Where do I even begin? I still smile and feel giddy every time I think about our trip to Peru. Peru is an incredible country and there are so many sites to see and things to do. Our trip lasted 8 days and in hindsight we wish we would have booked the trip for at least 10-14 days to be able to explore a little more of the country. Nonetheless, we enjoyed every moment while we were there.
Our adventure started off with a flight to Lima where we spent the first and last day of our trip. Lima is a coastal city with beautiful cliffside ocean views. During our first day there we explored Mira Flores and our last day was spent in the Capital District. These two areas were very different and each had a distinct vibe.
After spending our first night eating fresh, delicious seafood in the very humid & temperate climate of Lima we hopped on a plane for Cusco, Peru. Cusco is located in the Andes Mountains at 11,152 feet above sea level and is considered the gateway to Machu Picchu. From the airport in Cusco, we took an hour and a half car ride through the mountains to The Green House Villas nestled in the tiny village of Huaran. We spent three nights here in beautiful villas surrounded by panoramic views of the mountains.
Our first day at the villas began with a very early wake up call to begin our trek to Machu Picchu. This entailed a car ride to the town of Ollantaytambo where we hopped on a train to the village of Aguas Calientes. Once in Aguas Calientes, we began our hike up to Machu Picchu. We chose to take the 1.7 km (1.06 mi) trail–instead of the bus–that brought us to the entrance gate. When we purchased our tickets (make sure you do this in advance as they are not available at the gate), we bought a combination ticket that included the Machu Picchu and Montaña Machupicchu (aka Machu Picchu Mountain) which required us to complete an additional hike for the breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape. Montaña Machupicchu is located to the southwest of the Machu Picchu citadel towering 3,061.28 m (10,043 ft) above sea level. This hike was approximately 1.95 km (1.21 mi) and was challenging, but the views from the top made every step worth it. In addition to the incredible mountain views, the ruins at Machu Picchu were awe-inspiring . We took in the view from various angles and explored the ruins from top to bottom. It was such an incredible day filled with a fantastic history lesson.
Day two at the Green House Villas started with a hike to the Huaran waterfall. We traversed through surrounding fields and around houses scattered along the waterway at the base of the mountains. It was a beautiful hike and a great way to encounter locals carrying out their daily routines and rituals. We had a picnic lunch at the waterfall and on our way back we explored the little village of Huaran. Huaran is not a tourist town which allowed us to capture and gain a better understanding of how the local people and Peruvians in the Sacred Valley live.
The following day, we encountered similar experiences in Ollantaytambo. Ollantaytambo is a charming village set on the Urubamba River with surrounding mountain views. It was filled with Inca-era cobblestone streets , adobe buildings and Inca ruins. It made for the the perfect afternoon for our last day in the Sacred Valley.
The drive from Ollantaytambo back to Cusco was incredible. The winding roads are surrounded by stunning views of the Andes Mountains, villages, towns and even road side stops with llama herds and shops.
The next several days were spent exploring the city of Cusco. We absolutely loved this city. There is so much history and culture everywhere you look. We took a free walking tour and learned a great deal of information about the history of the city, it’s people and it’s architecture. The San Pedro Market was one of my favorite experiences we had while in Cusco and is an absolute must if you are traveling there. We ate at various delicious restaurants and even ordered alpaca one night. On our last day in Cusco, we woke up early to explore a bit more and take photos before the city awoke. We enjoyed coffee on a balcony of a local cafe overlooking the city square. It was the perfect spot to relax and watch the daily hustle and bustle of the city begin. We were definitely sad to leave when we hopped in a cab to catch our flight back to Lima.
Once back in Lima, we took this time to explore the Capital District where the Presidential Palace and Plaza Mayor de Lima are located. There is a very large Spanish influence in the architecture surrounding Plaza Mayor de Lima. While in the area, we toured a few of the churches, walked the streets filled with vendors and caught the changing of the guards at the Presidential Palace.
In the short time we were in Peru we saw and learned so much about the beautiful country and it’s culture. Peru has so much to offer. It is an incredible country with innumerable sites to see and places to go. There were so many things we didn’t have a chance to see or visit and would definitely go back again.
Thanks for reading and be sure to check back again soon. I’ll be sharing a few more detailed posts about each part of our trip in the coming weeks.