About Cheryl Lock
Cheryl Lock is a former magazine, newspaper and website editor turned full-time freelance writer. She has worked on staff at the Daytona Beach News-Journal, More and Parents magazines, as well as for Learnvest, the leading women's financial website. Her work has also appeared in Newsweek, Forbes, Ladies' Home Journal, the Huffington Post, AOL Travel and more.
Cheryl was born in Nuremberg, Germany and grew up moving around every few years as an Army brat. The urge to travel has been with her her whole life. While she calls New York City home, Cheryl makes it a priority to travel as much as possible throughout the year. Some of her favorite places include Iceland, the Great Barrier Beef, Cabo, Rome, Calabria and Munich, although she hopes to never stop exploring. Cheryl blogs about her travel adventures (and what's happening in and around New York City) at Weary Wanderer.
Latest Posts by Cheryl Lock
We recently hosted our first visitors to Denver, which was both fun and nerve-wracking, since we haven’t been here that long ourselves and definitely haven’t done as much exploring as I normally like to have done before invite people to try things.
Friday we met up at the local dive Star Bar for drinks before dinner. The menu changes every week, so it’s hard to say what they’ll have from one day to the next, but there are tons of local brews on tap, and they have live music, pool tables and skeeball, and while they don’t serve food themselves, they have menus available to order in from many of the tasty joints that are right on that block, as well.
We decided to forgo ordering food to the bar, though, in favor of heading over to Marco’s Coal-Fired Pizza, which is right next door. We ordered a bunch of things to share, including the Arrosto salad, the Queens pizza and the Nutella Pizza for dessert … all of which were amazing. Plus the atmosphere was fun and festive … this would be a place we’d head back to, for sure.
Saturday we attempted to meet up with our friends for breakfast at Snooze in Union Station, but when something is rated the No. 1 place to get brunch, you better believe there will be a line, and at an hour and 45 minute wait time, we weren’t having that. So we headed on over to The Delectable Egg, instead, and had ourselves a delicious breakfast, including some of the best coffee I’ve ever had (ever), and a mouth-watering Bloody Mary.
^^ I had mine sans bacon — thank you very much — but it was still delicious!
After breakfast we went for a little walk by the Platte River (in winter, yes, we’re badass, what can I say?) and over to REI to show them how big and fun it is.
Then later we wandered over to the Wynkoop Brewery (during what would turn out to be our first significant snowfall since we’ve been in Denver, no less) for their free brew tour (definitely worth it), some beers and appetizers.
Dinner was at the Rio Grande Mexican Restaurant (which we also visited the last time we were here in April), and Sunday we met up again for coffee and bagel sandwiches at Bruegger’s Bagels. And while I have to say that nothing, and I mean nothing, beats eating an egg and cheese bagel from our favorite deli on the corner of 3rd and 89th while sitting on a bench in Central Park or taking a walk around the Reservoir, Bruegger’s is a place that I would probably be okay bringing visitors to … if I had to pick.
We just did a whirlwind drive from New York to Colorado stopping in Columbus, Ohio, St. Louis, Missouri, where we stayed at the Hilton St. Louis Downtown at the Arch
Kansas City, Missouri and also on the Kansas side.
We ate at the Flatiron Bar & Diner — think fried oyster po’ boy and gumbo with beer after a ten hour drive.
Later at the Hilton in St. Louis (above).
As I mentioned before, the Arch was only a couple blocks from our hotel, so we just had to head out at night to catch it all lit up.
And it did not disappoint!
We grabbed drinks at the Hyatt….We purchased tickets online the night before and headed out (in the frigid cold, I might add) the next morning to head up the Arch and see the sites. It really was a pretty fun experience, but be warned clustrophobes … this is maybe NOT the activity for you! I wouldn’t consider myself to be claustrophobic, but even so, the tiny little vessels that carry you to the top of the Arch had my heart racing — and Chris and I were in there alone! (On the way up we were alone at least … we shared with two people on the way down.) I can’t imagine how it would have been if the intended six people were squished together in there!
