Cusco was the real start of our Gadventures family’s journey as it was the first guided tour day by Gadventures.
At elevation of 3,399m, it was intended for us to stay a day in Cusco in order to acclimatize to be ready for the Inca Trail where the highest point at Dead Woman’s pass is 4,215m. Although most of us already had taken altitude sickness prevention medication, we still eagerly drank the coca tea provided as it is a popular method in the Andes for altitude sickness prevention. We all made many jokes on how coca tea was a drug because (according to Wiki) they contain alkaloids which when chemically extracted are the source for cocaine base.
I’m not too sure if it works or does not work for me (or even if the medication worked) – but I luckily did not have any altitude sickness except for occasional tingly feeling hands/feet; which many others had at times as well. We think its likely due to the altitude as it is not a symptom we have regularly – and just too coincidental for us to all have!
Early in the morning we met up with our Cusco guide Miguel who brought us from the airport to our hotel to drop off our bags. He also brought us around to the main Cusco landmarks. I wasn’t sure if the tour was free or not pre-trip so I had made my own itinerary in Cusco. As Cusco is quite small, unsurprisingly, our itinerary were near identical.
Miguel brought us to Cusco’s main square (Plaza de Armas), and the famous Inca Wall (Hatunrumiyoc) where there is a 12 angled stone. I feel like there was a longer story on why this specific stone was important but….to be honest I wasn’t fully paying attention and had hoped that Google would easily advise me later. However all I can find right now is that it is the most perfectly defined stone with so many angles, which is a pride of Peru to showcase their craftsmanship.
See the tile for yourself, and also me being the rebel that I am touching the wall which we are not supposed to :)
Miguel also talked to us about a site that I had originally wanted to visit too, Saksaywaman. AKA Sexywoman per Miguel as many tourists cannot pronounce it properly. Saksaywaman was henceforth only spoken by us as Sexywoman. At one point on the bus ride we passed by some large rock site and I said to Alicia “is that the sexy woman??” and she replies “oooh, maybe that’s her cavern ;) “. I died.
After lunch the guided tour with Miguel ended and we were free to tour the city on our own. A few of us went to check out the Choco Museum (Alicia and I missed visiting the one in Lima, and we heard it was free…plus, it’s chocolate!). The museum was lots of fun, we had a sales staff that was extremely friendly and knew how to work with a crowd – giving us lots of free chocolate samples (even chocolate liquor shots!!), and joking with us about coca tea origins.
He was great, except I have to admit I forgot his name :'(
Afterwards only Alicia and I had the energy to continue to tour more and headed towards San Pedro Market – a very local style food and merchandise market. I feel like I should’ve bought my souvenirs and alpacca/llama fur goods here but there were just so many stores and vendors that it was too overwhelming and difficult to choose from.
Overall, I enjoyed Cusco more than Lima. Maybe it was because we weren’t as rushed, and maybe also because we got to travel together as a big group, and that is always fun!