Hikes Things to do in Cusco Peru incl. Machu Picchu Lares Trek Rainbow

Hola from Peru. In this post, I’m going to show you around Cusco and the Cusco region, one of my favorite areas in the country. In partnership with G Adventures, I will introduce you to an alternative Machu Picchu experience with the Lares Trek and the Sacred Valley, not to mention all the delicious Peruvian dishes I’m going to try. Are you ready to explore? Vamanos. Of course, we need to start this post here in the historical center of Cusco with a little walking tour to introduce you to this beautiful city. We’re now at the Plaza de Armas where you can find most of the historic buildings, and it’s also the right place to tell you that Cusco was the capital of the Inca Empire from the th to the th century, and is still the cultural capital of Peru. Cusco stands on layers of cultures with the old Inca empire built on indigenous Killke structures, and the Spanish replacing indigenous temples with catholic churches and palaces with mansions for the invaders. Because of its antiquity and importance, the city center retains many buildings, plaza, streets and churches of pre-Columbian times and colonial buildings which led to its declaration as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in.

Hikes Things to do in Cusco Peru incl. Machu Picchu Lares Trek Rainbow Photo Gallery

This is La Cusquenita, one of my favorite food places here in Cusco, and here we’re going to try another typical Peruvian dish called Aji de Gallina. So, lunch has arrived and I got Chicha Morada, which is an alcohol-free drink made out of purple corn which is sweet, but not too sweet. And Aji De Gallina, a chicken stew made with cream, cheese, hot pepper and peanuts, and it’s super delicious. It’s really good We’re now taking the bus uphill. With this altitude here, it’s better to take the bus than to walk, believe me. After a -minute bus ride, we arrived here, and it’s really quite a nice area, and this is part of the Saksaywaman Inca complex which is right above Cusco. And we’re now going to one of the three temples because actually for the main ruins, you have to pay, but there are also some free temples, like the Temple of the Moon, so that’s where we’re going. Saksaywaman is a citadel on the northern outskirts of the city. Sections were first built by the Killke culture about AD. The complex was expanded and added to by the Inca from the th century. Following the siege of Cusco, the Spaniards began to use Saksaywaman as a source of stones for building Spanish Cusco. Nevertheless, some of the big impressive structures are still visible today as the massive stones used to build them were simply too large to be removed. And also, up here on the Saksaywaman complex, you have an Inca trail which leads down to Cusco, so basically, the Incas used all these trails to connect the cities and we can walk on this one as well down to the city.

Beside main square and its churches, the Barrio de San Blas is one of the most picturesque areas to visit, being one of the oldest neighborhoods. Most of the houses actually have Inca foundations. With its narrow streets and lovely views, it is a great area to go for a walk and pop into one of the many cute little shops. It’s breakfast time and my favorite place in Cusco for breakfast is Jack’s Café. Pancakes! To get a taste of local life, you shouldn’t miss out on visiting the San Pedro market which is one of the most vivid local markets in Peru. And if there’s just one thing you buy in San Pedro market, then it should be a juice. So, I’m here at a fruit place with Vanessa and she’s preparing an orange and mango juice for me. Very nice. And this is for Soles which is like Euros. Of course, we can’t leave Peru without having Ceviche. So, I went to Barrio Ceviche which is a restaurant here at the Plaza de Armas in Cusco, and I ordered Tiradito, which is a special version of Ceviche. Ceviche covered with yellow sauce made from hot pepper. Super delicious. So, let’s dig in. Good morning. I got up really early today at o’clock to make my way up into the Andes because I’m going to take on the hike to the Rainbow Mountains today. Weather looks good. I hope we see some colors. Although there are a few small villages around the place, Vinicunca, aka Rainbow Mountain, was only discovered for tourism in, and has become more and more popular each year. Due to its altitude and remote location, the mountain can only be accessed by hiking up to, meters.

So, after a bit more than two hours of hiking at an altitude of about, meters to the Mirador where we can see the Rainbow Mountain, and on the other side, you see mountain Ausangate, which is the holy mountain of the Incas and has an altitude of, meters. It’s a really impressive panorama. Let me say about this trek is it is much harder than I thought, especially with the altitude. You should maybe train a little bit before you come to Cusco anyway before you do these treks in this altitude. So, after some acclimatization here in Cusco, the time has finally come where I’m joining the Lares trek tour with G Adventures. But before we start trekking tomorrow, we have a little tour of the Sacred Valley and a last view back to Cusco up here from the Saksaywaman, and the white Christ statue. One of the reasons why I decided to partner up with G Adventures is their investment and support of local community projects through the NGO called Planeterra. One of those projects is the women weaving project. We get to learn more about here and it’s probably also one of the best places to go shopping. We arrived at the Sacred Valley of the Incas which is beautiful, and our first stop are the Inca ruins of Pisac. The ruins of Inca Pisac lie at the top of a hill at the entrance to the Sacred Valley. With military, religious and agricultural structures, the site served at least a triple purpose. Researchers believed that Pisac defended the southern entrance to the Sacred Valley while Choquequirao defended the western entrance, and the fortress at Ollantaytambo the northern. Inca Pisac controlled a route which connected the Inca Empire with the border of the rainforest. It’s lunch time and for lunch, we’re at a restaurant, another social project by G Adventures. We went to Ollantaytambo which is not only a beautiful city and the starting part of the Inca trail and for the rail to Machu Picchu town, it also has a lot of Inca sites that we need to climb as well. It’s pretty impressive. During the Inca empire, Ollantaytambo was the royal estate of Emperor Pachakuti who conquered the region, built the town and the ceremonial center. The Emperor rebuilt the town with sumptuous constructions and undertook extensive works of terracing and irrigation in the Urubamba Valley.

