I was a little nervous when I booked my TACA flight from Lima to Cusco, knowing city stands at the high elevation of 11,200 feet (3,400 meters). I so badly wanted to hike Machu Picchu (which is about four hours from Cusco) but didn’t want to spend three days with altitude sickness. To prepare, I got a prescription of Acetazolamide from my doctor and planned to drink Coca Tea once I arrived at Hotel Cusi Wasi.
It took me about two hours to adjust to the altitude, but once I did, I felt just fine. I spent my first day on a Cusco City Tour.
At Museo Qorikancha, our tour guide, Manu, told us that it’s still a mystery how the Incas hauled tons of basalt (volcanic rock) from 20 miles away and fitted stones together so perfectly that the walls were able to withstand an earthquake.
Sacsayhuaman (Saksaywaman) is the most amazing Incan ruin in Cusco. People often joke that the name sounds like “sexy woman.” I wished I could have stayed there an entire afternoon and enjoyed a picnic!
At dusk, we admired the aqueducts, canals and waterfalls in the terraced rocks at Tambomachay, a stop on the Incan Trail.
If you’re planning a visit, be sure to enjoy these impressive sites before you visit Machu Picchu. Any other Incan site will seem dwarfed in comparison with Machu Picchu; but the sites in Cusco are amazing in their own right and worth seeing!