How to Do Cusco, Peru in 5 Days

Back in May, I took advantage of my first bonus check (thanks, Hershey!) and, unsurprisingly, threw it at an airline or two. A friend of mine was graduating from Pitt and wanted to check out Peru before WWOOF-ing for a month in Chile. Guess who she called to join her! I take pride in my “yes woman” reputation for others’ travel plans. 🙂

Rather than go through every single thing we did every day, I thought I’d make a little suggestion list for how to make the most of Cusco, Peru…

– Accept the absolute lack of road laws and hope for the best. South America is known to house some fast and furious drivers, but the ride from the Cusco airport to our hostel was probably the scariest one of my life. People essentially honk a lot and just go where they feel like going. We survived, anyway.

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– Be wary of altitude sickness, but don’t let the fear control your trip. Alexis and I were worried we’d get altitude sickness after all the warnings we read, so we planned to relax and stay hydrated our entire first day. That plan got thrown out 15 minutes after we got to the hostel and someone asked if we wanted to sign up for horseback riding. YEP!

Chug chug chug!

Chug chug chug!

Better idea

Better idea

– Get outside!

View while horseback riding

View while horseback riding

Get right in those ruins!

Get right in those ruins!

Explore the Plaza de Armas by day.

Explore the Plaza de Armas by day.

... and at night.

… and at night.

Explore all the little markets and stalls with souvenirs.

Explore all the little markets and stalls with souvenirs.

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Try finding a rock climbing gym and end up being the only tourists in a random tiny town instead!

Try finding a rock climbing gym and end up being the only tourists in a random tiny town instead!

– Get ideas from those around you. We had restaurant suggestions ready from a woman who used to live in Cusco. Other travelers suggested a chocolate-making class (no complaints here). Go clubbing with the hostel employees while you’re at it. Whatever floats your boat.

That would be a chunk of alpaca right there.

That would be a chunk of alpaca right there.

Best veggie burger I've ever eaten

Best veggie burger I’ve ever eaten

CHOCOLATE

CHOCOLATE

Keep an eye out for creepers!

Keep an eye out for creepers!

– Do I even have to say it? MACHUPICCHU! We did a quick day-and-a-half trip, but I’d suggest spending more time in the area to get extra hiking in.

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If you're going to walk up, know that this will be your view for a solid hour.

If you’re going to walk up, know that this will be your view for a solid hour.

It's worth it, though!

It’s worth it, though!

Wear layers up in the mountains!

Wear layers up in the mountains!

Alexis and I had a great 5 days in Cusco and Machu Picchu. A lot of that is thanks to our lovely hostel, Pariwana, that had tons of activities planned at all times and attracted a lot of awesome people that we got to hang out with. Someone recommended it to us while we were planning this trip in a café in Pittsburgh, and now it’s my turn to do the same! Other recommendations are below.

Although Alexis and I both flew into Santiago, Chile for the next leg of our trip, it was time for us to part ways. It definitely made for a different experience. I’ll recap that next time!

– Alexa

Places We Ate:
Papacho’s – hip burger place, very English-friendly
Marcelo Batata – slightly upscale traditional Peruvian food
Paddy’s – the highest Irish-owned pub in the world!
– Any little stand in the Mercado Central de San Pedro

Nightlife:
– The hostel Pariwana can get its own dance floor going late at night
Mama Africa – well-known club that a lot of tourists go to
Mythology – more Latin influence but definitely still a club

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