It was Nancy’s birthday and we had an early morning pickup at our hotel in Lima, Tierra Viva Hotel. We had a flight to catch at 5am. Roger, our driver, was outside the hotel waiting for us at 2:15am as we all agreed. It took about 45 minutes to get to Lima International Airport. Since we did not have to worry about checking our luggage, we headed straight for security, and then to our gate.
A day prior to flying to Cusco, Nancy made sure for us to take Diamox, a prescription drug that will help us with change in altitude.
We arrived in Cusco a little after 7am. One of the main things we were anxious about was how we would do with the change in altitude in Cusco.
Upon landing, we had to deplane by going down the ladder down to the airport grounds. So far so good. We entered the airport, and we a ramp that zigzagged its way up. We pushed our carryons. To be honest, it was this zigzag ramp that got me out of breath, but other than that, I seemed to be okay.
Once We were greeted by Magnolia, she led us to the van that drove us into the the city.
We went directly to Hotel Abittare. We left our luggage at the hotel. The plan was to leave our two carryons at the hotel. Why? We wouldn’t be spending the night at this hotel on our Day One in Cusco. Hotel Abittare was the hotel we’d be staying at once we return from Machu Picchu on the next day.
Magnolia advised us that our tour group will leave the hotel around 8:30am. We had about an hour to relax in the hotel’s lobby. There were coca tea leaves that I used for my drink.
I added hot water and had that as my tea. I also chewed on coca leaves shortly thereafter. The leaves were supposed to help with the altitude adjustment.
Our tour bus/van arrived by 8:30am. We met our tour guide for the day, Wilfredo. We were with a group of folks from Toronto, and Tennessee. I was trying to check myself if I was getting sick because of the altitude, or if it was the driving that was getting me sick. You see, there were lots of turns around Cusco, and lots of bumpy roads, and cobblestoned paths. The drive wasn’t exactly smooth sailing. I just chose to close my eyes to avoid getting sick. BTW, I am not a stranger to headaches and migraines. Couple that with having very little to no sleep the night before, I think I was the perfect candidate to get some kind of sickness that day. I wouldn’t blame it entirely on the change of altitude.
For the rest of the day, Wilfredo guided us through PIsac and Ollantaytambo, with a lunch stop in Urubamba. Pisac was the first sight that gave us an inkling as to ingenuity of the Incas. One of the lasting images about Pisac were the agricultural terraces. It was built with precision.
Visiting Pisac also required a lot of uphill climbing. Combined that with out lack of sleep, it wasn’t the easiest thing. It was a good thing that our tour group was cool enough to make sure to wait for one another. We got to know a little bit of our group, most of them were from Toronto, and one was from Tennessee.
We had lunch in Tunupa, it was an all you can eat buffet. It was a beautiful restaurant, quite spacious. We chose to sit outside where we had views of the garden. We didn’t want to eat too much since we had more adventures up ahead.
Not far from Tunupa was our next and final stop, Ollantaytambo. There was a huge wall that separated the little town and the ruins. I had no idea what to expect, and was just awestruck when I saw the ruins.
My jaw dropped. It left me breathless, literally out of breath when I started climbing the steps. It was hard not to question how in the world did the Incas do this without all the modern machineries? It was all built by hand, carried up and down these steps, just purely amazing.
This was the point when we ended our tour for the day. The rest of our tour group headed back to Cusco, while Nancy and I took a private car to Del Pilar Hotel, also in Ollantaytambo, but it was about 20 minutes away. At first, we thought, this hotel was quite far from town. But, honestly, it’s the kind of accommodation we needed for the evening. We had no desire to explore that evening anymore.
The hotel, which was still fairly new, only had a few guests. I only saw 2 other guests during our stay. There was a huge dining room, and that’s where we met with the other guests. One was from Australia, and the other two were from Portugal.
For dinner, for Nancy’s birthday dinner, we kept it simple, quiet, and low-key. We had Lomo Saltado, and chicken noodle soup. It was just perfect, exactly what we needed after the kind of hectic day we had from flying and exploring the Sacred Valley.