The town provided lodging for the Inca nobility while the terraces were farmed by the yanakuna, retainers of the Emperor. At the time of the Spanish conquest of Peru, it served as a stronghold for Manco Inca Yupanqui, leader of the Inca resistance. Today is the day where we start trekking but we start actually in the town at the local market to get some fruits for the trek and for the people we meet. And so it begins. We’re starting on the Lares Trek now, packing up and here’s our hiking group. Mary from Australia, Nadine and Martin from Germany, Steve from the UK and Danielle, our guide. Let’s do this. Easy hike. Easy hike. We are kind of training for tomorrow because tomorrow is a more challenging day. That’s a banana with a view. We’ve arrived at our lunch spot. The tent has already been set up and it is so comfortable. This is where we’re going to have lunch. Back on track, and hiking to our campsite, the first camp site of the Lares Trek. We arrived at our first camp in Cuncani which is also a community project by Planeterra and G adventures so we will get changed and then we’ll have dinner. So Marco is doing his magic here. This is where the magic happens Good morning, it’s breakfast time and we have quinoa porridge and I have a hummingbird pancake. Packing up, filling up the water bottles and we’re good to go. The view is just stunning and we also found some locals here. We made it to, meters to the Yanacocha lake, it’s two hours more, but look at this group, all warriors! We’re now about four hours into the hike, it’s all the way up. We are on approximately, meters. Up there seems to be the pass, meters and this is where we came from. Passed by all these beautiful lagoons here, really, really picturesque track. First to the top. First of the group. That’s a well-deserved Snickers break, my friends. I’ll have a look at the other side of the pass. Doesn’t look too bad down there. This is where we’re heading now. Lunch spot. What a beautiful location that is. Oh, if you’re wondering what this is; this is the toilet tent.

It’s a very long day so it’s now almost dark or it’s getting dark right now and we still have about maybe like minutes to go to the camp, and then it’s dinner time. Oh, the food here is so good. I’m looking forward to all the meals. So, this is the first. I arrived at camp with everyone except for my group. Isn’t this the best way to wake up? Alright packing up again, and then it’s the last day of the Lares Trek today. So here we can see the Whats app of the Inca times, there was basically post offices every kilometers and between, people would run and deliver messages. Super interesting. Good job brother, excellent job. We made it. Prost. We finished the Lares Trek. Prost, buddy. The Stevies made it. Steve has made it. We made it to Ollantaytambo and now we’re boarding the train to go to Aguas Calientes. We made it inside of Machu Picchu and we can’t see anything. The interesting thing about the Inca architecture is that they built the houses so that they are earthquake proof, so they’re reclining a little bit which you can see for example over here, and also at the gates. And all these houses, they’re a little bit like that. So, in this city, about people were living in the city all first and second class people, and it took about, people to construct Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail, which is more than just impressive. So, this used to be the quarry where they cut the stones out to build all those houses here at Machu Picchu. This is the sacred square. Machu Picchu was divided into three areas. You have the religious area which is in the center, this here, we have the urban area where the houses were, and you have the farming area, the terraces we’ve seen earlier. Until today, only % of Machu Picchu are actually excavated, the other % are still in process. So there’s more to come in the next few years. After waiting for a few hours, it finally cleared up. Huayna Picchu still has a little bit of clouds but they will also go away. That’s impressive. So, Huayna Picchu. We are standing on the Machu Picchu which means the ancient mountain, and down there is the city I’ve just shown you. Another really popular multi-day hike to also go to Machu Picchu at the end is the Salkantay track. Because I did so many hikes already, I decided to go for a day hike because this is possible. You can do the first day of the Salkantay track by going to the Humantay Lake. Over there is the Salkantay Mountain where the track goes along, and over there is the Humantay Mountain, and at the bottom of that is a beautiful lake. My friends, it looks easier than it is. The altitude is still killing me, even so I’m here for about two weeks now. Humantay, I’m coming for you. or better for your lagoon because up there is a little bit too much for today. Wow look at that ice and I forgot my whiskey. Oh man. Yes, Humuntay. Alright guys that’s it from Cusco and Peru. If you want to explore this city and the area around it as well, check out the related travel guide, and don’t forget to comment to this blog for new travel posts every Thursday.

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