[Day 16] Last day in Bolivia

Last day in Bolivia. I wanted this to be a lazy day and the accommodation I picked was the best for that. The official check out was until 1pm! I’ve never heard of a hotel’s check out time being this late. However, this was my only full day in La Paz so I wanted to check it out.

I packed my bags, checked out of the hotel around 11am, stored luggage at the hotel, and ventured out.

First, we headed to st. Francisco church to meet a new travel buddy for the day. As this trip was my first trip alone, I tried to gather people to travel with, before and during the trip. And I think I was very successful. Throughout my whole trip, I was with someone and everyone has been awesome.

So today, I met up with my new travel buddy and headed to Valle de la Luna. Before, I looked at tour agencies but could not find something that suited my schedule. So I decided to take the local bus. After some searching, a lot of people were pointing me to bus #43. However, after waiting for over 30 minutes, we asked the police for help. They told us to take #902 going to Mallas.

The bus was only 2 bol but the traffic was awful! If you are going to visit Valle de la Luna by bus, please go early in the morning. It took over an hour and the road was rough. The bus system was interesting. It was more l ike a mini van. People would fill in the seats and when it was full, the driver would not stop at any of the other stops until someone got off. And people paid the driver as they got off.

Once at Valle de la Luna, there was an entrance fee of 15 bol and there were several different trails, all marked with how long it takes, and we decided to take the 45 minute one. The trail was beautiful and presented itself with a very different kind of view than what I expected. Since it was named Valley of the Moon, I was sort of expecting craters or something similar to it. However, the Valley was filled more more sharp peaks and cliffs. Luckily, the trail had a lot of railings for safety. They also had lots of picturesque areas to take photos so even on the 45 minute trail, it took longer.

Also, it was really hot! The Valley did not provide any shade and since we were there around 1pm, the sun was really on top of us. Make sure to bring a lot of water because the trail doesn’t have any fountains. The trail is one way so you just have to keep going. There are lots of ups and downs so be ready to walk.

After finishing the trail, we decided to go back to the city. This time, we wanted to take the telefarico. So we took a cab to the closest line, which was the green line. The cab was 25 bol and at the green line, we bought tickets to Prado, which was 15 bol for 3 people.

From the green line, we transferred to the blue/celestial line and got off at Prado. From here, we walked to Witch’s Market. It was so small. Smaller than I expected. There were small, individual shops that all sold similar things like stones, perfume, incense, and items for rituals like dried animal and animal parts. I wasn’t sure what to buy here so I just took pictures. I wasn’t super impressed but very unique.

So we headed to dinner. We wanted to find some traditional Bolivian food so we searched for a place and found “Luciernagas Restaurant” and this place was amazing. It was all home cooking and tasted great. The restaurant is in a residential area so while looking for it, I thought we were so lost.

Once we were at the restaurant, we met the owner and his wife. The owner recommended our meals and the wife cooked for us. It was a family owned business and really great for home cooked meals. They had an extensive menu but there were several things that were not available, so ask! We ordered a soup and main entree to share. The portions were pretty big here.

After dinner, we wanted to see the city light up the night. I was told the best view of the city was at Killi Killi park. I was told the Park could be dangerous at night but when we were there, it didn’t seem too bad. There were several travelers taking photos there and some locals playing around. It was cold but the view was nice. The lights from the city sparkled and provided a good city view.

One thing that worried me was the ride back. Our hotel was nice enough to get us a cab when we went up to the park but the way down was different. We tried to call an Uber but they wouldn’t come. We thought about walking down but that was a long walk. Lucky for us, a tourist came up and we were able to take that cab back to the hotel.

While going back, we saw the night market and it was really lively. I wish I could have visited. It looked like there were lots of food vendors. Once we were at the hotel, I said good bye to my travel buddies and headed to the airport.

Since I was taking the night plane out of Bolivia, the airport was very empty. It took only minutes to check in and it was very simple and quick. I wasn’t looking forward to ending my trip but was looking forward to sleeping in my bed again. After checking in, I headed inside to use the lounge. It had a small selection of things but had warm food like pancakes, cold food like cereals, and drinks. They have 3 different local beers and pepsi products.

This concluded by trip to Peru and Bolivia. It was my first time traveling in South America and it was amazing. I cannot wait to come back soon.

[Day 15] Last day in Uyuni

I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do another tour before leaving Uyuni but everyone I talked to said that day time is different from sunset so I decided to do a last tour. (3 tours just in Uyuni!) There are usually several tours each day and they are all separately by time.

Starlight+Sunrise is the earliest one, usually from 3am to 7:30am. Day time is 10am to 3:30pm. There is also Day time+Sunset which is from 10:30am to 8:30pm. The one I did previously was the Sunset+Starlight, from 4pm to 10pm. And lastly, there is just Starlight, which is from 11pm to 3am. The times could be slightly different for each tour agency but it would be very similar to this.

I checked the moon and sun phase to make sure I would be able to see the stars. Depending on when the sun sets and when the moon rises, you might see more stars in the Sunset+Starlight or Starlight+Sunrise. They are all beautiful.

So the day time tour was from 10am to 3:30pm and since it was our last day, we also had to check out. So we woke up early, packed our things, eat our last breakfast, checked out and headed to the tour agency. We were able to leave our luggage at our accommodation and they also told me that they can provide the shower after the tour. Score!

We requested another Photography session with As and headed out. As told us that if we go with a photographer, usually the driving route changes so that people can get more of the salt flat shot. However, since we requested it, we were able to visit the train cemetery. It wasn’t as impressive as I imagined but still very cool to look at. There were several trains that were just abandoned on the unused tracks. Interesting enough, there was actually an active track right next to the cemetery. We were able to go on the trains to take pictures but As told me that there were several accidents here so be careful.

After looking around the train cemetery, we headed into the salt flats. First, we visited the dry flats. This was our first time here since for the Sunset+Starlight, they only take you to the wet flats. The dry flats were so different. The ground was sharp and it felt more like a desert. And it was 100% less crowded compared to the wet flats. I mean, we were the only ones here.

There were 4 of us taking photos with the photographer and in between our sessions, we took pictures of each other. We were able to do some illusion shots with different props that the tour agency provided. This includes the dino shot, wine bottle shot, and the stomping shots. These are probably the most common photos you would see online if you searched Uyuni. Our driver was nice enough to take some photos of us while we waited for our photographer!

*Remember! They are your driver, not your photographer! Some of them have had this job for a long time and may have experience taking these types of photos but they are not required to take them for you. If they do take photos/videos of you, make sure to tip well for their extra service.

