Cusco & Aguas Calientes

Cusco & Aguas Calientes

Written by: Jessica

Upon arrival in Cusco we made our way to our hotel, the Andean Wings Boutique. It was absolutely stunning.  We enjoyed an excellent dinner, trying out some local cuisine. Lomo saltado is a great dish, and anything with yellow chili sauce is automatically delicious.

Then we set out to explore the nearby plaza after dark, as we were told that was when it is most beautiful. It was gorgeous. We also went to an ATM to withdraw some money as the local currency, Soles. A tip for any future traveler: each bank’s ATM may alone let you withdraw once a month…so get all you need, or you’ll be desperately seeking a working ATM for another bank. And plenty of ATMs we found were not working.

By the time we were on our way back to the hotel, me with a lovely baby alpaca hat, we were both starting to huff and puff for breath. Headaches set in and pounded all night long due to altitude sickness – the city of Cusco is 11k feet above sea level (Sacramento is 30ft). This was the first we’d felt of altitude sickness, which can involve headaches, inability to breathe, and nausea.  Thankfully we only had mild nausea. Our headaches continued through the next morning. We ran into some challenges with the first leg of our transportation toward Machu Picchu, and then…as we descended into the town of Ollantaytambo where we caught the train, our headaches went away.  Cusco is at a higher elevation than anywhere else we were going in Peru.


The drive up to Aguas Callientes was very pretty

Urubamba – on the way to Aguas Calientes

Our train departed at about 9:30am for the town of Aguas Calientes, also known as Machu Picchu pueblo. The views were gorgeous as we rode along in the train.  Upon arrival, our first stop was to check into our hotel, Gringo Bill’s. While still exhausted and huffing and puffing from the elevation, it was a lot better there than in Cusco.  There, we were at 6.7k feet above sea level. We toured around and enjoyed some wonderful meals as we prepared for our journey up to Machu Picchu the following morning.

Aguas Calientes

Aguas Calientes – center square

View from our hotel

In preparation, we bought our bus ticket up the mountain, and some water bottles to carry with us, knowing we would need them. Then, after an amazing dinner at Tree House, a small restaurant, we went to bed early.  Our alarm was set for 4:30am local time, so we could eat breakfast at 5, check out and get our luggage locked up, and then make it to the first bus up the mountain, which would leave at 5:30am  We wanted to be among the first up, as we had a hike scheduled that we had to start between 7-8am.

9 Replies to “Cusco & Aguas Calientes”

  1. Beautiful place! I would like to see a picture of Diego riding a llama, hehehehe.
    PS: don’t forget to exchange back local currency to US dollars (at airport, bank or hotel) when you live country.

  2. I love rhe view drom your hotel – all the old roof tops and the mountainsides. Ok. i loved it all – so glad you two are able to make this once in a lifetime trip!!!

  3. Loved pictures of you guys together, you look so happy! Sounds like you did an amazing job planning(we knew it) – pictures look great, can’t wait to hear the rest of the story!

  4. Altitude sickness doesn’t sound to good, I have problems with Yellowstone, and it is not near that high. All your pictures are beautiful, what a vacation!!!

    1. Yes, it takes a while to get used to location. Cusco is the worst as it’s higher than Machu Picchu.

  5. Beautiful area and pictures of Peru, a little cloudy. I think the raining season is around May through August like in West Africa.

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