I had such a wonderful time exploring Cusco, Aguas Calientes and Machu Picchu, Peru 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.
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So after enjoying the beaches of Lima, we jumped on a plane and arrived in Cusco. Cusco was absolutely gorgeous! There were 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 drank lots of agua de coca.
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 rectangular 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.
My favorite thing that we did in Cusco was visiting the Choco Museo (Chocolate Museum). It was super fun and we even got to take a class and make our own chocolates from scratch. We crushed the cacao beans and everything and got to taste Peruvian hot chocolate. The workshop we did was called the Bean to Bar Workshop.
Cusco’s Choco Museo has a variety of other workshops you can take. Some of these include a Truffle Workshop, a Cooking Class, a Mini Chocolate Workshop and more. The museum also does birthday parties and a Plantations Tour.
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 was unable to find Afterbite, so try to remember to bring your own if you can. 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.
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.
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 Huayna Picchu 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 still can’t believe we got to see it. If you ever get the chance to go definitely visit Machu Picchu but make sure you use this website to book your tickets instead of the one we used.
There are a few different ways that you can get from Cusco to Machu Picchu. We took a bus, stayed overnight in Aguas Calientes and then took another bus. You can also take a train to Machu Picchu or you can access the historic site by a multi day hike.
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.
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 for Sustainable Travel. 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.