I thought the weather was perfect for pictures. No cloud in sight. However, we found out it was a bust when we got to the wet flats. The wind was too strong and we couldn’t get the reflections at all. You could see ripples everywhere. It was unfortunate but we still had fun. This time, the photographer brought some props along, like flower bouquets and colorful umbrella! It was different and difficult, taking pictures with props. This was my first time taking pictures like this so I felt so awkward. If you are interested in doing a photo session, make sure to practice at home!

The day time tour was short compared to sunset+starlight so we were back in the city a little past 3:30pm. When we got back to our hotel area, we realized there was a huge market outside our hotel and we wanted to check it out before flying out.

First, we decided to take a shower. However, the hotel told us that they could provide the shower but no towels. Luckily, I had brought a towel just in case and was able to take a quick shower. They even provided a rest space if you wanted to take a nap. It was a smaller room upstairs with a single size bed. Because Uyuni is a tourist town, hotels might offer such service. Make sure to ask the hotel you are staying in to see if they have such space.

After washing up, we went out to the market. This market had everything! They had live animals for sale, mostly chickens, clothing for all ages, kitchenware, and of course, food. I walked down for about 10 minutes but I was still seeing rows of shops. However, it looked like they were still setting up. So I decided to check out the city a bit more.

Walking up the main street, there was a decent size super market. From here, I got an ice cream bar and it was so refreshing! During the day time, the sun was still hot so it was nice to just chill and eat some ice cream.

Also, right across the street, there was an arcade. They had several different games from street fighter, tekken, FIFA, and more. But their biggest thing was PUMP. I was so surprised to find a PUMP machine here so I just had to play. All the games were 1 bol. I didn’t have coins on me but there was someone here that did the exchange. I wanted to play more but after 1 game I was done! Not because I was tired but because of the altitude. My lungs were just screaming for air but I had a lot of fun, walking dancing through memory lane. While I was catching my breath, I watched some of the local kids play games and did not realize time was passing so fast.

When I walked back outside, the market was now bustling with people. A lot of kids were out with their parents, shopping and hanging out with friends. I wanted to grab something to eat before heading to the airport so I looked around the market. I really wanted the fried chicken cutlet again but it was closed. I’m guessing it was because of the market being open. So I looked around the market and several of the places looked like it had lines.

I knew I didn’t have much time now and I needed to get something to-go, so I found a stall that was selling chicken and other things. I wasn’t so sure what was on the menu but I pointed at the chicken and chorizo and was able to get it to-go.

After getting my food, we took a cab to the airport. It was 15 bol per person this time. The cab ride was short and the check in process was even shorter. It took less than 5 minutes to check in. We were flying with Amazonas and they allowed 1 free checked bag. So I checked one of my bag and ate my dinner using my other bag as a table.

The chicken was cooked perfectly and the chorizo was spicy enough. As I was enjoying the food, more and more people were coming into the airport and the line was getting longer. There were only 2 people working the check in desk but it was moving pretty quickly.

Soon, they told everyone to move into the actual lounge area. Before moving, we had to pay the airport tax. You cannot fly out of Uyuni without paying the tax. It was 11 bol and they gave me change back.

To get to the lounge, you had to go through a metal detector. However, they did not have one for bags. Some of the bags were hand checked but not all of them. It was a very short process and also very interesting. They also do not mind if you bring water in. And as I stated before, it was a very small airport. We had to walk to the tarmac again to get on the plane, just as we did when we got here.

The plane ride was uneventful. Once we were out of Uyuni’s range, it was pitch black outside. It really felt like there was nothing out there but soon, the lights from La Paz started to glow. When we got to La Paz airport, we had a taxi driver waiting for us and we got to the hotel safely.

We were not planning on doing anything too crazy the next day so we decided to Netflix and chill for a bit. The Loki Boutique, our accommodation, had free Netflix, so we watched John Wick. What a good way to relax and end the night.

[Day 14] Night time one more time

I was planning on waking up early and maybe doing a full day tour but I decided on sleeping in a little bit more and doing another Sunset+Starlight tour with Brisa again. I could have gone to another company but I really enjoyed our tour spot yesterday and thought why change if it was good.

So I headed back to the office. On my way, there were a lot of people out in the main square area. It looked like they were having a sports day? It felt like the whole city was out. There were several sports teams including for soccer, teakwondo, and more. There were also a lot of people with instruments and people who were dressed up. I wasn’t sure what was going on but they all seemed like they were having fun.

It took about 15 minutes to get to Brisa Tours and the paper forms were almost all full! I quickly reserved a spot for the Sunset+Starlight tour by writing my name and paying inside. Since this was my second tour, they gave me a slight discount of 120 bol, instead of 130.

After reserving the spot, I walked around the area, looking for some good souvenirs. In front of one of the stores, there was a lady selling fresh orange juice. I love orange juice and since it was fresh, I couldn’t resist. One thing that was a bit different was that she squeezed the orange and then added some honey to it. Never thought of adding honey but it was good. If you like cold/chilled orange juice, this isn’t for you.

Walking around the shops, we found some good souvenirs. I bought some post cards and magnet and my companions bought different flavored salts. After buying the post card, I went back to Brisa Tours to ask about where I can find some stamps or if they had a post office. They told me that they used to have a post office but they no longer have one! WHAT?!? I guess not a lot of people here were sending and receiving physical things anymore.

With this sad news, I decided to go eat some lunch to make me feel better. Across the street from Brisa Tours, there was a new Chinese restaurant that opened up and we decided to check it out. They had some items that were Korean style Chinese cusine so we wanted to try it out. We got Jajangmyeon (blackbean noodles) and beef noodle soup. While I enjoyed the beef noodle soup, the jajangmyeon’s flavor was closer to the Chinese style. If you were expecting the Korean style flavor, you won’t find it here. I still liked both of them. They were different but good.

After lunch, we headed back to our hotel and got ready for the tour. This time, I packed my camera, tripod, extra battery, extra SD card, pancho, jacket, sunglasses, hot pack, and most importantly, extra socks. The car was packed and we started the ride with introductions and luckily, our driver was the same as yesterday! Edward!

Edward drove us to the best spot again and here, he took a ton of pictures and videos of us, individually and as a group. He was so dedicated.

*One thing to note! The person that drives you out is the DRIVER! They are not your photographers nor your guide. They may have experiences and may offer to take photos or give you information but if they don’t, DO NOT complain about it! It is not part of their duty to take photos.

Since our group got to know each other a bit, we all took photos of each other and we had a blast. The atmosphere was very different from yesterday, even the weather was different. However, I think both days were wonderful.