But the views are pretty spectacular, so you kind of forget about the ride up (and down) once you’re up there.
This is the Old Courthouse, where the slave Dred Scott sued for his and his wife’s freedom in 1846. This statue stands as a monument to the couple — and everything that historic case stood for — outside of the courthouse today.
For lunch we headed to Schlafly Brewery.
After days of driving and 1,836 miles covered (plus lots of McDonald’s, Burger King, Taco Bell and Subway for lunch), we had made it to Colorado, my friends, and our final destination — Denver — was in site.
Years ago, I became obsessed with taking a trip to the Galapagos, where we would be following in the footsteps of Darwin, making amazing discoveries and partaking in fascinating experiments. A few weeks ago, I finally accomplished that goal.
If you’re an animal lover, you must add the Galapagos to your list, because there is no place on earth like it, my friends. So far in life I’ve had the great opportunity to snorkel in some pretty amazing places (the Bahamas, Jamaica and the Great Barrier Reef, to name a few), and nothing even came close to snorkeling here. (Sorry, Barrier Reef. You were awesome and all, but the Galapagos has my heart.)
We took the Aida Maria, which is a small-ish sized yacht that fits up to 16 guests, and we had 15 on board for our trip. The size of the ship also means that space is pretty limited, and while we had bunk beds in our room, Chris and I used the top bunk to store our luggage and we slept together on the bottom bed. I’m honestly not sure what people did who didn’t share a bed, because there would have been very little floor space for luggage.
In terms of our itinerary and the islands we visited, here’s how we did it.
We started with Baltra Island and then went snorkeling at Bachas beach on Santa Cruz Island. The second day, we woke up after cruising all night in the midst of Genovesa, a shield volcano in the eastern Pacific Ocean and headed to the Barranco (aka Prince Phillip’s Steps and the place where we found owls!) at the top of Genovesa.
Next on the agenda was Bartolome Island and thereafter, Sullivan Bay and it’s insane lava fields on Santiago Island, and the following day, we went to Daphne/Black Turtle Cove and later to Cerro Dragon (a trail that runs through three different environments even though it’s just 1,600 m long) on Santa Cruz.
It’s named this because the northwestern side of Santa Cruz Island is home to an impressive population of Conolophus subcristatus, or Galapagos land iguana. We also had our final (and my favorite) snorkeling excursion on this particular outing. It was here that we saw sharks again, and I had one playful little sea lion who swam in circles around me while I snorkeled, waving her cute little fin at me the whole time. Oh Galapagos — you slay me with your magical moments.
Next was the Charles Darwin Station, where we saw giant tortoises! We were a bit bummed as we left that we hadn’t seen these awesome animals in “real” life, but as we were driving back to the airport we saw three or four them along the side of the road. Then it was back to Baltra to catch our flight back to the mainland Ecuador
Something else that was really cool about the trip is that everyone’s itinerary was planned by the National Park Service in order to keep as few people as possible on the islands at the same time. So for example, even if we were docked at an island with two or three other ships, we were never doing the same activity at the same time as the people from the other boat. If we were hiking, they would be snorkeling, and vice versa.
The last night of our trip we even got to go out to a bar (which was a good thing because the ship ran out of booze!) with a couple other young people from our boat and our tour guide (there were some restaurants, shops and bars at Puerto Ayora, which is where our tour guide was from. We even got to meet his adorable wife and 5-year-old son!)
Now let’s get to the fun part — the photos!
This (not so) little guy is a land iguana. We came across another one later in our hike that walked a good 100 feet towards our group of 16, bobbing his head in warning the whole while, before getting a couple of feet in front of us and turning around. I think he made his point, though ;) Land iguanas are pretty territorial, but they’re also pretty harmless.
Clawless lobsters at the fish markets in Puerto Ayora.
