Peru

First week in Peru – Discover Lima and Cusco

Lima and Cusco

Discover

To start 2020 well, we booked our flight to Peru in the last week of 2019. As nature lovers, this country has been on our bucket list for a long time and now the time had come to discover. The past week we were in the capital Lima and then we moved on to touristy Cusco. Read all about our first week in Peru here.

Our flight to Lima

Our flight to Lima in Peru departed from Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam. This is about a two hour drive from Belgium where we live. Amsterdam is the closest place for us to take 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 no superfluous luxury. After all, you are on the road all day and relaxation on the plane is welcome.

Week in Peru - town square
Colorful buildings in Peru

Week in Peru

Lima

The flight itself was not too bad. Not counting the other passengers. This is something that annoys us again and again, even though we try so hard not to do it. We think we are quite tolerant, but some passengers always show their “best” side on a flight. Or are we the only ones affected? That aside, after a tiring flight, there was still a very long queue waiting for us at the border control in Lima airport. After almost 24 hours on the road, we finally arrived at our hotel.

Since we were travelling around the clock and arrived in Lima around evening, we could go to sleep right away. We always woke up around five or six in the morning. Not immediately pleasant to be awake so early but it did ensure that we did not have jet lag. Our bodies did not really have to recuperate from the hour change and that was a nice experience. Usually we are sick for a few days or sleep badly because of the jet lag, like in Mexico , but not this time. Great!

Amazed by Lima

Lima itself is a matropole of ten million people. It goes without saying that we could not explore the entire city in just a few days. The historic centre is, of course, something you must have seen. Lima reminded us of several countries we had already visited. Here, we felt as if we were back in Cuba (but prettier!) combined with the atmospheric music and good-humoured people of Mexico. It was a happy reunion with a culture close to our hearts.

If you venture just outside the historic heart of Lima, you will soon find yourself in a very different kind of atmosphere. As quiet as it is in the core, it is busy in the periphery. People and vendors are walking everywhere and you are constantly approached to buy something. A chaotic place but one that also has its charms. We especially enjoyed the beautiful buildings in the city centre and the markets just outside. Lima amazed us.

Barranco disctrict in Lima
Streets Lima

Infinite coastline

Lima is a coastal city in Peru. The coastline seems endless and that makes the city all the more popular. Surfers, walkers, runners and cyclists come here to exercise with a beautiful view. The coastline is surrounded by mountain scenery, which in turn reminded us of our trip in South Africa . A beautiful scene that you can look at for hours.

Although the coastline seems infinitely long, the beach is on the short side. It can get very crowded in the afternoon and that is exactly the reason why the beach did not appeal to us, despite the high temperatures that rose to about thirty degrees Celsius. We did enjoy a sea-breeze walk along the coast and had a lunch break at the top of a mountain with a sea view. Highly recommended!

Safe feeling

Although Lima is so big and big cities usually have a higher crime rate, we felt very safe on the streets. We never felt unsafe in the evening either. The streets are always crowded and the people are incredibly friendly. In addition, there is a guard or a policeman nearby almost everywhere. They also remind you to keep your valuables with you. For example, a security guard kindly asked us to put our backpacks on our laps instead of hanging from our seats during lunch. It did not feel unsafe for us to hang our backpacks on the seat, but we think it was thoughtful that the officer spoke to us about it. Safety is key in Lima, that’s obvious!

Colorful

South America is a colourful place. And it is no different in Lima. Colourful garlands with pompoms are everywhere and in the streets you will find all kinds of houses in bright colours ranging from green to pink. A specific neighbourhood where this is very noticeable is Barranco. This district is full of colour and good vibes. This makes us happy! It is certainly one of the most beautiful neighbourhoods of Lima you must visit. Besides the houses, the costumes of the average Peruvian are also colourful. Think of the typical ponchos and scarves made of alpaca wool. All in the most beautiful colours!

Square in Lima
Week in Peru - coastline

Week in Peru

Cusco

After spending a few days in Lima, we headed for Cusco to admire the beautiful nature. From Cusco we would also go to the world famous Machu Picchu . But more about this later.

We went to Cusco with a domestic flight. We chose this option because a bus journey of about eight hours did not particularly appeal to us. It is easy to get there by plane. Cusco lies at an altitude of almost 3400 metres above sea level. Not to be underestimated, as we have noticed.

National Parks

The first day we felt a bit “strange” with slight complaints of headaches here and there. But the next day everything got worse. Crackling headache, nausea and vomiting, difficulty breathing, vertigo and numbness in the hands and feet. Altitude sickness, altitude sickness or soroche , is a kind of illness that you get when you stay (too quickly) at a certain altitude. Our bodies could not adapt quickly enough to the different air at this altitude, which is why all the above symptoms (can) occur. Some people will not have symptoms, but of course we did. That’s what happens when you come from low Belgium .

Unfortunately, Sigrid did not just suffer from symptoms for a few hours, but kept on feeling miserable, so we decided to contact a doctor. In a local hospital, she was given oxygen and some medication for nausea and headaches. Oxygen is the only remedy for acute altitude sickness. After a couple of hours at the hospital, the symtoms decreased. And the next day we felt a little better. However, some symptoms remain, such as dizziness and tingling in fingers and toes. Unfortunately, you have to learn to live with that when you stay in Cusco. At least for a few days. Fortunately, the people who live here do not suffer from it (anymore).

Church in Cusco
Streets of Cusco

Charming

After we had both recovered, we went into the city centre of Cusco. A charming place full of shops selling souvenirs made from alpaca wool. From clothing to key rings. And all of this is covered in colours and patterns. The San Blas area is especially charming. Here you will find numerous trendy shops selling handmade clothing and jewellery. What a cosy place! It gets even cosier in the evening when the streetlights come on and you can see thousands of little lights in the surrounding mountains. Magnificent! Despite being sick, Cusco has so much to offer. We are glad we came here!

Next week in Peru

During the next week in Peru, we will do some excursions from Cusco. Rainbow Mountain was planned, but because of altitude sickness we don’t think it’s a good idea to climb any higher (up to about 5000 metres). On top of that, it is an enormous effort and our bodies cannot cope with that at the moment. We are already tired from taking the stairs in the hotel. Altitude sickness is no joke. So we will do other trips from Cusco and next week we will head towards Machu Picchu . We’re looking forward!

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