I went from Cusco to Aguas Calientes by bus and train. Aguas Calientes is located in a deep gorge one hill away from Machu Picchu. The Inca city of Machu Picchu is the reason I started my Latin America trip in Peru. Since rainy season could start soon I figured out this should be the time to visit this famous archaeological site.
After a night of little sleep I took the first bus at 5am to the Machu Picchu entrance. Unfortunately I couldn't watch the sun rise because the air was misty. However the clearing sky in the morning created a mystical atmosphere. I took a tour guide for 2 hours to inform me about the sights in the Inca city before I started to climb to the sungate, the Inca entrance to Machu Picchu. I sat down an enjoyed the view in silence. This was for sure one of the most special places I have visited in the world so far! Slowly I descended back to the ruins and I spend the afternoon taking more pictures and selfies with the llamas and the ruins.
Since I did spend some days in Arequipa area I wasn't suffering from altitude sickness in Cusco, that sits om 3300m. (Or did the local coca tea really help?) Cusco plays an important role in Inca history. Statues, walls and ruins make you aware of that. During a free walking tour I got overloaded with information about this former Inca capital and the Inca history. Being a touristic gateway to Machu Picchu, the city has adapted to the steady stream of tourists. I climbed the surrounding hills to have a great view on the valley of Cusco.
With the perfect shaped volcano of El Misti on the background, Arequipa aka 'the white city' was a pleasant city to be in. It lacks the size and the craziness of Lima and it was rather safe to walk around. My local friend Diego showed me around and took me to some local sites that most tourists don't see.
Arequipa also was my base for a day-trip to Colca Canyon, one of the deepest Canyons in the world. There I saw the great condor birds and the Andean snow peaks. It was the first time I was at an altitude of 5000m during this trip and I was happy not to suffer from altitude sickness.
After five days in Arequipa I hopped on the Peru Hop bus for an Andean night-ride to Cusco.
In Lima I booked a ticket for Peru Hop. Their busses bring me from Lima to Cusco with the possibility to hop off on several places in between and making some stops at interesting sites. Our first stop was in the Paracas National Reserve before we continued to Huacachina.
Huacachina is an amazing place; it's a real oasis in the desert. The perfect place for dune-bugying and sand-boarding, but above all it is a surrealistic place to wander around. From Huacachina I continued my way to Arequipa, making stops in Ica (for Pisco tastings) and Nazca (to view some Nazca lines from a watchtower).
Lima was my starting point for 5,5 months of travelling in Latin America. This capital of Peru is a fast-moving metropolis. The coastline contains crumbling cliffs, while central Lima hosts some interesting buildings. Even within the city some old Inca ruins can be found.
I wandered around for two days and had a crazy party in a hostel at the last night. With few hours of sleep I boarded the bus to the south. Backpacking has started!