CUSCO & THE SACRED VALLEY
Cusco is located at 3400m above sea level which is very high compared to Lima and we definitively felt a severe lack of energy on our first day due to altitude sickness. We took it easy, exploring the town with its colourful markets, beautiful architecture and rich culture. The streets are narrow and winding, perfect for wandering aimlessly to see what we could find around the next corner.
We were staying at Belmond Hotel Monasterio which was beautiful and a great base for exploring the town. Palacio Nazarenes which is next door more or less is also a great choice.
Belmont Sanctuary Lodge is the only place to stay if you want stay up close to the Machu Picchu site, but if this is full or not to your taste, there are other hotels down in Aguas Clients, which is where the train arrives and departs.
The old part of Cusco is filled with traces of its 3000 year history. It was the capital of the Inca Empire until the Spanish Conquest in the 16th century, so walking the streets seeing the ancient ruins and the baroque architecture is very interesting, and its worth reading up on the history before you go.
The next morning we had an early start and where excited to be on our way to Machu Picchu. Our chosen transport for this leg of the journey was the Belmond Hiram Bingham, which is an old Pullman style train form the 1920s, a perfect way to experience old school luxury whilst taking in the striking views whilst gliding through the landscape. Its expensive, but as a once in a lifetime fun and unique experience its really worth it. There is live music and Pisco Sours all the way, so its great fun and we meet some really great people.
We arrived at the Sanctuary Lodge in the late afternoon, just in time to have a walk around the site before closing time. Its hard to explain the beauty of the place, but it definitively didn't disappoint. The 15th century Inca citadel is placed on a sacred and special place, and being able to visit it is a truly special experience. Thankfully American explorer Hiram Bingham rediscovered the site in 1911 after it was abandoned during the Spanish Conquest.
The next morning we tracked to the top of Machu Picchu mountain (3061m) about 2,5hrs hike straight up to the peak. Its a beautiful hike, however quite steep, with stunning vegetation and spectacular vistas. In the evening we travelled back to Cuzco on the train again with our new found friends and fantastic memories.
Back in Cusco, the next day we decided to spend our last day exploring the Sacred Valley outside the town. There are so many sights to see and places to go, that with one day only its hard to decide what to see.
We decided to go to The village of Chinchero, MIL restaurant for lunch, and then the Moray Terraces and Maras Salt Mines. We had an amazing guide who took us out on a day filled with beauty and history.
After this, the following morning it was sadly time for us to pack our bags, filled with Peruvian textiles and memories for a lifetime. Seeing such a beautiful country with your best friend is truly a blessing, and we both felt incredibly lucky to have been on this mini adventure together. We are planning a new trip soon, we'll keep you posted on our next destination!
BELMONT HOTEL MONASTERIO, Calle Nazarenas 337, Cusco
BELMONT PALACIO NAZARENES, Calle Nazarenas 223, Cusco
BELMOND HIRAM BINGHAM train Cusco-Machu Picchu-Cusco
BELMOND SANCTUARY LODGE Machu Picchu, Carretera Hiram Bingham
MIL Centro, Vía a Moray, Maras
All photography by Marte Frisnes