First week in Peru – Lima and Cusco discover
To put 2020 right, we booked our flight to Peru in the last week of 2019. As nature lovers this country has of course been on our bucket list for a long time and now the time was there to go there. The last week we were in the capital Lima and then we moved on to the tourist cusco. Read all about our first week in Peru here.
Departure from Amsterdam
Our flight to Lima in Peru departed from Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam. This is about two hours’ drive from Belgium where we live. Amsterdam is the closest place for us to make a direct flight to Peru. Almost all other airports and airlines fly with a transfer. We really didn’t feel like it this time because the flight itself takes about twelve hours. An upgrade on a flight of almost twelve hours is therefore not an unnecessary luxury. After all, you are on the road all day and then relaxation on the plane is welcome.
Week in Peru – Lima
The flight in itself was not so bad. Not counting the other passengers. That’s something we get annoyed with time and time again, even though we’re still trying so hard not to. We think we are really tolerant but some passengers always show their “best” side on a flight. Or are we the only ones affected? That aside, after an exhausting flight, we were waiting for a long queue at the border control at Lima airport. After almost 24 hours on the road we finally arrived at our hotel.
No jet lag
Because we were on the clock and arrived in Lima around the evening, we could go straight to sleep. We woke up around five to six in the morning. Not immediately pleasant to be awake so early but it did make sure we didn’t have jet lag. Our bodies didn’t really have to recover from the hour change and that was a nice experience. Usually we are sick for a few days or we sleep badly because of the jet lag like in Mexico but this time not. Top!
Amazed by Lima
Lima itself is a huge city with about ten million inhabitants. It goes without saying that we could not explore the whole city in a few days time. The historic centre is of course something that you must have seen. Lima reminded us of several countries we already visited. Here we imagined ourselves exactly back in Cuba (but more beautiful!) in combination with the atmospheric music and smiley people of Mexico. It was a happy reunion with a culture close to our hearts.
If you pull just outside the historic heart of Lima, you will soon find yourself in a very different kind of atmosphere. As quiet as it is at its core, it’s so crowded in its edge. People and sellers walk everywhere and you are constantly called upon to buy something. A chaotic place but one that also has its charms. We especially enjoyed the beautiful buildings in the inner city and the markets just beyond. Lima surprised us.
Lima is a coastal city in Peru. The coastline seems infinite and that makes the city all the more popular. Surfers, hikers, runners and cyclists come here to play sports with a beautiful view. The coastline is surrounded by mountain scenery which reminded us of our trip in South Africa. A beautiful scene that you can watch for hours.
Although the coastline seems to be infinitely long, the beach is on the short side. It can get very busy in the afternoon and that is exactly why the beach did not delight us, despite the high temperatures that rose to about thirty degrees celsius. We did enjoy a sea breeze walk along the coast and took a lunch break at the top of a mountain with sea views. Highly recommended!
Although Lima is so large and large cities usually have a higher level of crime, we felt extremely safe on the streets. Also in the evening we never felt unsafe. There is always a lot of people on the streets and the people there are unimaginably friendly. There is a guard or police officer in the area. These also make you aware to keep your valuables with you. For example, a security guard kindly asked us to put our backpack on our lap instead of hanging from our seat during our lunch. It didn’t feel unsafe for us to hang our backpack on the chair, but we did find it perceptive and thoughtful that the agent spoke to us about it. Safety is paramount in Lima, so much is clear!
South America is an all color. And in Lima, it’s no different. There are coloured garlands with pompoms everywhere and on the street you will find all kinds of houses in bright colours ranging from green to pink. Barranco is a specific neighbourhood where this is very striking. This neighborhood is dotted with color and cheerfulness. This makes us happy! It’s definitely one of the most beautiful neighborhoods of Lima you must have seen. In addition to the houses, the costume of the average Peruvian is also colorful. Just think of the typical ponchos and scarves of alpaca wool. All in the most beautiful colors!
Week in Peru – Cusco
After a few days in Lima we headed to Cusco to admire the beautiful nature. From Cusco we would also go to the world famous Machu Picchu. But more on that later.
To Cusco we went on a domestic flight. We chose this option because a bus trip of about eight hours didn’t exactly appeal to us. You’ll be there by plane. Cusco is at an altitude of almost 3400 meters above sea level. So we’ve had to do that in person.
The first day we felt a bit “strange” with here and there slight complaints of headaches. But the next day, everything got worse. Bursting headaches, nausea and vomiting, difficulty breathing, swivel and numbness on hands and feet. Altitude sickness, altitude sickness or soroche, is a type of disease that you get when you stay (too fast) at a certain height. Our body could not adapt quickly enough to the thin air at this altitude so that all the above symptoms (may) occur. Some people don’t suffer from it, but we do. That’s what happens when you come from low Belgium.
Unfortunately, it didn’t last a few hours for Sigrid so we decided to contact a doctor. At a local hospital, she was given oxygen and some medication for nausea and headaches. Oxygen is the only cure that helps with acute altitude sickness. After a few hours in the hospital, the symptoms became less. And the next day we felt a little better. However, a number of symptoms remain, such as twistiness and tingling in fingers and toes. Unfortunately, you have to live with that when you stay in Cusco. Yet at least for a number of days. The people who live here are no longer affected.
After we were both on the better hand, we moved into downtown Cusco. A charming place packed with shops selling alpaca wool souvenirs. From clothes to key chains. And all that topped with colors and patterns. Certainly the neighborhood of San Blas is quite charming. You will find numerous trendy shops with handmade clothing and jewellery. What a cozy place! In the evening it gets even cosier when the street lights go on and you see thousands of bright spots in the surrounding mountains. Wonderful! Despite being sick, Cusco has so much to offer. We’re glad we’ve been here!
Next week in Peru
In the coming week in Peru we will do some excursions from Cusco. Rainbow Mountain was on the schedule but due to the altitude sickness it doesn’t seem like a good idea to climb even higher (up to about 5000 meters). On top of that, it’s a huge effort and our body can’t handle it at the moment. We are already out of breath down the stairs we take at the hotel. Altitude sickness is no laughing matter. So we will do other trips from Cusco and next week we will head towards Machu Picchu. We’re looking forward to it!