A marine iguana just hangin’ out. Watching them swim in the water is pretty amazing.
How adorable are the giant tortoises?! They can live to be between 120 and 150 years old.
These bright red crabs against the black lava?
Being in the water snorkeling was amazing, but watching sunsets from the back of the boat wasn’t too shabby, either.
The sea lions would get so close to you! And our tour guide would say, “Just see what happens.” Animals on the islands are super curious, and because humans aren’t their predators here, they are just fearless. It’s pretty cool.
A lava heron (which we concluded looked shockingly similar to a grumpy old man, no?!)
A few minutes after this photo was taken this sea lion would take a big ole’ dump in the water while I was snorkeling, totally bringing me back to earth (and out of the water!) from the surreal moment I was having. See the one in the background, too? With his nose in the air? I always wondered what they were thinking when they did that.
The blue beaks on the red-footed boobies are simply beautiful.
This was a view from Cero Dragon on Santa Cruz island.
Penguins! Can you believe the Galapagos has penguins? What doesn’t this place have?
Sullivan Bay on Santiago to demonstrate how far and wide the lava fields went.
The site of one of our many, many snorkel adventures.
There’s a blue-footed booby on the rocks!” This was an inside joke amongst everyone on our boat, since we came to realize that we could listen carefully for Reuben to call out loudly when we were on hikes or outings and he spotted some wildlife he really wanted us to see. His enthusiasm was seriously contagious. You could tell he loved his job and loved the Galapagos and just wanted to teach us everything he could, and that was just the best.
Pelican in flight.
We took the dinghy’s out one morning to Black Turtle Cove and saw all manner of animals, from the blue-footed boobies above to this green turtle, to mating sea turtles to sting rays and sharks.
Mating turtles, oh my!
Four stingrays in a row, right in front of our boat.
Honestly, we took about a gazillion photos here friends, as I’m sure you can imagine, and culling them down into just a couple is really hard. But I think what I’ve included here gives you a good indication of what the Galapagos is like — and it’s simply a heaven on earth.
So after our five days on the boat we caught a flight back to Quito and Jorge dropped us back off at La Rabida. It was bliss!
After three weeks of hiking, snorkeling, walking and swimming, we wanted to relax more than anything else when we reached Costa Rica. We looked at it as a way to chill and as such, we booked three days at Posada El Quijote in Escazu, Costa Rica (right outside of San Jose), and then a week at Barcelo Langosta Beach, an all-inclusive resort in the beach town of Tamarindo.
Above Toucan was taken at the animal refuge zoo and below was the view from our first Costa Rican hotel, with the city of San Jose in the background.
Let’s start with Posada El Quijote — it’s adorable. The hotel is a tiny boutique one nestled in the town of Escazu, which is one of the richer towns in Costa Rica. Our cab driver told us Mel Gibson bought a house here.
The included breakfast was a huge draw for us, the best breakfast we had on our entire trip, as was the view from the backyard, where Chris and I took to having some drinks after sunset every night, watching the twinkling lights of San Jose in the background. Some highlights of Escazu for me (besides the hotel, which I would highly recommend), was eating at both Tiquicia (with its amazing city views as well) and La Casona de Laly , and taking a tour of the city of San Jose.
About San Jose itself, I’d highly recommend not staying directly in the city if you can avoid it, because other than a few good museums and a gorgeous concert hall, the rest of the city is really pretty much chain restaurants and concrete. In our case, staying outside of the city and taking a half day trip into the city itself to check things out was more than enough.
They were having a family day when we took our half-day tour in San Jose, so the main town square was alive with all kinds of activity. How awesome is this tight-rope little lady? You go girl.
We caught this view on one of our walks around our Escazu neighborhood. Gorgeous.
After three relaxing days in Escazu, Chris and I packed up our stuff again and loaded it onto a bus headed for the coast of Tamarindo and the Barcelo Langosta Beach Resort. The bus ride was roughly five hours and once we were off the main highways and driving through the smaller towns, I enjoyed seeing the homes and shops and some of the average Costa Rican way of life.
