Some of these things I accomplished, and others were mentioned to me along my route as recommendations for my family to see when they return in September.
- When flying into Cus(z)co from Lima, try to get seats on the left side (A&B) and look for Mt. Salkantay as you get near the city. It is the largest white peak about 15 minutes before landing, and this was the peak of my hike during my 5 day trip from Cuzco to Macchu Picchu.
- Before taking off for the mountains via plane, make sure to take an altitude pill. When you land, grab a handful of coca leaves in the airport and chew them up to help with the altitude sickness. I live in Colorado and it still affected me – lightheaded dizziness, slight nausea, and fatigue.
- Saksaywaman – Apparently beautiful Incan ruins near Cus(z)co.
- Písac – Sacred Valley of the Incans, although I wouldn’t know myself because we stayed outside Cuzco most of the time so I didn’t see this.
- San Blas II – Formerly known as “Arcangel,” this hotel belongs to my friend’s aunt’s friend. It is where we stayed on our final night in Cuzco, and I was lucky enough to have a little balcony overlooking the medieval style roofs where I drank a beer to celebrate my pilgrimage and watched the sun set.
- The artisan market in a little square by “Piedra de 12” in Cuzco has great souvenirs. I grabbed some “alpaca” (not real if they’re less than USD$100) sweaters for family back home. Across the street from the Piedra there is a little doorway leading to a garden plaza, and if you walk all the way back to the left there is another tiny door that opens up into a small art gallery with an incredibly talented local artist and some beautiful work. I grabbed a watercolor he had done of the nearby streets.
- Miraflores – The hot spot for restaurants and nightlife. I especially liked the smaller bars along the cobblestone roads, but the larger bars on the water were too large and “talked up” for me.
- Lima’s Water Show – I didn’t get a chance to do this but it is listed as one of TIME’s Top 10 things to do in Lima and looks beautiful. It’s on Wednesday through Sunday from 4 to 10 pm.
- Catacombas de San Francisco – These were incredible, intriguing, heart breaking, and important. They remind you that traveling to Peru is not just about the beautiful culture, but about the ugly that led this strong country to where it finally is now. Entrance fee is about S/7 or USD$2.50, and well worth the tour to learn about the Spanish Inquisition and the relationship between violence and religion in South America.
- Tip Top – Locals’ favorite, and rightfully so, for burgers and milkshakes and lucuma-flavored ice cream. It’s an old-school 60s-style drive-in restaurant where they will even bring the food to your car if you’d like them to.