- It’s very touristic, so expect packs of backpackers and agencies.
- The old city is the place to be, close to the Plaza de Armas.
- Take an umbrella if you’re there in December/January.
- Lavado Al Seco do a good laundry for 5S/kg.
- Hotels can keep your luggages when you go off for treks or expeditions.
- Besides Machu Picchu, don’t book anything in advance since you’ll pay more.
- Cusco elevation is 3300m, so allow some days to get used to the altitude.
- There’s supermarkets everywhere so if you’re in an AirBnB you can cook at home.
We stayed at Hotel & Mirador Los Apus and was perfect, see basecamp section.
🚲 Getting there
We stayed 10 days, including Machu Picchu, and we could have stay more.
The perfect basecamp ⛺️
Cusco is a really good basecamp to go a discover the surrounding areas. The city itself is nice, but doesn’t offer much besides the old centre which can be visited in half a day. We decided to stay 10 days in total, to relax, take time to acclimate to the alitude, and for visit Machu Picchu and the Rainbow Mountain.
During all our time here, we stayed at the Hotel & Mirador Los Apus and we highly recommend it. The rooms are big, the breakfast is fantastic, the staff is very helpful and the location is perfect. They do you lunch box if you leave too early for breakfast. The best part is they have a little calm rooftop bar at the top to chill after a long tour day.
Rainbow mountain tour 🌈
During one of the relax days, we went around in the city asking prices for the Rainbow Mountain day tour in different agencies. There’s two main sites:
- Vinicuna: It’s the site where everyone go, more than 3000 people per day, with option to rent a horse. Also come with pick-up at 3AM.
- Palcoyo: Beautiful views on three different rainbow mountains, short hike of 30 minutes, stone forest, pick-up at 7AM and way less crowded.
We’ve opted for option 2. First because Vinicuna is higher so it was snow-capped, but also because the views seemed better in Palcoyo and we were not disappointed. We booked with the first agency in front of our hotel for 120S each, lunch included, english guide, small group and emergency oxygen. Here’s some tips useful for the tour:
- Sit on the right side of the van to get the best view during the trip.
- Take hikking shoes.
- Bring water, sun cream, hat and wind clothes.
- Take a coca/muna mate for the altitude.
We got picked-up at the Plaza de Armas at 7:20AM. We’ve hopped in the standard minivan, and started a 2 hours drive to Checacupe. Once arrived, we stretched our legs for 20 minutes, enjoyed a muna tea and walked a bit in the village.
After chilling, we went back in the van for another 90 minutes until the entrance of the park, where we stopped to buy tickets and enjoy the view. This part was very scenic, and the road was following a beautiful red river surrounded by curious lamas.
We finally arrived after extra 15 minutes drive. We layered up since it was pretty windy, and started the hike. After 15 minutes walk, we arrived at the first viewpoint where we could see mountain 1.
A little water break after, we carried on with the hike for an extra 40 minutes until we arrived on the main plateform. At this stage, the path divided in three viewpoints:
- Peak and the stone forest
- View on mountain 2 and 3 with glazer in the background
- Walking on mountain 2
We started by going up to the peak, so after that we would only go down. It took us another 15 minutes of very steep path to arrive at the top, but 100% worth it. The peak is at exactly 5000m so we crossed that out of our bucket list. On top of that, the view is breathtaking. From there, we saw all the colored mountains with the massive Ausangate glazer in the background and the rock formations at the top.
We then went down to the main viewpoint, and enjoyed the incredible view on mountain 2 and 3, to then go and walk on mountain 2. The best part of this place was we were maximum 60 people on the site, we really felt alone. They also don’t allow horses to protect the ecosystem, it’s not crowded at all.
After shooting a thousand of pictures, we went back at the main plateform where our guide gave us some explanations in english on the origin of this place. We then made our way back to the van with calm, and drove another 90 minutes to the lunch place, called Restaurante Comida Montana de Colores, near the village of Chiara. We ate a big buffet of various food, not incredible but not bad, to then drive back to Cusco for 2h30 where we arrived at 6:30PM at the Plaza de Armas.
Cusco old city ⛪️
Between our different expeditions, we took the opportunity to visit the old city centre, by simply walking around in the tiny streets, searching for food. We essencially hanged-out at the Plaza de Armas and its surrounding, as you can see from the restaurant list below.
If you’re into viewpoints or mirador, we walked to two different nice ones:
- San Cristobal Church: Located few stairs away from the centre, lovely church with view on the plaza where young lovers hang-out.
- Limbus Restobar: Good view from there, but no need to get in the bar if you don’t want to since there’s a little square overlooking it.
There’s a lot of touristic places in Cusco, but here the ones we liked the most:
- Jack’s Cafe: Basic dinner with a lot of options for a good price.
- Cantina Vino Italiano: Wine bar with excellent pizza and wine.
- La Bo’M creperie: Nice little crepe restaurant on top of an hotel.
- Incanto: Fancy italian restaurant with delicious pastas.
- Avocado Toasts & more: Little place perfect for avocado toasts.
- L’atelier Café Concept: Typical hipster coffee with nice view on the streets.
- Limbus Restobar: Perfect to grab a beer with splendid view on the city.