You’ll find wild parrots throughout Costa Rica.
Below, we tried our hand at ziplining with Pura Adventura while we were in Costa Rica – imagine gliding through the air, feeling completely weightless, watching amazing views unfold before you.
After what felt like weeks not hours, we finally arrived at Barcelo Langosta. If you’ve ever stayed at an all-inclusive before, you won’t be disappointed with this one.
The staff was very friendly, and offered many of those all-inclusive activities most people enjoy (water aerobics, dance classes, live music on certain nights, beach volleyball, etc.), and the buffet was pretty great for all-inclusive food, especially since they switched up their theme every night to keep it fresh. Below, the sunset facing the resort.
They also have one restaurant on the grounds, which if you stay for longer than three nights is included in your price, and that was super tasty. We saw tons of wildlife around the resort, too, like two different kinds of monkeys, green lizards, land iguanas, birds and more.
The beach is public, so it can get a bit crowded, and it’s not the best beach for swimming because the waves tend to be rougher there (which makes it perfect for watching surfers!) and there are a lot of rocks. But the sunsets were some of the most gorgeous ones we saw on our whole trip, and to not have to think at all about what we were going to do about eating during the days made it a lot more laid back for us, as well.
We watched the sunset from the beach every night.
Posada El Quijote Country Inn
Belo Horizonte, Escazu, Costa Rica
Barcelo Langosta Beach Resort
Calle Playa Langosta, Tamarindo
Guanacaste, Santa Cruz 50309, Costa Rica
After our adventures in Peru, we packed up our belongings and headed to the airport to fly a bit up the continent to Ecuador, where we would be taking part in the second, third and fourth parts of our South American adventure: Quito, the Amazon and the Galapagos Islands.
We started out in Quito before exploring the more rural parts of Ecuador which included the Rainforest, Amazon and the Galapagos. Here’s a bit of what we saw during our stay in Quito.
This statue was a gift to the city, but its back faces towards the more poor area, and the people who live there unfortunately took that to be a bit of a slight.
The Old Town section of Quito is beautiful during the day, but our tour guide warned us that it can be a bit desolate, and even dangerous, at night. If you make it here, however, be sure to NOT MISS the Iglesia de La Compania de Jesus church. Unfortunately we couldn’t take photos inside, but I’ve never been to a more beautiful church, and it’s absolutely not to be missed when you’re checking out this part of Quito.
We were in the old section of Quito Ecuador on a Monday, so we were lucky enough to catch the changing of the guard at the Presidential Palace, which really is quite the show.
We also visited the part of Quito where the lines of latitude and longitude are zero, which was fascinating. (There are actually two of these places. The first was the one the French thought was zero latitude, but the Ecuadorian army later scientifically determined the actual spot to be about 200 meters away. Still, that’s not bad for an educated guess!) Anyway, the equator line is so weird! This is me, trying to balance an egg on its end (which our tour guide and someone else in our group successfully managed to do), and you have practically zero strength on the line as well. It’s also incredibly hard to walk in a straight line when you’re directly on the equator (as demonstrated by Chris, below), and the water really does flush in different directions to either side of the line.
I feel as though I would be wrong to ignore something that came up a lot while we were in Quito — which is safety. We didn’t do a ton of research on the area before heading there, since it was part of our package anyway, and we’d be spending so few days there, but as it turns out, there’s quite a bit of noise on the internet about the safety of tourists in the area.
While I think a lot of this has changed in recent years, I think it doesn’t hurt to be on high alert if traveling to this area. I wouldn’t walk at night anywhere (cabs are readily available, although you need to be sure to get in legitimate cabs with meters, and make sure the cab drivers actually turn on the meters, because they will try to stiff you), and don’t be flamboyant about things that call you out as a tourist — like carrying ginormous cameras or stopping to look at a map every couple of feet.
