I wanted to post all about our Peru trip as soon as possible but at the same time didn’t want to rush into it. I simply wanted to write a post that was short, precise and up to the point but at the same time highlighting our experience and challenges that we faced in a whole new country. Being our very first trip to south america we were nervous and excited all at the same time. We did a lot of research, read a lot of travel blogs and started making notes about all the important stuff. So please bear with me as it is going to be a long post since there are certain things that I just cannot leave out. Alas not a short post that I was hoping for :P.
This post will be divided in two parts, this post (Part 1) will be all about Huaraz and Cusco while the second part will be exclusively dedicated to Machu Picchu in another post :).
3) Coca Tea: Coca tea is also highly recommended for altitude sickness. Locals swear by it. It tastes somewhat like green tea. Coca tea will be served to you almost every place you go in Peru, it is easily available and cheap.
4) Do not take altitude sickness pills: Yes you read that right. When researching you will find many websites and blogs that may suggest you to take pills. But trust me, it will only make you feel worse. We heard lot of stories and also saw people getting terribly sick after taking these pills. You really don’t need them. Give yourself a day or two maybe 3 to acclimatize, but don’t take pills it will only make you more sick. Water is what helped me. After spending 4 days at Huaraz, Cusco was so easy and Machhu Picchu was a breeze because I was already acclimatized. But that doesn’t mean you should decrease the amount of water you drink in your entire trip.
5) Eat lots of carbs: Yup you read that right. Worried that you might end up gaining few pounds? Don’t. It will be the other way round. Even merely sitting on a chair at higher altitudes makes you loose calories :P. Because you will be burning a lot of energy while trying to adjust at higher altitudes. Fuel your body with the right carbs, eat lots of food and have fun :).
Travel smart and travel light. Below I have listed some important things to carry. I have also included things that will be needed if you are planning to go on a hike.
- Running or trekking shoes and an extra pair of shoe
- Long sleeve and high collar shirts (higher altitude means you will be more prone to sun burns)
- Sun Hats
- Sun glasses
- Toilet paper/wet papers
- Hand sanitizer
- Toiletries (toothbrush, soap, shampoo, toothpaste) soap and shampoo only if you are planning to stay at Llanganuco Mountain Lodge
- Mosquito repellent
- Compass (if you are planning to hike)
- Printouts of all the hotel bookings and flight bookings
- Backpack reservoir/Hydration Pack (very important if you are planning on hiking)
- Warm socks
- Camera (DSLR & waterproof)
- First aid kit
Some other helpful tips:
1) Carry change and enough cash: Carry bills and coins of smaller denominations. Apart from hotels and restaurants in the cities, you will find very few places that accept credit cards. Hence carry enough cash (soles) whenever you are out for sight seeing or shopping at local markets.
2) Be informed: Collect as much information as much as possible. For eg: Taxi fare from point A to point B. When we first arrived at Cusco airport, we ended up paying double the amount on taxi. From there on we made sure that we knew the expected amount of taxi fare. Just ask the person at the hotel reception and they will be more than happy to help you.
2) Learn some basic Spanish: Not mandatory but helpful. Although most of the hotel and restaurant staff speak English, locals rarely do. Find some time to learn the basics before you plan your vacation, it will make your trip more fun and memorable.
3) Do not flush toilet papers. Instead throw it in the dustbin.
4) Carry toilet papers and hand sanitizers: Many local restrooms/washrooms may not have toilet papers so do carry some with you when traveling.
5) Drink only bottled water: Drink water only from bottled water. It is not recommended to drink water directly from the tap unless you are planning to get sick :P. And carry bottled water at all times with you to avoid dehydration.
6) Be aware and be safe: We found Peru rather safe but when you are visiting a new country it is always better to take some precautions. Carry your passport with you at all times, do not flaunt too much cash or wear flashy jewelry or do anything that might catch unwanted attention.
Our first stop was Huaraz. This place is a hidden gem of Peru. Surrounded by mountains from all the sides, Huaraz is a dream destination for people seeking solace in the lap of nature. A perfect getaway from the hustle and bustle of the concrete jungles, pollution and the one thing that keeps us away from the outer world “Technology” or should I simply say social media :P.
We were totally off the grid for 4 days. And boyyyyy it was amazing. But make sure to inform you loved ones that you will be unable contact them when visiting this place.
|On our way to the Llanganuco Mountain Lodge|
Llanganuco Moutain Lodge:
|The Llanganuco Moutain Lodge|
|Made some friends at the lodge 😛|
Lake Llanganuco if simply put is just breathtaking. I have never seen such a beautiful place ever (till now). The glistening turquoise blue color of the water and the never ending majestic mountains simply didn’t look like they belonged to this world. Ok well… I might be exaggerating a bit 😛 but trust me I was at complete awe. Mother nature certainly has her way of surprising us. My altitude sickness just disappeared because I was transported to another world altogether. The lake is all glacial water and hence the beautiful color.
|The gorgeous lake Llanganuco|
|Strange and interesting looking tree|
|It keeps getting better and better|
|Now how could we miss a boat ride with all this beauty surrounding us.|
|The Hotel – Tierra Viva Cusco Saphi|
|Plaza de Aramas|
|Plaza de Aramas|
Being a foodie, the first thing the both of us did was look for some delicious food :D. We actually did some research while planning our trip on good restaurants at Cusco. Finally zeroed down on Cicciolina. The food here was so delicious that we came in again after our trip to Machu Picchu. A must visit restaurant indeed.
|The awesome food that we had at Cicciolina|
There are a lot of places for site seeing in and around Cusco. The popular ones being Centro Historico de Cusco also known as Plaza de Armas, Sacsayhuaman (historical ruins), Inca trail, Sacred Valley, Tambomachay, Qorikancha and many more. The best part is once you reach Cusco you will find many private tours and travels operating at every nook and cranny. We opted for a half day tour the next day since we had Machhu Picchu planned the day after and hence had to skip few of the popular attractions.
|Plaza de Aramas|
For our half day site seeing we selected the Maras Moray tour. The first stop was a local village where the village folks demonstrated some amazing skills. Things like how they procure wool, how they clean them using all natural and organic soap, how the wool is colored using natural colors etc. It was indeed very informative and entertaining at the same time.
Second stop was Salinas de maras or Salt mines. Situated at an elevation of 3380 in Urumbamba valley outside of Cusco, Peru, is a network of around 300 salt pans/pools which are filled by a hypersaline underground spring water believed to be developed in the pre Inca times. Very unique and one of a kind. It is definitely a sight to behold.
|Salinas de Maras|
|Salinas de Maras|
Hope you enjoyed this post. Check out Marvelous Peru – Part 2 Machu Picchu here. 🙂
HAPPY NEW YEAR 2016 EVERYONE. STAY HAPPY AND STAY BLESSED.