I think our group had good chemistry and we had so much fun taking pictures of each other even though we were complete strangers. I also think Edward contributed to that chemistry!

Once again, we waited for the sun to set completely and for the stars to come out. While it was dark, we decided to take some lettering photos with the help from Edward. He told us how to hold our phones and write the letters backwards.

We tried so many times to just get Uyuni right LOL but this one was the best shot. We were able to do everyone’s name before the stars began to show.

The stars were amazing as usual. The way the Milky Way was pointing straight at the city was just amazing. However, I personally did not like the positioning of the car and the city. I asked Edward if we could move the car just a bit and BAM!

I got the angled shot I was hoping to get. Again, this is with my camera (Sony a5) on a tripod on a timer. I had to do several test shots to get this one shot and I am super proud of myself for getting it! I look like I’m basking in starlight, just radiating. And Edward was amazing to let me on top of the car. I have been told that they don’t let people on top of the car because it damages that car too much.

After seeing my photo, everyone wanted one. So we asked Edward if it was ok and he gave us the thumbs up. So I took everyone’s photos in the poses that wanted and they all looked great! I ended up becoming a photographer for the night and it was a lot of fun. We all shared some hot packs together and stayed outside longer.

After the tour ended, the group wanted to buy me dinner for taking their photos so we went to eat some chicken. There were several churrasqueria but only this one looked open.

They didn’t have everything from their menu so we ordered that they had. The Pollo Simple. I was surprised when it came with spaghetti. I thought it would be fried rice. The chicken was really good. Very juice. But the spaghetti was a bit dry with no sauce. I think rice would have been better.

But I was full and happy and was able to go to bed extremely satisfied.

[Day 13] Off to Uyuni

We woke up early in the morning, packed up, and headed to the airport at 6:30am. The hotel was able to get us a taxi fairly quick. The city of La Paz at sunrise was beautiful. The pink tone building with the early morning light was a sight to see. The road was clear so we were able to get to the airport in no time. Check in was a breeze too and headed to grab some breakfast.

Not all the restaurants in the airport were open and we had limited options. And since we were in Bolivia, I wanted to try something Bolivian. So I got Huminta, a Bolivian style tamale, and Tikimanas, a Bolivian style empanada. They were both really flavorful and filling. I actually couldn’t finish both of them because of their size. I didn’t realize how big they would be. But my travel companions were there to help me. For both, it was 17.5 bol. Not bad for breakfast at the airport.

The airport was so small that even the check point took only about 5 minutes and they didn’t take my water away. Once we were inside, we wanted for our boarding time. It was interesting since the boarding time was the same as the last call. There were a lot of people getting to the gate at the last minute, including us!

The plane that we took was really small and the ride was pretty bumpy. Once we got to Uyuni airport, we all got off at the tarmac. The Uyuni airport was TINY. It was the smallest airport I’ve seen. They did not even have a baggage claim belt. It was just this one corner they used as the baggage claim area. They don’t check tags or anything so keep your eyes open for your bag.

We took a taxi from the airport to our hotel. The interesting thing at Uyuni was that the taxi charges per person! So they try to fill the car up before leaving. The cost from the airport was 10 bol per person. With that, no one has to worry about if you are getting cheated on your taxi fare.

I wanted to try something new while at Uyuni and decided to stay at the salt hotel. We stayed at Hotel de Sal – Casa Andina. This is not the famous salt hotel but it had salt components in the hotel and the location was decent. We were a bit early for check in, so we left our luggage here and headed to book our tours.

There were several different tour agencies in Uyuni that specialized in Salt Flat tours. We decided to go with Brisa Tours. They had a tour with a photographer (extra cost) and I wanted some good photos with the stars. I had never done night photography before and since I was already here, I thought I wanted to get some nice photos.

At these tour agencies, they have papers outside that have different type of tours that are available and how many people can sign out. Anyone can come and write their name down and pay inside to make the reservation. We planned on doing the “Sunset + starlight” tour with Photographer As, who was part of Brisa Tours. The tour itself was 130 bol and we had to pay the photographer extra $120.

After we booked our tour, we decided to venture around a bit and grab something to eat before heading out on the tour. We found the local market and noticed that it was very similar to Peru’s market. And while following our nose, we found a fried chicken booth on the back side of the market. It was a bit hidden but those are the best, right?

The fried chicken was amazing! It was close to a chicken cutlet since it was so flat. It came with rice and veggie and the best part. It was only 8 bol.

After our meal, one of my travel companion decided to cut all our hairs! She is a hair designer in South Korea and she brought most of her tools to volunteer in Peru and Bolivia. I wanted to go super short and she just chopped it all off! After my hair cut, she asked around the hotel to see if anyone else wanted a cut and ended up cutting the receptionist’s hair too.

Our tour was at 3pm so after our haircuts, we headed back to the agency. They had a 8 seater van waiting for us. We drove about 20 minutes outside the city to this house to pick up rainboots and drove another 40 minutes to the salt flats. The ride was bumpy and we were told that some parts of the salt flats have sink holes so we all have to be careful. At first, the area was just dry flats and I was really worried we wouldn’t see water since it was dry season. But once we were out there, the view just made me speechless.

The weather was just spectacular with no clouds in sight. Also, the wind wasn’t too strong so we were able to get some good reflections. There was enough water to make the reflection too. Even though it was dry season, the tour agencies all know how far to go in to get the water so you do not need to worry about it.

It was just so pretty! When we got there, it was still very bright. But the sun started to set and the view just became even more amazing. The colors of the sunset seemed different here. And it really felt like we were the only ones here. It was so quiet, so surreal. I took the time to just bask in the sun.

Once the sun was gone, we had to wait for the stars to come up. I wasn’t sure if we would be able to see a lot of stars because the moonrise timing wasn’t that great for us. But slowly, stars were coming out and I was surprised that we were able to see so much of it with our naked eyes.

You could even see the Milky Way with your eyes. This picture was taken with my camera (Sony 5a) on a tripod on a timer. No filter whatsoever. Our photographer brought props that made the photos more interesting. The stars were just memorizing. I couldn’t believe I could see so much with my eyes. When I wasn’t taking photos, I was just looking up in awe. And the camera doesn’t do it justice. It was more mysterious in person and I cannot recommend the Starlight tour enough!

And one thing for sure. Make sure to wear layers or bring more clothes. Especially socks! While taking photos, we had to take off our shoes to get on the roof of the vehicle and in the process, our clothes, mostly our socks, got wet. So next time, extra socks! Also, it was extremely cold outside. Cold enough that my camera lens froze and wouldn’t focus. I had to take it inside the van to heat it up a bit before taking more photos.

