- Hike the Inca trail
- Explore the plazas and markets in Cusco
- Sunrise at Machu Picchu ruins
- Sacred Valley tour: Chinchero weaver’s market, salt mines, and Incan ruins
- Get a prescription for high-altitude medicine
- Be prepared for the Inca trail hike
- Eat: Alpaca, guinea pig, aji de Gallina, lomo saltado
- American dollars are widely accepted (small bills)
- Hotel Recommendations:
- Restaurant Recommendations:
It had always been a dream of mine to hike the Inca Trail. We didn’t have time to hike the whole thing, but we arranged to hike the last 12km of the trail that end at Machu Picchu. It took us about 7 hours and was quite the experience! We spent a day in Cusco and a day in Ollantaytambo to get ourselves acclimatized to the high altitude. The trail was narrow and windy, cut into the side of the mountain – no railings – and with 1000+ft drops! We hiked past waterfalls and ancient ruins and had amazing views of the Andes and the valleys and rivers below. It was tough physically but so rewarding. There were parts that were so steep –like the “gringo killer” stairs! To this day, I don’t know if our guide Klever was just teasing us or if that’s what the stairs are really called. No matter, we set our minds to kicking those stairs’ butts.
When we finally arrived at the end of the trail, I was so tired and in a small amount of pain. The hike was therapeutic for me and was something I’ve been dreaming of accomplishing in my life. For me to be able to do it for my 30th birthday was something of a milestone for me. So at the end, when I got my first glimpse of the famous Machu Picchu ruins, I started crying from relief, joy, and a hundred other emotions. We spent the rest of the evening taking it all in. We were able to return the next day to spend more time exploring the ruins. One of the most beautiful sights I’ve ever seen was the sun rising from behind the Andes mountains and illuminating the ruins in a beautiful warm light. I loved hearing about the history, culture, and legends of the Incan people in such a mystical and spiritual place.