The first day we arrived in Quito it happened to be a holiday, and we found the city to be pretty empty and a bit desolate, which to be honest made it a bit creepy. But after the city filled with people again, and when we roamed around during broad daylight, we found the people to be friendly and helpful, and nothing was scary at all.
We also had some of our favorite meals here in Quito. Our tour guide (Gorge, who was one of our favorite tour guides of the whole trip), suggested one little restaurant called Mama Clorinda, where we ate empanadas, potato soup, shrimp and rice and lamb stew (Chris, not me), that was all totally delicious. Chris also really enjoyed the steak at La Casa de mi Abuela.
After our three days in Quito, we headed back to the airport with Gorge to catch our flight to the Amazon, which was a pretty surreal experience in and of itself. We stayed at Sacha Lodge, which we really loved. The food here was pretty amazing, especially considering the fact that it was buffet style made for dozens of people all at once, and the lodges themselves were gorgeous, wooden cabins with big, bright hammocks on open porches directly in the rainforest.
These little leaf cutter ants were so amazing! They were one of the first signs of life we saw when we arrived, and there was a whole big stream of them running across the path we had to walk to get to our lodge, busy carrying those little leaves to their new destination.
To get to the lodge, we had to fly to another city from Quito, take a 2.5 hour motorized canoe ride, walk a mile through the rainforest, then take another 15-20 minute canoe ride to the lodge itself.
Sunset over the Sacha Lodge lake was epic every night.
The very first night we were there we went on a night hike and saw all kinds of creepy crawlies. You’d think that seeing creatures like this would freak me out, but honestly it didn’t — it was fascinating.
Baby tarantulas! We would see very many of these during our stay at the Amazon, most of them a whole heck of a lot bigger than this one.
Look at this adorable patootie!
These parrots fascinated me. They come to the clay lick to eat the clay, which helps neutralize the acid in their stomachs from eating berries and such. Such smart parrots.
One of my two favorite moments in the Amazon occured while I was in the shower. Like I mentioned, our cabins were pretty awesome, and the bathrooms were the absolute best. The back of the shower was just a screen, which looked out directly into the rainforest. So one day while I’m showering, I happen to notice some movement in the woods, and it was this little monkey, along with about five or six of his friends! Monkeys — just chillin’ in the rainforest — which I could watch all to myself while I took a shower. Once in a lifetime experience, for sure.
Another shower monkey!
How cute are these cabins!?
One day we went into the butterfly house, which housed hundreds of amazing, beautifully colored butterflies, along with one nasty, huge tarantula that had moved in and just occasionally snacks on the butterflies.
We took a lot of canopy walks high above the trees, where we saw tons of birds like Toucans and Hummingbirds and even a King Vulture!
This snake, which we happened upon on one of our hikes, is referred to as the Venti Quatro, because once bitten by it, you’ll die within 24 hours. Nice, right? And he was thisclose to us on the hike. This was also right before a tree branch broke and Chris was showered with fire ants that bit him all over his arm. While he was in pain for about nine hours after it happened, he now thinks this is pretty bad ass. I mean, if you’re going to be in the Amazon, you might as well have a story to tell, right?
We went piranha fishing, and I was the first person to catch one! It was so crazy. You put some meat at the end of a fishing pole, and when you throw the line in, you can’t even see the piranha attacking it, you just see the meat moving around in the water as they snip at it. This is a red-bellied kind.
^^ Look at those teeth!
The thing that makes both Chris and myself a little sad is that our camera didn’t have a better zoom, because some of the birds we saw were absolutely amazing, and our camera just wasn’t cutting it in terms of capturing their essence. But we spent four days in the Amazon, and it was both terrifying, beautiful and exhilarating. We did a lot of activities during the days, but we also had some time to relax, which was highly welcome.
After our Amazonian adventure, we packed ourselves back up, headed back out on the canoe rides and hikes that would eventually get us to the airport, and flew back to Quito, where we would have a half day before flying back out the next morning to … THE GALAPAGOS!