After all the photos, we headed back to Uyuni. Even though it was late, everyone was so excited to have seen such a view that we kept talking about it. I definitely was amazing and worth it. I was not 100% satisfied with the pictures I took because it was my first time but it is a learning curve.

I did not plan much of Uyuni because everyone had said that everything is up to chances and luck. You might get lucky with day time weather, but not with night time weather. I heard so much of “what if” that I wanted to give myself a lot of buffer to work with.

I was debating doing a full day tour but I decided to wait to see what my body thinks the next day.

[DAY 12] From Peru to Bolivia

The bus … even the downstair ones wasn’t that comfortable. However, I still managed to pass out for a bit. A lot of places complained about the smell from the bathroom on the 1st floor but there was a door that separated the bathroom from the main area so I didn’t smell a thing.

Also, before taking off, a staff member took breakfast orders for when we arrive at Puno. It was 9 sol and optional and I ended up opting out and slept in more. After breakfast, we were taken to the pier and took a motor boat to the Uros Island. The guide gave us a quick history lesson about the Titikaka lake and how the Islands formed.

Once we were out in the lake, we were able to see several islands. These islands were all manmade with weed from the lake. It was amazing to see this plant-weaved island just floating. We visited Isla Los Uros Suma Chaulla and the people there were very welcoming. They also gave us a history lesson on their Island, how to weave the island, and how they stay afloat. It was facinating.

The people of Uros Islands made their living from tourism mostly. So their income was based on people like us visiting their islands and they also sold handmade souvenirs. The souvenirs are cheaper on mainland but they do have some unique Uros items. To get to the next location, you had the option of taking the motor boat or taking the Uros boat (weed boat in the picture above) for 10 sol. I opted for the Uros boat since it looked interesting.

Once we were on the other side, we got back to our bus and headed for the border. At the border, there were several money exchange booths and I exchanged all the sol to bol. The rate when I went was $1 = 6.9 bol.

Once you are done exchanging currency, you head up the road with your luggage and cross the border. They don’t do luggage checks or anything. And the last thing of Peru you see is the red Peru sign. A lot of people were in line taking pictures with it.

I also wanted to take a picture but I wasn’t able to get my Bolivian Visa before my trip so I had to get it here.

There is a Visa office at the entrance of Bolivia and there are stores here that have internet and printing for a fee if you didn’t bring all the documents. I forgot to bring a copy of my passport so I made a copy here for 1 bol. The Visa was $160 US dollars and you have the option to pay with cash or credit card. They don’t take cash that is damaged so be aware.

It took about 15 minutes to get my Visa and the Peru Hop bus had to wait for me. The officers here are not fast workers and they do make you wait. So if you think time might be an issue, make sure to get your visa in your country before coming.

Also, people were telling me that I might need to get some shots before to apply for the Visa but the office did not ask for any sort of document. However, I have heard from others that they do check for shots and if you don’t have them at the border, you might be out of luck. So again, get your Visa before coming.

Once we were all cleared, we got on a different bus (this one said Bolivia Hop) and headed to Copacabana. This was a beautiful lake city. It was the same lake that bordered Puno, Lake Titikaka. We were now seeing it from the Bolivian side. It seemed like a resort town. With lots of small boats all around.

I was super hungry since I didn’t get to eat breakfast. So we headed to the waters. When you walk towards the lake, on the left side, you see a lot of tents. These tents were all individual Kiosk for Trucha, Trout. They are caught in Lake titikaka and are famous “must have” for this region. We visited Kiosk #12. My companion told me that #12 was famous and the chef has been featured on different shows and such. When we got to the kiosk, it smelled so good and made me even more hungry!

We ordered the garlic trout and the Diablo. With a name like that, I thought maybe it might be spicy. Wrong guess. But it was still really good! The fish was cooked to perfection. The outside was crispy and in the inside was juicy. And the flavors were on point! And both of the trouts came with yuka fries and was very filling. We must have came during the workers lunch time because right after cooking our food, the staff and chef all came out to eat. They were very generous and gave us some of their foods (different things from the menu) and they were also really good. I think one of them was the pork rind and it was really juicy! They also gave us 1 soda for free! So for 2 trucha, 1 soda, and some other tasty foods, it cost us 50 bol.

After lunch, we decided to walk to the top of the trail “El Calvario” to get a better view of the city. The hike was pretty hard. Lots of rocks. Also, there is no bathroom up top so make sure to use the down at the bottom of the trail. The trail itself only took about 50 minutes and we were able to spend some time at the top just enjoying the view, taking in fresh air, and laying about.

There are no signs that point to the trail but since there is only one trail, all the locals know where it is. Also, google map works pretty well here and I used it to find the entrance. There is plenty of time to do the hike so I highly recommend it! I mean, look at that view!

After the hike, we headed to the local bar/restaurant to relax before getting on the bus again. With the Peru/Bolivia Hop bus, you get a wrist band that gives you some discount at local places. This KM Zero Pub was one of them. I ordered Pineapple Juice which was 10 bol but I got a 15% discount! Score. It was so refreshing to just sit, relax, and drink.

The bus was supposed to come at 6pm so we walked back to the lake side but the bus was nowhere to be found. So I walked around the pier area and took some pictures as the sun was setting. There was a couple playing some music by the lake and it was just beautiful. If I had an extra day, I would have visited the Isla del Sol but I have been told that there were some violent incidents recently. So I opted out. Maybe next time.

Once we got back on the bus, I thought this was it. That we were heading to La Paz. Yes, we were heading to La Paz but we had one more major stop. We got off at this lake and we had a take a smaller boat across the lake and they also had to ferry the bus. It was fascinating! Once we were on the other side, there was a bathroom (1 bol) and some food stalls. Use the bathroom here since the new bus doesn’t have a bathroom in them. And if you needed dinner, this is the spot. The 2 stalls I took a look at were both sandwich places and the prices ranged from 7 ~ 15 bol. They don’t really have a menu and I believe you pick the meat and if you want fried egg or not. If you are feeling adventurous, go for it!

Once we were back on the bus, they played a movie for us (Major Payne) and gave us popcorn. If you are interested in seeing the movie, sit up front! And with almost perfect timing, we arrived in La Paz as the movie was ending. The guide took everyone’s accommodation so we were being dropped off one by one. Most of us were not dropped off right in front of the hotels but our guide told us which way to walk. Overall, the bus ride was good and I would recommend it to people who are traveling between Cusco and La Paz and have time to spare.

