Exploring Cusco, Aguas Calientes and Machu Picchu

I had such a wonderful time exploring Cusco, Aguas Calientes and Machu Picchu with my two friends Rebecca and Marisa. After relaxing in Lima for a few days we were all giddy with excitement as we headed off to see such a famous world wonder. Here’s a little taste of our time in each area.

Cusco, Peru

So after leaving our little paradise in Lima we jumped on a plane and arrived in Cusco. Cusco is everything I imagined South America to be like. Many women walking up and down the cobblestone streets dressed in colorful traditional clothes and holding baby lambs. Some even offering to let us pet their llamas and alpacas. We explored Cusco quite a bit for a few days. The food in Cusco is amazing. Almost every restaurant has healthy vegetarian and vegan options and everything is fresh. We had to be careful of altitude sickness again and we´ve been drinking lots of mate de coca.

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CUSCO

Pariwana Hostel

Our hostel, Pariwana, is definitely the best hostel I have ever stayed in. It’s absolutely huge and the building is a two story square shape with a beautiful courtyard in the middle. There are paintings and maps on the walls, ping pong and foosball tables outside and there´s so many places to just sit down and relax. They also have beer pong tournaments, salsa lessons and yoga classes regularly. Breakfast is free and everyone is very friendly. If you ever go to Cusco definitely stay at Pariwana Hostel.

Some of the things we did in Cusco included eating guinea pig and going to a chocolate factory. The chocolate factory was lots of fun. We even got to take a class and make our own chocolates from scratch. We crushed the cocao beans and everything and tried Peruvian hot chocolate. Next, we got amazing hot stone massages for super cheap and are planning on going for more massages again soon.

Chocolate Factory

Aguas Calientes

Beautiful town of Aquas Calientes River

After being in Cusco for a few days we took a train to Aguas Calientes which is the town just below Machu Picchu. It was nothing like what I expected. The town is very hilly and in the middle of a jungle. I got eaten alive by mosquitoes and have yet to find some good afterbite. I tried vinegar but it didn´t help much. The hostel we stayed at there was very cool too and was covered in beautiful paintings. It was the SuperTramp Hostel and I would also recommend it. We ended up going to the hot springs on our day there which were super relaxing and very cheap as well. Once again the food was incredible and we all slept well there.

Aguas Calientes Hot Springs in Peru

Machu Picchu

Can you tell I LOVED Machu Picchu? Photo by: Marisa Mordini

The next day we woke up, ate breakfast at the SuperTramp hostel and took a bus to Machu Picchu. Marisa and I thought we had bought our tickets online but it turns out the website wasn´t working properly and our tickets were only reservations meaning we hadn´t yet paid. We checked our bank accounts and sure enough we hadn´t paid. So we were about to enter Machu Picchu after a half hour bus ride and then realized that the two of us had to go all the way back down the mountain to buy our tickets.

Making friends at Machu Picchu. Photo by Rebecca Olsho.

Luckily the staff there were nice enough to help us pay online at the hotel there but it did mean we didn´t get to hike WaynuPicchu with Rebecca. For me this was okay as the altitude plus my asthma was making it difficult enough to even get to the lookout point at Machu Picchu. Marisa and I walked all through Machu Picchu and it was very surreal to say the least. I couldn´t and still can´t believe we got to see it. If you ever get the chance to go definitely visit Machu Picchu but I would say just buy your tickets when you get here because the website doesn´t work very well.

Our Machu Picchu adventure was yesterday and we got back to Cusco last night. This morning we had breakfast and are just checking emails and stuff right now. We are planning to go back to the chocolate museum , and get massages. Anyway tomorrow morning we all fly back to Lima and then I´m saying goodbye to Rebecca and Marisa as they head off to Buenos Aires, Argentina and Montevideo, Uruguay while I head back to Santiago to study for my last exam.

Peru has definitely been a huge highlight for me and I´m so thankful I got to come here.

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 Girl in front of Machu Picchu

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About The Author

April Thompson

April is the founder and main author for Just Leaving Footprints. She has written for numerous blogs and publications such as Explore Magazine and Snow Pak. April loves writing about sustainable tourism, and promoting other sustainable travelers on her Facebook Group and Instagram Community, Ladies Leaving Footprints. Currently, April is living and teaching English in Mexico City with her husband Arturo and they don’t plan on stopping their travels anytime soon.

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