To say that the 7-hour, 9.5.-mile hike we did of the Inca trail almost killed me would probably be a bit of an exaggeration … but let’s be honest friends — it’s a hard trek.
After spending four days in Cusco getting acclimated to the altitude and checking out some of the other sites, we woke up around 6 a.m. on a Friday to head three hours on the train with our tour guide, Michael, to the spot on the Inca trail where we would be starting our trek.
Here’s a bit of what we saw on that hike:
One little tale about the trek that I’d like to share was a sort of adorable one about my lunch. The night before we left it occurred to me that I should probably remind the B&B where we were staying (which was booked in conjunction with our entire Inca Trail/Machu Picchu hike) that I am a vegetarian, since they were packing our lunch for the next day. “Sure no problem!” they said.
Cut to our lunch on this intense hike the next day (you can probably see where I’m going with this). Our guide seemed really nervous about the lunch and kept saying, “Oh I really hope they packed your vegetarian!” He was eager for me to open my lunch so he could make sure it was the right stuff, and when I did he was so relieved. “Oh good, they did pack you a vegetarian!”
“Absolutely, looks great!” I assured him, even though what I was looking at was fried rice with ham.
It was really no biggie — I just ate around it. I figure in circumstances like this, when you’re traveling in different parts of the world and trying to be thoughtful of their own customs and traditions, it’s best to go with the flow as much as possible. Lucky for me, big pieces of ham are easy to eat around ;)
Anyway … after about seven hours of ups and (very few) downs and stairs and switchbacks, I was ready to be done! And thankfully we had quite the amazing payoff at the end of the hike, too:
Not bad — am I right?! When you book the 2-day trek (at least when you book with Cusi Travel), what happens is you hike the Inca Trail all day, ending up at Machu Picchu late in the afternoon. You then take the bus (the crazy bus down the side of the hill where there is barely enough room for one vehicle, let alone the two that sometimes squeeze by each other!) down into Aguas Calientes — the town below Machu Picchu — to spend the night. We then got up super early the next morning to stand in line to catch the bus back to Machu Picchu for a tour with our guide, and we had decided to hike Huayna Picchu as well, so we’d be doing that without our guide around 10 a.m. the following day after our Inca Trail hike.
A word now about the Huayna Picchu hike (before I share some of the absolutely stunning photos) — it’s terrifying. And when I saw terrifying, I mean terrifying! First off, it’s sometimes referred to as the “hike of death,” so you know, there’s that. See that tall-ass mountain that sticks straight up into the sky in the photo above? The one directly to the right of Machu Picchu. That is Huayna Picchu, my friends, and that is what we hiked the day after our Inca Trail hike. It’s 8,920 ft high, with barely any handrails or cover of any kind, and only 400 people are allowed to climb it every day in order to keep it from being too crowded. (If you want to learn more about the hike itself, if you’re considering it, I would read this, which has some really good info to prepare you before you decide either way.)
I’m going to be honest — I didn’t do any reading about the hike before we took it on. I had a friend who had done it a few years earlier and she recommended adding it to our Machu Picchu visit before our tour guide even recommended it to us and if I hadn’t done it, I may have scared me away from actually doing the hike, in which case I would have been robbed of an amazing feeling of accomplishment, not to mention these amazing, once-in-a-lifetime views:
Arriving in Peru, especially if you plan to do some hiking, plan to arrive two days early to allow yourselves to get acclimated to the altitude (we took the pills to alleviate altitude symptoms). I’d highly recommend the same to anyone else planning a visit.
We chose Hotel Torre Dorada to spend the first three nights in Peru, and it turned out to be the perfect spot to get acclimated. It was a little further from the city center, but the hotel offered a free cab service to and from the center of town — breakfast was included, and the rooms were very comfortable.
View from the rooftop at the hotel.