Our accommdation for the night was at Loki Boutique. We were only staying 1 night since we were going to Uyuni the next morning but it was a good place. The room was a bit chilly even with the space heater but the shower had plenty of hot water. I mean.. really HOT. And the blankets were thick enough.

[Day 11] Pisac and Peru Hop to Bolivia

Last day in Cusco! This was a buffer day I gave myself for recovery but if you are in a hurry, I think this would be the day you could cut out.

We packed all our bags and stored them at the hostel and began our last adventure in Cusco. Of all the places, we did not get to see Pisac so we decided to head over. We called an Uber and our driver was really nice. He did not speak much English but he stopped from time to time and let us take pictures of the valley and pointed out the ruins on the way. And in no time, we were in Pisac.

I’m not sure what I was expecting but wow! This was a huge market. There were rows after rows of stalls of all kinds of goods. If you couldn’t find something you liked in Cusco, you could probably find something in Pisac. My friends purchased some art pieces and coasters and I got some baby alpaca yarn.

They also had lots of produce vendors and food stalls as well. Many of the places were selling fruits, veggies, and seafood, and you could hear a lot of bargaining happening. As for foods, a lot of the stalls were selling similar things such as fried chicken, chicken soup, and fried rice.

While walking around, we found an empanada place that had a huge outdoor oven and ended up filling ourselves with empanadas. They had 3 flavors, chicken, beef, and mushroom, and they were all very good. Once you pick a flavor, they reheat it in the oven, and it gets all nice and toasty.

We did not get to see the Pisac ruins but we had a lot of fun exploring the market. It had a ton of things to offer so take time browsing. Also, don’t buy things until you’ve walked in a bit. The stalls right at the beginning on the street tend to be more pricey. Still, things are definitely cheaper here compared to Cusco but you need to haggle for it. A lot of the vendors are willing to listen to your offer but don’t lowball them! Have fun and be reasonable 🙂

Once we were done shopping in Pisac, we headed back to Cusco. We had time for one more meal and this one had to be the anticuchos. We didn’t really get to try authentic anticuchos so this was our last chance. I asked several different locals and the answer I got the most of Don Miguelito so we had a winner!

It wasn’t very closed to the center of the city so we had to uber. When our driver dropped us off, I thought maybe we were at a wrong place. The area seemed very old and even though there was a sign, when we walked in, it was dark and the things on display were ice cream and beauty products.

The restaurant itself was only on the 2nd floor and when we got there, there was already one table eating. They didn’t have any English menus and we had to go off of pictures (Thank goodness they had pictures!)

This place was most definitely a hole in the wall kind of place. It was a bit out of our way but it was so worth it. The place is very small with about 6 tables. We got there early and there wasn’t a lot of people but when we left, the tables were filling up. For 3 people, it was about 15 sol each and for the price, you leave very full.

After our meal, we headed straight to the Peru Hop Bus Station. One thing to note is that there were several bus terminals in Cusco and you have to find the right one! Peru Hop has their own station so make sure you find the one for your bus.

We got to the Station at 7:30pm and we weren’t the first one there! There was already a family here waiting for the bus and the cleaning crew. People can come wait at the station but staff is not available until 30 minutes before departure. The cleaning crew left around 8pm, leaving the passengers all alone. You have to wait outside but they close the gate so it feels a bit safe.

30 minutes before, two staff members came and checked us in and gave us wrist bands. Once you had the band, you were allowed to board the bus. No one monitors the lines for the bus but I think the people were being civil and lined up accordingly. The Peru Hop bus was a double decked but the lower floor chairs reclined more. It is all first come, first served. So after getting the band, we lined up so we could get seats on the 1st floor.

And luckily! We got the very front seats on the 1st floor! Peru Hop also gives out thick blankets for the ride and I definitely needed it. After getting settled in, I tried my best to fall asleep so I could enjoy the day ahead.

[Day 10] Cusco City Tour and Cooking Class

We’ve been in Cusco since day 5 but didn’t get to explore all of the city yet! So we dedicated the morning to just wandering around town. This was also the first day I got to sleep in a little. The weather was perfect for a city tour. We decided to walk around some major parts of the town and just sightsee and shop around.

Our first stop was at the Plaza de Armas. We’ve seen it in passing so it was just nice to walk through it and take in the beautiful architecture. The two major buildings that stand out is the Cusco Cathedral and the Natural History Museum. During our visit, the City started to renovate(?) the Plaza’s central sculpture piece but the Plaza was just bustling with people.

Right next to the Museum, there was a Starbucks. One thing I like to do is to try different frapps from different country’s Starbucks. And Peru had one unique one called Lucuma frapp. I just had to try it. So we headed to Starbucks and was quite amazed at their courtyard and their view of the plaza. If you want to grab some coffee and get a nice view, I recommend this place! (Of course, you might be able to find a nice local cafe nearby too).

So Lucuma. I’m not sure if I would say I liked it but it definitely was interesting. The explanation the staff gave me was that it would be close to a butterscotch flavor? But to me, it was just a tad bit too sweet and I wasn’t sure how to distinguish the lucuma flavor 😦 If anyone else has tried this in Peru, please let me know what you thought!

After grabbing the drink and enjoying the view, we were getting a bit hungry so we headed to Plaza San Blas area to find some cafe. From the guide book, it said that the San Blas area was like the “art-sy” area and was up and coming. There was an outdoor market here as well (mostly handmade goods) but also a lot of cafes and smaller restaurants. It was definitely less crowded but you still got the beauty of Cusco.

One thing. San Blas is on the hillside so from Plaza de Armas, it is going to be an upward walk. Be prepared. (But most of Cusco is this way)

While walking around, we found a nice cafe named Pantastico and bought several empanadas and a pie maracuya to go. I’ve heard of the maracuya fruit and I wanted to try it. They packed everything neatly and we headed back to the Plaza to eat while taking in the view. The empanadas were amazing and filled our stomach but the pie was too sour. If you like sour things, try maracuya!

As I said earlier, there was a small open marketing happening here. While looking around, we found ladies who had alpacas for photos! I’m not a big fan of paying for photos, the baby alpaca just got to me. The ladies are very nice and they let you take pictures with the baby on your lap or you holding him. After several pictures and 5 sol later, we were off exploring again.

From San Blas, we started to talk towards Mirador de Plaza San Cristobal. It was a bit of a hike but the road there was full of things to see. Lots of cafes with great views, colorful drawings on the street walls, and just the view of the city from up top! 3 combo! At first, walking up the hill was so hard! I felt like it was never ending (similar to Machu Picchu) but the interesting surrounding area made the hike more enjoyable.

