Our last night in Lima was spent celebrating Independence Day at the hostel and at a local club. Everyone wore red and white outfits to match the flag, and there was a special 2 for 1 deal on the Pisco, which Marc took full advantage of. I stuck to the local beer Cuzquenya, which is only about £1 a bottle here.
In the morning, our main goal was to get to the airport to catch our flight to Cusco. The highlight of our time in the airport was an earthquake striking while we were having lunch. Marc was walking the food over to a table I was saving, and the whole place started shaking and people were glancing nervously at each other. It all stopped very quickly though, and I guess that’s what happens when you live on the Pacific ring of fire. Lima has been flattened by earthquakes in the past, and we also have Santiago to look forward to, where the strongest earthquake in history was recorded.
The flight itself was only 55 minutes long, and the scenery was the most impressive aspect. I tactically took a window seat, and had a full view of us breaking through the perpetual Liman cloud cover, and then approaching the Andes in the distance. We then flew over the Andes, which are dotted with small villages and zigzag roads. Cusco itself is in a valley, with the runway lying in the centre, making for some great views on the approach.
On arrival, the most noteworthy aspect was that we were both at the highest point on land we have ever been, since Cusco is at 3,400m. To put that in comparison, most Alpine ski resorts are at around 2,000m, and the highest point I reached on my USA road trip was 3,000m in Bryce Canyon. We had been warned extensively about the threat of altitude sickness, but I am pleased to report we are both feeling ok at the moment (no nausea or passing out), with just a little bit of light-headedness after carrying our rucksacks through the hostel. It does feel a bit strange generally though – we find ourselves breathing faster than usual, and if we exert ourselves, it takes a lot longer to catch our breath.
The rest of the afternoon was spent at the hostel relaxing while we acclimatise. This is necessary so our bodies adjust and we are able to go hiking around Machu Picchu. Relaxing is quite easy here, since they have a bar equipped with a table tennis table (I beat Marc and a Frenchman), and a pool table. We also ran into an Israeli we had befriended in Lima – turns out he ended up at the same hostel!
Tonight we are staying in the hostel bar, and tomorrow we are going to plan our trip to Machu Picchu on Tuesday.
Photos of the day: The Andes appearing out of the clouds, the view from our hostel room in Cusco, and a lonely looking Marc in our room.