After an uncomfortable, overnight bus ride on curvy mountain roads, we finally arrived at the second stop of our Peru trip – Cusco (Cuzco), the capital of the ancient Inca empire. Our original plan was to fly from Puerto Maldonado to Cusco, but due to a combination of weather and air traffic controllers being on strike, our best option was to take the bus.
Due to it’s high elevation, visitors often experience altitude sickness. Our tour guide recommended we drink coca tea in the morning as well as gatorade throughout the day.
We first grabbed lunch at Inka Grill, which is right on the Plaza de Armas (the city square) and a very quick walk from our hotel (Hotel Costa del Sol Ramada Cusco). We had lomo saltado, aji de gallina, and grilled trout.
Our first stop was a scenic view point above the city where we had a great view overseeing the city. We then headed to Saksaywama, which looks like a fortress with its walls built out blocks of huge stones. Nowadays, the historic site is used for a festival to celebrate the solstice.
Afterwards, we visited Tambomachay, which is believed to be a site for water rituals.
After visiting the ancient Inca sites, we went back into to the main square of the city where there is cathedral with evidence of heavy Spanish influence.
Since August is during the winter time in Peru, temperatures drop in the evenings. I really enjoyed walking around Cusco at night, especially enjoying the view of surrounding light from the steps of the cathedral in the city square. The streets are cobblestone and got a little slippery at times.
We ate dinner at Pachapapa, which has a charming, heated outdoor courtyard dining area option. There is an outdoor brick oven where several of the dishes are cooked. I enjoyed ceviche and chicha morada, a sweet drink made from purple corn with a hint of cinnamon.