And Mirador! 100% recommend if you want to see Plaza de Armas from above. The view of the city here is spectacular!

You can see things that are only visible when you are up top, such as the EL PERU written on the mountain. Here is a video of the view from San Cristobal.

Once we were done walking around the city, we headed to our cooking class. It’s always fun to take local cooking classes to learn about the history of the food culture and also to learn some new recipes. You never know what you might learn.

So after some research, we decided to take a class with Peruvian Cooking Class. The classes were small but offered various types of dishes. The location was very easy to find and was about 10 minute walking distance from Plaza de Armas. The first floor of the building was the cooking station and the second floor was the waiting room/dining room area.

When you make the booking, you have the option to choose which menu you want to make. The choice of menu is decided by the person who made the first booking for that day. So if you have something you really want to make, make the reservation first! We decided on menu #2 : Pisco Sour/Chicha Morada, Palta Rellena, Lomo Saltado, and chocolate.

Once we checked in, we found out that we were the only 2 people taking the class. Score! A private class. It was awesome! They even let us change the menu a bit. So we picked Chicha Morada as our drink, Palta Rellena, Lomo Saltado, and Arroz con Leche!

With the chef of the day, Yuli, we first got to try some local fruit: Granadilla, Tumbo, Lucuma, Perito Abuel, Lima, Pacay, and Golden Berry. I hope I got all the spelling right 🙂 Granadilla was my favorite and it tasted like passionfruit but much sweeter. Tumbo was also good. It used to be used in ceviche back in the days but when the Spanish brought Lemon, it was replaced. I got a real taste of Lucuma here and it was closer to a persimmon. Perito Abuel was small and tasted like sour apple. Lima looked like a small citrus but actually it didn’t taste like a citrus. It can actually replace lemongrass. Pacay looked like cotton balls. Very furry. And Golden Berry looked like a cherry tomato but very super sour.

After tasting several fruits, we made our grocery list and walked to San Pedro Market to buy our ingredients. What we didn’t know was that the Market was CLOSED until Monday! They were doing a massive cleanup for the festival.

So we went to a smaller market behind it. It was more local and less clean but we were still able to get everything. While shopping, Yuli continued to talk to us about Peruvian food and culture. She even helped us get some Granadilla for later.

Once we had everything, we headed back to the shop and started cooking. It was so much fun. Yuli explained everything, step by step, and demonstrated just a little and we had to do most of the actual work. She showed us how to cook the meal as well as plating it just right. The Palta Rellena was a chicken and potato salad and Lomo Saltado was stir fried beef with rice (one of my favorite Peruvian dish) and Arroz con Leche was sweet rice pudding. The meal was extremely satisfying. The fact that I made the food made it even better 😉 After cooking, we took our food upstairs and got to enjoy it as dinner. It was delicious.

And satisfied, we went shopping. I wanted to get some alpaca scarves for my family members so I visited SOL ALPACA. I wanted to get them something that was more authentic and trustworthy when they claimed 100% alpaca. SOL was considered a luxury brand and everything gave it a high rating so I gave it a try. Everything here was really soft and it did not give any scratchy feeling what-so-ever. Everything was really pretty and I wanted to buy everything but I stuck to my plan and purchased different colored scarves. Next time, I want to buy more!

[Day 9] Humantay Lake

Is it really a vacation if you are waking up at 4 am every morning? A question I was asking myself on this day. Our tour guide came to pick us up at 5 am at the hostel. We walked a bit to the main street and had to meet our ride there. This time, it was a tour bus (not a van). The walk to the bus was a bit hard since we had just woken up and the steps were really steep. Again, when you are making accommodation booking, read the reviews to see if there are any mention of steps or high hills.

We took the bus for about 2 hours to Mollepata Village and purchased our tourist ticket there. It was 10 sols but ours was included in the price so we did not have to pay extra. If your tour package did not include ticket prices, the tour guide will collect them later. Make sure you talk with your tour agency to see if ticket prices are included.

After purchasing our tickets, we continued to Soraypampa. Once at the foot of the mountain, we walked to the entrance of the trail and had breakfast there. The walk was beautiful! The snow capped mountains with all the greens was just a sight to see. It was also quite chilly here. I’m not sure if it was due to the mountain air or the morning chill but make sure to layer up!

We were served breakfast before the hike but this was worst than the breakfast at Rainbow Mountain. There really wasn’t a lot to eat so if you need some energy before a hike, bring your own meal!

After breakfast, we were all on our way. There was no official guide with us so we were all on our own. If you wanted to take a horse up, you would have to ask the guide before leaving. From the start of the trail, we could see Humantay Mountain and Salkantay. There were a lot of people taking the Salkantay trail but that would have to wait for another time.

The guide said the hike would take roughly 1 hour so we hurried along. This hike was even harder than Rainbow Mountain. The road was very rocky and steep. And a lot of the rocks were loose so watch your step here. When our guide said 1 hour, it didn’t seem so bad but I was wrong. It took us 1 hour and 15 minutes to get to the top and I had to take a lot of breaks in the middle. I’m glad a lot of the hikers were encouraging each other and with everyone’s help, I made it.

And I’m so glad I hiked it because the view was 100% worth it! The mountain and the lake, a harmonious marriage. And the perfect weather made everything here extra wonderful. It was serene. There were lots of people at the top but I was still able to get some photos without anyone in them.

After taking in all the nature and all the photos, we started to walk back down. There is no horse for the downward hike because of all the loose rocks so make sure you get the timing right. The downward hike was just as hard as the upward because of how slippery the trail was. I even slipped a couple times even with hiking boots.

Once we were back at the start of the trail, they served us lunch. Lunch was better than breakfast, having things like soup, fried chicken, fried rice, pasta, and veggies. It wasn’t the best tasting food but after the hike, I needed it. We ate as much as we wanted and enjoyed the scenery before getting back on the bus. I thought it would be the same amount of time to get back to Cusco but the traffic didn’t agree with us and we arrived at 7 pm. I guess that is what you get for trying to enter the city on a Friday night.

We quickly dropped off our belong at the hostel and took an Uber to Mercado Molino. I needed a bigger bag for all the stuff and my companion needed to get a sim card. We were told that Mercado Molino would have everything and they were right! If you are thinking about doing shopping (not touristy), this place has it all! From clothing to electronics, you probably could find everything here. It was closer to what I would consider a mall. They even had a small food court at the front.