While we did spend the first two days getting acclimated, we also explored a bit of the city center and ate at some pretty tasty restaurants (Inka Grill for dinner our first night and Pacha Papa for lunch the second day were two highly notable places.
Everyone who heard we were going to Cusco told us to also hit up Jack’s Cafe, which we did, and while I found the food to be good, it wasn’t a place that I particularly felt was truly authentic or anything all that amazing. If you’re looking for a good place for something easy and breezy like sandwiches or salads, though, this would be a good place to try.)
There are very narrow streets and alleyways chock full of people made walking an interesting proposition as it was, but add in the high altitude and suddenly walking up even a couple flights of stairs would leave us breathless!
There are quite a few churches in the main square in Cusco.
All of the children wear uniforms to school in Peru, whether they go to public or private school, which I thought was so interesting, and not such a bad idea.
How funny was the balcony at this restaurant/bar? We took to lovingly referring to it as the “long skinny” bar. Still, the view was pretty unforgettable.
While there’s so much I could say here about Cusco, in an effort to avoid making each destination’s blog post way too long, I’m going to go ahead and reiterate some info from an email I sent my family and some friends after we had been in Cusco for a couple of days.
At first we thought Cusco was overrun with stray dogs, but it turns out these dogs all have owners, and there are no laws here that force them to be on leashes. Having said that, these pups all seem to be super friendly, and we are amazed by how little poop there is in the streets.
The average salary here is about 750 solas, per month, which is about $257, so you can see how it’s incredibly difficult for people to drag themselves out of poverty, which is so, so sad, because I don’t think I’ve ever met a more hard-working group of people.
Many of the women here have taken to entrepreneurialism, however, and dress themselves and their children up in their fanciest Peruvian duds and stand near tourist hot spots with their baby llamas and alpacas and charge a solas or so for a photo with them.
The Spanish seriously ruined Peru when they conquered it (something I probably should have learned in school) to include desecrating some amazing statues and artwork.
The difference between a llama and an alpaca is that alpaca’s are shorter with shorter ears. The heaviest rock the Inca’s moved back in the day was 130 TONS. A couple years ago as an experiment the Peruvians tried to move a 30 ton rock using the traditional anchor methods the Inca’s would have used. It took 250 men and 30-40 minutes to move it 100 meters. The quaries where these rocks would have come from were four to seven miles away, across a river … so you do the math.
After they finally evicted their corrupt president in the 1980s (who literally used to smuggle cocaine on his plane bc it wasn’t checked at the borders — although he did also eradicate national terrorism and helped set up a public education system) and put in place a new president, tourism skyrocketed. Tourism is now the biggest industry in Cusco.
They eat guinea pigs here. And alpaca. ‘Nuff said.
The women here carry their babies in bright bundles on their backs. It’s sort of adorable.
The city of Cusco is actually higher elevation (10,991 ft) than Machu Picchu (7,874).
On our third day in Cusco we began our tour with Cusi Travel (which I would highly recommend to anyone looking for a Machu Picchu tour group), which included first a tour of some of the areas surrounding Cusco and Sacred Valley, as well as our Inca Trail hike and visit to Machu Picchu (we added on the Huayna Picchu hike to our tour as well, but I’m getting ahead of myself now …)
Alpaca’s at Sacsayhuaman (pronounced “Sexy Woman”) outside of Cusco.
We stopped at an animal rescue place on the way to Sacred Valley and spotted some Condors taking flight.
A visit to Ollantaytambo would be high on my list of things to do in Cusco as well. The indentions to the right in this photo were actually the “bank” of the Inca’s, where they kept the currency of the day, which was food. It was up so high because that kept the food dry and out of the elements.
In the middle you might notice what appears to be a face carved into the mountain. It’s rumored that the Inca’s actually carved this face into the side of the mountain, but not everyone today actually still believes that to be the truth — some say it’s just coincidence.
Some visuals of Peru for your enjoyment.