Cusco and the Inca trail, or the one where we have visitors from home!

Even after a couple of days rest in Lima, nothing was going to get me back on another night bus for a little while. With flights not too expensive and about 20x faster than the bus, we took one of our only internal planes and arrived in Cusco within the space of a couple of hours. The town itself took a bit of getting used to. We were catapulted back into full on tourist town – street sellers every few steps and wealthy tourists everywhere. Still, it managed to stay a beautiful city with plenty to see and do, so you couldn’t begrudge the hordes that much, and in time it was a really nice place to get to know. We spent a long time in and out of the Cusco area. I’ll try and split it into parts.

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Beautiful Cusco

Pre parental arrival
If you read my blog posts around the beginning of the year, you may remember one of our San Blas travel companions, Brianna, who we stuck round with til Santa Marta. Timing worked out well for us in that she arrived in Cusco the same day as us (but slightly earlier) so she found us a hostel to join her at when we got there. This was in the artsy (and aptly named) San Blas area of Cusco, and although there were a ton of steps to get to it (not an easy climb at altitude), we did get beautiful views over the city.

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Views: the one upside of climbing all the steps

It was so lovely to catch up, especially as Bri had plenty of interesting stories to fill us in on from the time since we last saw her, and we spent a lot of time just wandering around the city. The second night we changed hostel as the first one had been slightly odd (mainly just like we were staying in someone’s house, but someone who wasn’t always around to bother to let us in) and had some pisco sours round the flat of a friend of a friend of Bri’s who lived in Cusco. He’s a singer so got out his guitar. Fantastic singing by all of us ensued, obviously.

Introducing our mothers to Peru
One of the fun things about Cusco was that both of our mums and Rav’s aunt were coming to join us there to do the Inca trail with us. Having not seen any of them for 5 months it was a lovely reunion, plus also an excuse for us to stay in a nice apartment and eat lots of nice food for a little while. It was a totally different travel experience, and a very comfortable one, as we were around people we knew and basically just got to feel more like being on holiday.

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Market shopping with the family

We wandered markets, went to some cool museums, and generally did a lot of what we usually do but it was fun to have people around who were new to Peru and we could look like we knew some stuff. Even if that stuff was just what lomo saltado was and how to ask how to get the hot water to work.

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We went to a chocolate museum. Best hot chocolate ever...

The Inca trail
This was the big thing for us, the thing we’d booked well before we had even taken our flight out from England  (you need to book ages in advance) and finally it came. The trail is 3 and a bit days of walking up and down the sacred inca route to Machu Picchu, and is pretty tough but one of the most enjoyable things I think I’ve done. I’m just going to do this one in pictures/captions but I don’t think they’ll capture just how stunning it was…

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The classic 'ready to start the trail' picture. I loved our group!
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Day 1 wasn't too terribly hard so we could just enjoy the views
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Taking a break for some lunch. The food was incredible
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Day 2 got tricky as all morning was uphill...
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It was also rainy so high fashion was in order
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The seemingly never ending climb to dead woman's pass
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The mother daughter team triumphantly reach the highest point of the trail (4215m)
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Day 3 brought even more climbing, lots of ups and downs
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The weather mainly looked like this. Pretty, but hid the views a bit
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We hung out on a bunch of inca ruins
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It was probably the most beautiful day of the trail, despite the clouds

After Day 3?
I’ll write the rest of it up later! Or else hostel wifi will never let me upload all these pictures… So stay tuned for our arrival at Machu Picchu and the few days we still had left with our families before getting back to backpacker reality…

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