Although Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley are the most famous Incan ruins, there are some highly accessible and impressive ruins just outside the center of Cusco. Although many tourists book a bus tour to visit the ruins for about 4-5 hours, it’s possible to hike them. It’s best to wait until you’ve acclimated for at least a day before attempting the hike, and allow for at least 7 hours, assuming you want time to see the ruins and perhaps get a guided tour on the ground.
I’ve spent the past four days in the incredible town of Huaraz, nestled in the Cordillera Blanca in central Peru. The first 24 hours I was wiped out from the altitude change and didn’t do much of anything, and the second day I did a short hike just outside the city to acclimatize. Finally, on my third day, I was ready to tackle a 4,600 meter high trek up to the glacial Laguna 69. I booked a day trip through through Galaxia Tours for 106 soles (includes guide, transportation, and lunch) plus the park fee of 5 soles. I was picked up at my hostel at 6 am, and after picking up two additional hikers we made our way north to Yungay, then headed up an extremely bumpy and dusty road to the beginning of the path. By 10:15 we were off hiking, kept company by cows, chinchillas and bright blue birds.
Although we were told the hike would be 5 hours total – 3 up and 2 down – it actually took us a full 5 hours to get to the lake, mainly due to the altitude and several breaks that we took along the way. The suffering only made the payoff that much sweeter.
I headed north to Trujillo from Lima specifically to visit the pre-Incan ruins surrounding the city. Dating from AD 1470 (Chan Chan) to around AD 500 (Huaca de la Luna and El Brujo), the ruins are remnants of the Chimu and Moche tribes. Each of the sites has an accompanying museum which explores the culture and traditions of the respective tribe and the museums of Huaca de la Luna and El Brujo contain impressive pottery that look like they easily could have been removed from the kiln last week!
Monday night served as the official beginning of my RTW trip. I had a final meal at home with my parents of roast chicken and broccoli, watched Jeopardy with my Dad for the last time until July, then was picked up by the car service to go to JFK airport for an 11:55 pm flight to Lima via LAN Chile. The northeast in March can experience some wonky snowstorms, and mother nature decided to send me off from New York with a slick ride to the airport. Luckily I did arrive safely and on time, but my travel troubles were just beginning.