To get to Cusco we got an overnight bus from Huacachina, which was pretty long but got it over with in one trip, and also cost us next to nothing considering how lengthy the journey was. For pretty much all the buses we've used www.busbud.com and the best companies to go with are Tepsa or Cruz Del Sur, the seats recline just a little further than the others so you can sleep better.
We spent a full week in Cusco, and hopped around hostel wise. Loki hostel is where we started, it's a party hostel with no off button! So if you're looking for a hectic time, it's the right hostel for you. Wild Rover is equally as party vibe, but the rooms are slightly further away from the music so it allows you to be able to sleep whenever. Kokopelli Hostel is a great middle ground, and we finished the week off at Intro Hostel which was the perfect end to a crazy week - super chill hostel with cheap private rooms.
Cusco is a hub for activities, lots of the main attractions in Peru are done from this town. It is a small, bright and colourful town which is full of life day and night, and the best thing is it's still pretty cheap. The main thing to do within the city is the markets, whether it be the stalls dotted around San Blas (the more wealthy part of the city), or a trip to San Pedro market, you can lose a day haggling for souvenirs, fresh produce and jumpers made from alpaca fur. We particularly enjoyed San Pedro market; as you walk through the main door an array of senses hit you all at once. The bright colours, delicious and bizarre smells, soft touch of the alpaca jumpers, loud shouts of the vendors trying to attract customers, it's almost impossible to know where to look! There are clothes sections, souvenir sections, a whole fruit area, ladies moulding cheeses, fresh fruit juice stalls, and our favourite bit - the food area. There were so many options where you sit down and pay 10 soles (£2.50), and they provide you with a hearty bowl of ceviche, chicken and rice, or fried fish and plantain. Definitely the cheapest way to eat, and also the most local experience we had whilst there.
Whilst in Cusco, a must do is the trek up to Rainbow Mountain. Most local tour companies offer the same tour, it should cost around 60 soles for the day, which includes breakfast, lunch, and a professional guide. We woke at 4am and headed on the bus for a few hours before stopping for breakfast. The guide then announced that we were stopping off to buy altitude sickness tablets, and gave us each a hiking stick to help with the altitude. This is when the nerves kicked in!
We started the walk up, and although the weather wasn't great the scenes were still pretty incredible. The actual walk itself wasn't physically challenging, however the altitude made it one of our hardest treks yet. At 4500m, our breath tightened and we had to continuously suck on coca sweets, and smell the special oil the guide gave us to help with the light headed feeling that altitude gives you. He even had brought a tank of oxygen for worst case scenario, which bizarrely almost made us more nervous. On reaching the summit, we bought ourselves a beer and sat looking at rainbow mountain in awe. The colours were beautiful, it looked so unnatural we couldn't believe it was real. At 5200m we weren't able to stay sat down long, the altitude is the strangest feeling, it's like you constantly can't get enough air into your lungs. The walk down was fine, although some travellers opted to take horses down for a small cost, which also looked pretty fun.
Another awesome trek from Cusco is of course Machu Picchu, which you can read about in our next post!
In our week in Cusco we spent a lot of time checking out the local restaurants, and here's the best ones we found:
Jack's Cafe: a very popular spot among the Gringo's, and understandably. It has the BEST brunch with portions bigger than you can imagine. The perfect hangover spot
JC's Cafe: very close to both Loki and Wild Rover, great for breakfast
Uma Cafe: equally close to Loki and Wild Rover, has amazing coffee's and hot beverages
Botanika: a salad restaurant serving the most beautiful salads garnished with pretty edible flowers, almost too cute to eat
La Sanguichería: Sandwiches for days! Delicious and v affordable
Museo Del Café: cute spot in the town centre for coffee and cake, outside tables with a beautiful view of Cusco
Limbus Restobar: This was a favourite of ours, it's pretty hidden down a cobbled street but once you get there it opens out to reveal a 180 degree view of Cusco, and the food is incredible. You also get free cocktails for leaving a TripAdvisor review
There's also so many small restaurants in the town centre offering 'Menu Del Día' which includes 3 courses and a drink and will cost you the equivalent of £5... The food is alright and for a fiver does the trick!