Hello and welcome back to my Travel Peru series! This will be my second last post in the series, Cusco was the last city we stayed in before heading back to Canada. Cusco has pretty much everything in terms of extreme activities. You can bunjee jump, slingshot (reverse bunjee jumping) ride ziplines, river raft, visit historical sites, hike.. the list just goes on. We didn’t do everything in Cusco because we burned through our money pretty fast in all the other places we visit, but we made sure to do a bit of adventuring.
Once again we hopped on an overnight bus. This time we went to an actual bus terminal, bought tickets and rode the fanciest bus I’ve ever seen. Security at the terminal was a lot more uptight than the airport security had been. They checked our passports as well as screened us for metal and searched our bags.
The double decker bus had large reclining leather seats in rows of two. We were given pillows, blankets and food. The food wasn’t the best and there weren’t vegetarian options. Luckily our guides knew this before hand and made sure we ate prior to arrival at the bus station. Before the bus got going the bus operators went around with a camcorder and made every person briefly stare at the camera. I’m still not entirely sure why, our guide told us it was to help identify bodies in case of a crash… I’m still not sure if he was joking or not
No matter how comfortable the busses we travelled on were, overnight travel in Peru is rough. The roads twist and wind their way through the Andes mountain range and I couldn’t help waking up feeling terrified that our bus was about to fall off a cliff. I was relieved when we arrived safely at the Wild Rover Hostel. As I mentioned in my previous travel posts our tour company messed up when we booked and marked my husband and I as siblings and roomed us in separate dorms. LBW tried to correct it but the best they could do at Wild rover was put us in a four person dorm with twin bunk beds and two girls from our tour group. It wasn’t awful, but it wasn’t ideal either.
Cusco Walking Tour
If you’re in Peru you absolutely must do a walking tour with a guide. It’s free and a good way to orient yourself with the downtown area and some of the local culture. We began in the main square downtown and wound our way between stone buildings, through markets and up steep hills.
After seeing the main square we were led through a marketplace where we got to meet alpacas & llamas! They were so chill, just sitting there and letting people pet them. Of course there was a mound of food in front of them to munch on so I’m sure that helped keep them calm.
In addition to the walking tour LBW arranged a bus trip up Mount Pukamuqu to see the Christo Blanco statue where we had a lovely view of Cusco below. On the way we stopped at a local alpaca wool boutique called Inka’s Expression and learned about the traditional hand weaving and dying process the locals use to make alpaca wool textiles. It turned out to be really interesting!
We were shown all sorts of herbs and plants that are used to make natural dyes which last longer than chemical dyes. One things that stood out was the use of cochinillia, a parasite that grows on cacti. This is used a lot in cosmetics which of course make them non-vegan. When crushed it excretes a red, blood-like substance that when combined with other substances like lemon juice or salt creates a completely different vibrant colour. They demonstrated for us the mixing of the herbs before they taught us how to recognize a real alpaca wool garment from a fake one. For example Alpaca wool smells like burning hair when lit, and also smells bad when wet.
San Pedro Market
If you’re anywhere near downtown Peru you have to see the San Pedro market — It’s huge! There are so many artisans selling goods and fresh fruit, baking, nuts, seeds.. anything you can think of it’s there! We did most of our souvenir shopping at the market. Unfortunately I don’t have many clear photos of the market. Mike & I expected to go back one more time before we left for the Rainforest so I was going to get my blog photos then. As fate would have it we had to return home early. I guess you guys will have to just go see it yourself 😉