This past August I got the opportunity to visit Peru, a destination that’s been in my radar for quite a while. Between August and September, it’s considered to be the best time to visit since Winter is coming to an end and it’s right before rainy season. This is important to know if you’re looking to capture nice pictures while you’re up in the mountains as visibility can be very minimal. In this trip I got to team up with some of my closest friends Hungry For Adventures, Briana Levya Photography, Everyday Erik, Jen from Costco, and David (aka Momo with Mo’ Problems). Since we were only going to be there for a week it was crucial we planned things out accordingly so we can make the most of our time there.
Check out how all things went down…
We arrive in the town of Cusco early Sunday morning and right away we’re greeted with Coca leaves at the airport. Not much of a surprise since it’s custom to include raw coca leaves into your tea in most places in South America. So we each take a handful of leaves and continue on to check in at our Airbnb. After a full day of traveling prior without eating a solid meal, we decide to grab breakfast from a local cafe.
- (Travel Tip💡– It’s recommended that you don’t tackle any hikes the first day you arrive in Cusco if you’re not used to high elevations. It takes about a day for your body to adjust and I would advise to go easy on drinking alcohol as you may probably catch a buzz a lot faster than normal.)
Once we got some chow, we headed straight to the village of Pisac which is home to the most popular market in the Cusco region. It takes about an hour ride to get there and it’s the perfect place for picking up any souvenirs for good prices. Best time to visit is also on Sundays where you can find local fresh produce, handmade crafts, and clothing pieces. It was here where I could not pass up on a dope sweater made of Alpaca.
Once we finished up picking up some goods in Pisac, we headed back to Cusco to explore Plaza de Armas. This Plaza is essentially the town’s central square where you can admire beautiful gardens, historical buildings, and try out traditional Peruvian food.
As we were limited on time we had to crack down on what sites would be most fulfilling to see. So the crew decided to book a tour to Humantay Lake which is a place that remained sacred to the Incans for many years. There are several agencies that offer day trips to this gorgeous lake that start around $50+, which includes transportation from your hotel and back to Plaza de Armas. For this tour we had to be up by 4am and endure on a 4 hour car ride to Humantay. We were fortunate to book the tour that included breakfast before the hike and lunch afterwards. Once we arrived at our destination we had to hike up towards the mountain which took about 90 minutes. Although the distance seemed short, it was the steady incline and high elevation that hits you hard. Mind you the elevation at Humantay lake is approximately 14,000 feet. The first 5 minutes you start the hike off with high confidence and excitement that in you’re head you believe that you can accomplish the trail with no problemo. Not long after that you start to feel the strong side effects of elevation sickness to the point you feel like collapsing. What started off as a group effort of sticking together I noticed one by one people started falling behind, including myself. The tour guides expect to see this type of struggle so they come prepared by offering oxygen masks or a horseback riding service to get to the top faster. I would think that someone like myself who’s an avid hiker would be able to hang but truth be told I was hurting each step I took.
(Travel tip💡- Make sure you take hiking boots and drink plenty of water before, during, and after the hike. To prevent elevation sickness I suggest drinking coca tea.)
Eventually I make my way to the top and boy was I in a for a treat…
Towards the end, the tour guide gathered everyone together to educate us a little bit about the history and importance of Humantay Lake. The tour guide also pointed out how interesting it is to see this site become so popular within just a couple of years. With the help of social media, the guide went from doing a tour once a week or so to now having a group to take every single day of the week.
After our day trip to Humantay we decided to unwind back in Cusco by enjoying local Peruvian wine and Pisco Sour cocktails at this top notch steakhouse. Similar to the style and quality of Fogo de chão restaurant, we had “all you can eat” meats for just $15 USD. Too bad “all you can drink” wasn’t included as part of the deal….
Stay tuned for Part II…