus moved swiftly and constantly jerked side to side. While the reclining seats were lovely, it was hard not to get slightly ill on the long drive to Cusco. The poor mother and son who sat across the aisle from me couldn’t hold it together and were sick at least 3 times a piece. Eventually we arrived at our destination more than 11,000 feet up in the Peruvian Andes. We had made it to Cusco; the capital of the ancient Inca Kingdom.
Cusco was more beautiful than I expected. Due to its proximity to Machu Picchu and other incredible mountain treks, it sees massive amounts of tourists. The streets seemed cleaner, the food options better, and the ambiance slightly more relaxed. HOWEVER, the altitude was immediately noticeable. Walking the shortest distances would leave you with winded. The massive hills throughout the city did not help with this. The thin air was not the only thing that could leave you breathless. The architecture of the city and its Spanish style cathedrals was magnificent.
I spent my first 2 days exploring the city and adjusting to the altitude. My hostel, The Wild Rover, was quite nice and it did live up to its party reputation. I was able to watch the NE Patriots defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC championship game which was lovely. It was even sweeter watching it with a steelers fan who brought his own ‘terrible towel’ with him from home.
When I felt my body was ready for the mountains, I decided to book one of the more popular treks in the city’ the Inca Jungle Trek. It was a 4 day excursion that would end at Machu Picchu. I signed up with a few new friends and packed my HikePro. The next morning we loaded up a van and headed up higher into the mountains…