It took us about 22 hours by bus to get from Arica, Chile to Cusco, Peru. Our first stop was via Tacna, Peru. We got there via a mini-bus with about 8 other people. I was a bit nervous about this at first until we met up with some other travelers that had a similar experience going into Chile. In fact, it was most likely a lot quicker this way. Our driver was great at getting us through the border controls. We had to change buses in Tacna and then again in Arequippa. Most people would stop off in Arequippa for a few days, but we knew we would eventually have to come back this way so we carried on straight to Cusco.
Once in Cusco, we had to wait an hour before we were collected by a representative from our hostel as we were early. I was already feeling tired as I didn’t get much sleep on the bus, but felt progressively worse on the drive up in the taxi to our hostel. It turned out that I was beginning to suffer the effects of altitude sickness. I had a headache and was feeling nauseous, and Bob just had a headache. The staff at our hostel were really lovely and got us into our room straight away with a flask of hot water to make coca tea. I slept for about six hours. When I woke up, I was finally able to appreciate the view from our room.
We managed to walk a couple of blocks to get lunch. It was a struggle walking back up the steps to our hostel and room as we were constantly out of breath. That is what altitude can do to you. It took me two days to feel reasonable. On the third day in Cusco, we actually managed to go for a walk. It may have been ambitious, but we decided to take it slowly. We weren’t too far from the Christo Blanco and the Saksaywaman ruins.
Most of our time in Cusco was spent exploring sections of the city while we were trying to acclimatize before our trek to Machu Picchu.
There is so much to see and do in Cusco. Although it can look daunting, the place is easily walkable. You just need to stop every now and then to catch your breath! There are many restaurants, bars and squares to hang out in too!