Day 3 October 3
After a couple days in Lima, I flew to Cusco making my way to Machu Picchu. I flew out from Lima International Airport in the early morning. I arrived to the airport about 1 hour in advance (recommended by the concierge at the hotel) since it was only a domestic flight. When I arrived the airport, it was a chaotic mess! The line to check in was at least 2 hours long. There were many flights leaving in the morning and the airport was really busy. Luckily, I let the airlines know my flight was leaving soon and was able to skip a majority of the line. I ran to the gate and somehow made the flight! TIP: From experience, I recommend getting to the airport at least 2 hours in advance so you won't be a complete mess like I was.
One thing to be careful when traveling to Peru are the high altitudes. TIP: Work your way up to high altitude to prevent getting altitude sickness and get medication to help you adjust in advance. I was prescribed Acetazolamide by my doctor and it really helped me! I didn't have any trouble adjusting to the high altitude. Since my friend and I were jumping to such a high altitude, from Lima to Cusco, we decided to travel straight to Ollantaytambo.
Lima- 348 feet
Cusco- 11,152 feet
Ollantaytambo- 9,160 feet
Machu Picchu- 7,972 feet
We took 2.5/3 hours taxi to Ollantaytambo from Cusco airport (cost $28 each). We took a taxi instead of a collectivo or bus because we had large suitcases. Even though it cost a little bit more than we had expected, the taxi ride was so amazing! Our driver gave us a tour through the Sacred Valley. First we stopped to look at two large mountains: Chicon and Mount Victoria. Then we drove a little more to Chinchero and went to Ticka Huerta to learn how the Peruvian people make textiles from alpacas and llamas! It was so fascinating to see how the yarn was spun and dyed all by natural elements like salt, lemon, and parasites on the cactus plant. I definitely recommend doing this if you are in Peru!!
We arrived at Hotel Samanapaq around midday. The minute we entered the hotel, our jaws dropped! It was GORGEOUS! We stayed in a double standard room. The hotel room was clean, well lit, set to a comfortable temperature, and ready for us right when we checked in. The bathroom was a great size and taking a shower after traveling for hours felt amazing!
There are several different hotel options, but this was one of the best hotels I stayed in Peru during my whole trip. Hotel Samanapaq was a resort in itself and felt like a getaway! It is also really close to the center area of Ollantaytambo where there are many restaurants, bars, and shops.
Day 4 October 4
We had a big breakfast at hotel (all included) that was sooo good! The buffet was filled with eggs, potatoes with vegetables, croissants and other fresh bakes breads. homemade jam, ham and cheese, fresh fruit, and cereal. We also had cocoa tea which helped prevent altitude sickness. We took a tour around the hotel admiring all the beautiful plants and the green house. We relaxed on the hammocks just listening to the birds and looking at all the beautiful butterflies that were hovering over the flowers. That easily became my spot! I felt so relaxed and right at home.
Later in the day we took taxi to salt plains (Las Salineras) in Maras (cost $15 total). It was so amazing to see how salt is naturally made. The landscape of the salt plains were beautiful! The salt looked like little crystals when the sun was shining on it. This is a MUST SEE in Peru!
To get back to our hotel we took a public bus (cost 75 cents) and collectivo (mini bus- cost $1). Whenever I travel, I love to ride the country/ city's public transportation.
One of the unique things about Ollantaytambo is that the streets and alleys that exist today were made from the Incan people in 15th Century!! They are not the easiest streets to walk on since they are made of stones and a little uneven but it was still really cool!!
After a long day of exploring the city, we decided to head over to the Plaza de Armas and have a cold Peruvian Cusquena beer with papas fritas (fries) while looking at the view of the mountains and Inca ruins. For dinner, we ended up eating pizza since it was one of the most popular items in every restaurant.
Day 5 October 5
We had an amazing breakfast at the hotel and hung out in hammocks before we had to leave our paradise hotel.
Later that afternoon we took the Peru Rail to Machu Picchu station in Aguas Calientes. TIP: Make sure you buy the ticket before hand online. You need to pick up tickets before entering the train. Only 1 carry on size luggage allowed per passenger. No big luggages!! However, they will store luggage for you free of charge.
Off to Machu Picchu!!
Photography by Ashley Gallerani