Most of our time in Cusco was spent hanging out in the hostel and/or Starbucks, using the free wifi and skyping. It was ridiculously lovely to have time to do nothing, after 10 weeks of sightseeing. Even fun things get a bit wearing after a while. Also, the food in Cusco is amazing – proper international cuisine. If anyone goes to Cusco… go to Jack’s. We must have eaten there 6 times – such beautiful comfort food, including a reasonable effort at an Irish breakfast. Kate seal of approval. We also attempted to be active a little bit, and did a walking tour one of the days, and walked through some of the Inca ruins on another. But mostly we did nothing.
In the middle of this oasis of peace came… the Inca Trail. We did the “actual” Inca Trail, having booked it months in advance. We did not hire porters and carried all our stuff ourselves. This, anyone who wants to do it, is a mistake. Hire the porter. It costs like $30 and will SAVE YOUR LIFE. Anyway. Yes. The Trail was ridiculously hard. Crazy uphill treks, thousands of steps downhill with achy quads and calves, altitude sickness, waking up with teeth chattering, overdosing on coca leaves, icy cold showers, mud, rain, the most disgusting toilets in the world… Blood, sweat and tears (luckily more sweat and tears than blood) went into it. I have been on a grand total of ONE trek before and I have NEVER camped before. So yeah. You can imagine how I found it – but Michael didn’t find it that much easier!
On the plus side, we had the best group to do it with ever and I was really sad that they all couldn’t come with us for the rest of our trip. Genuinely. Best. Group. Ever. Also, the food was amazing. I can’t believe that they managed to serve food that good after days of hiking up mountains. It was better food than I’ve gotten in some restaurants. And I’m told the camping equipment was good. I have nothing to compare it to. My reaction to the tent was “this is really really small…” to which Michael’s response was “um, this is actually a really big tent!”
And on the very very very plus side – Machu Picchu is amazing. We had the best weather imaginable for it too; the sun shone and we had fantastically clear skies. Lucky us! This meant fantastic photos (see below!). I don’t really have adequate words for how amazing it was, so go look at the pictures.
We spent a few hours in the hot springs of Aguas Calientes to soothe our aching muscles afterwards and headed back to Cusco, where we spent another few days blissfully doing nothing and eating in Jack’s!