Days 1-3: The Journey to Peru and Urubamba
Trip Start Oct 15, 2013
35Trip End Ongoing
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At the end of the next 31 hours we really knew what pure exhaustion felt like as we arrived at our destination in Cusco, Peru with maybe 3 hours of sleep total on airport benches and in the air. Our series of 4 flights went smoothly and all took off on time. One highlight of our time at the airports included drinking our first cup of real Columbian coffee in the Bogota airport. We could really taste the difference from the imported stuff back in Canada. We had a 9 hour layover in Bogota, Columbia which at first we thought was awful, however we later found out Bogota is at an altitude of 8,600 ft which meant it was a great opportunity to start acclimatizing before we reached Cusco which sits at 11,200 ft
We arrived in Cusco, Peru on October 16th at 7 am local time. We grabbed our bags and walked outside to find our driver Rafael waiting with a big sign with our names on it. He drove us the 1.5 hour drive to our hostel in Urubamba for 28 USD. Pretty good considering back home a 20 minute trip from the airport to Cole Harbour is a 70 dollar rip.
Urubamba is a beautiful town which sits in the Sacred Valley surrounded by Rocky Mountains. They say a lot of travellers come here first for a few days to help with acclimatizing due to the lower elevation. Our original plan was to arrive at our hostel Llama Pack and crash, but after seeing how beautiful the town was we had to spend a few hours walking around.
We were greeted at our hostel doors by the owner Alejandra and her 2 year old son. She was the nicest host I've ever met. She took 45 minutes to show us around the property and explain to us things to do in town. She even offered for us to come out with her for a bite to eat. She made us a pot of coca tea which helps people to adjust to the altitude, and we laid in the hammocks outside for a good hour while Alejandra finished some gardening
We made our way to the market for lunch and grabbed a plate of food each from a different lady. I ordered a safer meal of chicken and rice and Matt simply pointed to a pot of food to order. Little did he know until after his first bite he ordered tripe, which is pigs intestines. I really enjoyed my meal but Matt couldn't handle more than a single bite so we walked to a restaurant Alejandra recommended called Kaia where he got a nice bowl of pasta and a yummy glass of fresh passionfruit juice. Kaia was a really cool restaurant with a play area out back for children to play while the women sit and chat.
When we got back to the hostel at 2 pm we fell asleep for a 5 hour nap. Guess we needed it.
Our first impression of Peru after our first day was better than what we expected it would be. Beautiful, amazing culture, and friendly locals. We did not see one American store or restaurant and saw maybe 8 tourists throughout the whole time in the town. Also instead of big box stores around each corner you find bakeries, wine stores, veggie stands and butcher shops. The locals all wear traditional Peruvian attire.
On our second day in Urubamba, we awoke to delicious fresh bread and jams made by Alejandra and coffee for breakfast. We quickly got ready to start an hour trek through the mountains with Alejandra and her husband Koki. They were taking us to see where they train the communities' llamas. The two of them started a project a couple of years back to raise awareness of llamas to get the nearby communities to start using llamas instead of mules and horses (which are less Eco-friendly)
We continued on up through the mountains for a few hours with hopes to find the Pacha ruins. After getting lost multiple times we decided to turn back to avoid altitude sickness and dehydrating. On our way down we came across a hut in the middle of nowhere with a sign saying "cervesa" out front. We went in and may have awoken the lady asleep in her hammock, although she did look excited to have customers. We ordered a "small" beer each which turned out to be 630 ml bottles. At that altitude we felt the beers more than we normally world. It just made the rest of the trek down more enjoyable!
We walked straight to the town to get some lunch and decided on wood fired oven pizza (which was amazing). We then grabbed a bottle of wine and some fresh bread and headed back to the hostel. Ten minutes after we got there the sky opened up and started thundering with torrential downpours. We spent the rest of the evening with the other guests and sipping on some Chilean wine! Tomorrow it's off to Ollantaytambo.