While waiting for my companion to register her sim card, I got some picarones, which are like peruvian fried donuts. They fried them as the orders came in so it was super fresh and so good. It was a great pick me up for 3 sol. Once my companion had internet, we roamed around the market. We found several stores that sold luggage and suitcases but vast majority of them did not take card. I didn’t have a lot of cash on me and the ATM machine at the market was not working. Luckily, my companion had some cash and she was also really good at bargaining so we were able to make a purchase. Mine (the purple one) went from 160 sol to 120 sol and hers from 150 sol to 100 sol. I think we did pretty good, right?

After all the shopping, we headed back to the hotel. The laundry was done and all the items were neatly folded and in a plastic bag. Our laundry at the hostel was 12 sol per kilo and I know this wasn’t cheap but I guess I was paying for the connivance. You can find laundry mats all around Cusco and the average price would be around 4~7 sol per kilo.

With the new luggage and clean clothes, I reorganized all my things. And it was so nice to see empty space in my bag for souvenirs! Next time, never take a full suitcase on a trip because you will definitely buy things.

[Day 8] Machu Picchu

Another early day. We woke up early and ate breakfast provided by the B&B. It was basic things like cereal, fruit, ham, bread, and lots of coca tea. We had to pack everything and store it at the B&B since we did not want to take everything on our hike. (Double check if your accommodation has storage!)

We headed to our tour agency’s hostel to meet with our guide but he did not show up on time. When he did show up, we had to wait even longer because a group did not show up and the guide had to make sure everyone was present. I knew waiting would mean that we will have to spend less time up at Machu Picchu so I asked if we could go ahead by ourselves. Luckily, the guide told us to go ahead and get in line. When we headed to the bus station at around 7:10am, there was already a long line. But no worries! The bus comes fairly regularly so we were on the bus in no time. The staff checked our bus tickets and stamped them.

The bus was very comfortable! It looked and felt like a new bus. And thank goodness for that since the road was rough and full of hairpin turns. The view going up was also beautiful so try to get a window seat on the right side of the bus.

Once we got off the bus, there was a huge line by the entrance. Before heading, make sure to use the bathroom (2 sol). There is also a luggage storage here if your accommodation couldn’t store your things. It was 5 sols and lots of people were using it.

The entrance did not have a clear line and a lot of groups were all trying to stay together, making it a bit of a mess. Once at the entrance, you show them the stamped ticket and they scan the barcode and you are in! We saw our guide but he disappeared again to find other tour members. We decided to just venture on our own and take in the views. And really… WHAT A VIEW!

It was just like the photos. Not a fog in sight. There were lots of greens and blues all around. A lot of people were present but I was still able to take photos without any obstacles. And we took a ton of photos. Photos everywhere. Each viewpoint gave us a different perspective of Machu Picchu.

There were several photo points at the top of the mountain and we did spend some time there to just sit and relax and to take in the view. However, our guide did mention the hike back down was going to take about 2 hours to the exit. So we slowly headed out of Machu Picchu.

Even on our way down, we stopped several times for different photos. Each corner had something unique and interesting. As we were leaving, there were still a lot of tourist coming in. I really wish we could have stayed inside Machu Picchu for longer but we had to catch the train. We only stopped for quick pictures and ended up getting back to the exit in about 1 hour and 15 minutes.

And once we were at the exit, we had 2 options: purchase a bus ticket back to Aguas Calientes or to walk down. Since we took the bus up, we decided to walk down. *Please do not walk down if you are not 100% sure you can do it. It was really tough and hard on my knees.* Walking down meant going straight through the mountain. Just by looking at the map, it didn’t seem so bad.

Boy, was I wrong. The stone staircases were not even and some of them were really steep! Also, we had to close the main road at times and you had to watch out for the buses. There were lots of people hiking up and we all encouraged each other.

It took about 1 hour and 30 minutes to get to the bottom and we celebrated! We took pictures of the signs, thinking we were done. But nope! We still had to walk back to the city which took another 30 minutes.

We did not have a lot of time so we headed back to our B&B, grabbed our luggage and looked for a place to grab lunch. A friend of mine recommended Amazonas, a Chinese Peruvian restaurant. We had their lomo saltado and chaufa and they were pretty good and relatively cheap. We ordered 2 main dishes and 1 soup and it was about 40 sol ($12 USD). Not bad for 3 people. One thing. You have to tell them you are in a hurry because they are a bit slow with their service.

Our train was at 2:30 so after lunch, we headed to the station. The snack was different going down (I liked the north bound snack more) but because of the hike, I think everyone must have been tired because one by one, people were all passing out, including myself.

Once we were back at Ollantaytambo Station, Fabian Agency had someone with a sign and we were all herded to a tour bus and we headed back to Cusco. A lot of the people on the bus were Korean, which was not surprising since Fabian Agency deals with lots of Korean. We talked about the tour and mingled and in no time, we were back in Cusco. We picked up our bags from the Agency and took the Uber to our hostel.

We had some issues with our hostel. First, our driver could not find the place because there was no sign on the door or the building. Second, when we did find it, the place was not what was described on the website. My companion told me that she would rather pay more at a different place than to stay at this location. So we ended up moving. Lucky for us, Cusco is a tourism city so every corner , every street had a hostel. We walked down the street a bit and found another hostel, Tunqui, and ended up staying here. We stayed in the double with a private bathroom and it was great. The room was spacious and hot water was available all day.

Once we settled in, we gave the front desk our laundry, and we walked to the plaza to find a place to eat dinner. I really wanted to try Pollo a la Brasa so we headed to Los Toldos Chicken. This restaurant seemed famous and was on top of the list for Pollo a la Brasa. And it was super delicious. The chicken was very juicy and had lots of flavors. Their french fries were crispy and their salad bar was decent too. I highly recommend!

[Day 7] Sacred Valley Tour

Since we were going on a 1 night, 2 day trip, we had to packed everything. I had already purchased several things and could not fit everything into my luggage. So I put them in bags, shoved in backpack, asked my companions to store things for me…. It was a mess. (Tip for next trip, bring a bigger luggage!)

Once we checked out, we called an Uber and got to Fabian Tour and left our luggage there. Fabian had a lot of tour groups that did the 2 day trip and come back to Cusco. So his office had a luggage storage space. Also, he had a lot of Korean tourist who came to his office so he had a small food mart setup. He sold Korean ramyeon and soju. If you needed something spicy for the road, you could check out his mart.

