After our longer-than-foreseen stay in Bolivia we were excited to cross borders at the Lake Titicaca and enter Peru! From Copacabana on the Bolivian side of the lake it takes 4 hours (30 bols pp) by bus to reach Puno on the Peruvian side of the lake. The bus stops at the border, everybody disembarks to go through customs and steps back in on the other side. If you want to change some dollars there are some stalls around but again bring clean and recent notes, they refused to exchange some of ours as they were stained and kind of discoloured 😶.
We spent only 1 night in Puno and booked a late and cheap (20 soles / 7 usd) visit to the floating islands. Very touristy of course but nonetheless interesting.
The next day we took a night bus to Cusco (40 Sol pp) and arrived around 9.00 am. Our Airbnb was located a bit outside of town center in a quarter called Santa Beatriz. Our hosts Kettlin and Eduardo were a young and really friendly couple who spoke good English but also ‘educative Spanish’ – it was nice and helpful to have somebody trying to teach us by speaking slow and translating^^. They also served a different breakfast every day (one of the only Airbnb where we had this), simply perfect! They were having breakfast with us every day and shared a lot of their experiences and thoughts. Great stay and encounter overall.
Cusco itself is a cute colonial town with a lush green Plaza de Armas surrounded by arcades, the ‘Iglesia de la Compañía de Jesús’ church and the majestic Cathedral of Santo Domingo. Add to this, numerous little cobble streets, ancient Inca ruins and Inca wall elements throughout the city and you have a city worth exploring for a few days. We also enjoyed the San Pedro market and street food stalls to discover the famous Peruvian food! On one Saturday we visited the Baratillo flea market, colourful to say the least and definitely worth a visit just to have a flair of the actual Peruvian way of life.
Our host Kettlin is an archaeologist so she pointed out all the historical sites of the Inka or Pre-Inka civilization.
Usually we are no freaks for culture or museums but Randy likes ancient cultures so we invested in a ‘boleto turistico’. It is 130 Sol (around 40$) which is definitely expensive but its valid for 10 days and there are 14 sites and Museum around Cusco and the Sacred Valley included.
Kettlin explained us how to visit Tambomachay, Puka Pukara, Q’enqo and Saqsayhuaman (pronounced a bit like “Sexywoman” haha) by local bus and walking, so we ended up saving a lot on this. The most impressive site is definitely Saqsayhuaman, with its walls made of cyclopean stones assembled without mortar it’s a masterpiece of human engineering and it makes you wonder how they did it. We were lucky to have beautiful weather and the way from one site to the other took us through the country side outside Cusco – so pretty! We also saw some more of our favourite furry friends – the Alpacas 🙂
Oviously most people come to Cusco before or after visiting Machu Picchu and you will find countless agencies proposing treks or transportation to the famous site. We decided to organise our tour ourselves, including multiple stops in the Sacred Valley. We were lucky enough to be able to leave our luggage at our Airbnb and only leave with our small bags for the next days.
I will leave you with a few more pictures and will explain how we organised our trip to the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu in the next post!