Mini Korean Mart at Fabian Tour Office

While at the office, we met up with the group. Again, I didn’t want to travel by myself so I found more solo travelers to travel with me. We had to pay extra because we had 5 people in our group. So they gave us a 3 row SUV, 2 person per row and 1 at the front. I originally was only looking for 3 more people to do the tour with to fit into 1 vehicle but they do say, more the merrier, right? Plus, the SUV was very spacious and comfortable for 5 tourist and the driver.

The 2 day trip started with the first day being the Sacred Valley Tour. They had several small stops for us to see.

1st stop: Small weaving shop to learn of natural dying process and to shop to support the tradition. The ladies at this location demonstrated the dying process and talked about which materials make what color. The natural dyes were beautiful! I didn’t realize you could get so many vibrant colors from plants and other natural ingredients. After the dying process, they also talked about the weaving process. It was very educational. However, the items were more pricy here.

Dying ingredients and colorful yarn

2nd stop: Chinchero: Before we headed into Chinchero, we bought our tour pass. This pass includes 4 tourist sites: Pisaq, Ollantaytambo, Moray, and Chinchero. The cost was 70 sol. Since we were planning on going to 3 of these sites, the pass was the way to go. There was a student option but not for the cheaper pass. Or at least when one of our companion tried, they only gave her the option for the more extensive (and expensive) pass. Maybe it is only for locals?

My tour site pass

After purchasing the pass, we walked for 5 minutes up steps and found an open market on the ruins. They were selling all kinds of souvenirs from handmade bracelets to musical instruments. And the vendors were willing to negotiate so you need to work on your haggling skills.

The ruins were located on top of a hill so it had a good view of the valley. While we were here, we saw the building that was on the pass, and also the step ruins on the side. It was a lot bigger than I expected. The stone walls were impressive! I don’t know how they made them all fit so perfectly. We were only given 30 minutes here so we had to quickly look around and get back to the van.

Once again, we were back on the road to our 3rd stop: Salineras de Maras. Salt Flats. This was the main event and since it was not included in the pass, we paid 10 sol extra. I can honestly say this was the best place out of all the places we visited today. We were given 40 minutes to tour the place but wasn’t nearly enough time. If you are on a tour, negotiate with your driver to see if you can stay here longer.

Once inside, we took some pictures by the salt beds. The pools were all different sizes and different colors; all on plateaus, featuring a good view. I tried the running water and it was really salty (also don’t do this because because it’s not very clean, according to the guide. He told me after I did it). We didn’t get to explore all of the flats due to time and just saw what they had at the entrance. Once we turned around and started to head out, we stopped by the stands here that sold salt goods like bath salts, salt chocolate, and more. They even had a musician playing a traditional instrument. We looked around for a bit and purchased a salt chocolate. I mean, chocolate and salt is a thing, right? But it was way too salty! How can you mess up chocolate?

A musician playing a traditional flute

Afterward, we had lunch. Our driver took us to a restaurant on the way to our next stop. Inka Sal was the name and it had variety of foods, mostly Peruvian. They also had sandwiches and spaghetti and such. I got Chicharron de pollo (fried chicken) with yuka fries and papaya juice. The food was good but the juice was lukewarm! If you want it cold, you have to let them know beforehand. The sodas were fresh out of the fridge so they were cold but I’m guessing the fruit wasn’t. The spaghetti was a bit salty so ask for less salt!

Chicharron de pollo

Once we filled out belly, it was time for our 4th stop: Morray. Not sure what the purpose of this was but many believe it was a testing place for agriculture. A tour group passed us while we were talking photos so I got a 2 second spiel on the ruins. We had about 25 minutes to walk around. From the picture, you cannot tell how enormous this place is but it was unbelievable. And it wasn’t just one, which made this even more impressive. Tourist are not allowed to go into the ruins so you have to view it from the top and even then, it is impressive.

Morray

After a quick lookaround, we had to continue. 5th stop? I wouldn’t call this a stop but a passby. We passed by Urubamba, a small town. The road from Morray to Urubamba was crazy! It had a lot of hairpin turns, 1 car only roads, unpaved roads. Even our car engine stopped once on the road. It was quite scary and caused several of us in the car to get motion sickness.

And once we were back on the paved road, we headed to our last stop. Ollantaytambo. We had 45 minutes to see the ruins here. We had a bit of a scare here when one of our companion said that she might have lost her pass. If you lost it, that is it for the pass since they don’t keep a record of it. It took her a minute but luckily, she found her pass and we were in. A stone fortress with large stone terraces. The city was surrounded by mountains and it provided a good cover. On the other side, there were also carving of sort that probably was for protecting the city. Again, the walls were way too high for us and not enough time. We only climbed 1/3 of the way and had to make our way down to meet with the driver again.

Once we met with our driver, we headed to the train station. The road to the station was jam packed so we decided to get off early and walk to the station. The reason why it was so packed was because there was a train that just arrived and many were waiting taxis.

Train Station at Ollantaytambo

We waited for our train to be called. We were on the Voyager through the Inca Rail. The other option is with PeruRail. People were starting to line up by their train car letters. We were going to Aguas Calientes, a city at the entrance to Machu Picchu. The view on the way was beautiful. The windows were large and offered a great view of the mountains and the river. While on the train, we were offered a free drink, a cookie, and chocolate for the ride. Both side of the train had a good view of the mountains but if you want the river view, sit on the left side.

FREE train snack

At Aguas Calientes, we met with Fabian’s tour guide but walked separately to our hotel. We booked a separate accommodation from the tour because of the reviews they had. Also, do not book accommodation without reading the reviews. Just looking at the google map, you will not know what you are getting into. Aguas Calientes is all hills (a bit steep) and you might end up booking a place that is way up the hill. We stayed at a place called Perupunta B & B and it was half way up the hill, much higher than the place our tour was staying at.

The B&B seemed rather new. There were a lot of building being built and renovated when we were there. It was also on the main street, surrounded by restaurants and other shops. Right after we checked in, we ventured around the shopping district and checked out what they had. Even though this was a small town, they had everything, even a bookshop. I ended up exchanging some more money here at a slightly higher rate but not by much. However, if you do want to save money, exchanged at Cusco for a better deal. Once we got back to our B&B, we grabbed some local ice cream from the shop next door. They had popular flavors like chocolate and vanilla but also had original flavors like Andes Mint and Chicha Morada. I wanted something local so I tried the Andes Mint and it was so good!! It wasn’t super sweet and the mint was very refreshing.

We did not want to stay up too late since we knew we had a full day ahead. We were all very excited for Machu Picchu and we wanted to be in our best condition so we headed to bed, dreaming about what’s next.