Salkantay Trek diary – Part 2: Acclimatization in Cusco
This is the second part of my diary series about my trekking trip when I was walking the Salkantay Trek from Cusco to Machu Picchu. Click here to jump to the first part of the diary, folks. This part it about the second day in Cusco we spent to acclimatize ourselves for the trek. As I wrote in the travel guide about the Salkantay Trek, it is advisable to stay at least two days in Cusco to acclimatize a bit before you start with your trek. Of course, this applies to all trekking activities in the mountains with altitudes higher than 3000 m (9800 ft), not only to Salkantay Trek. But now, let’s continue with the diary.
It’s 6 a.m. Thanks to the jet lag we are already awake and starting to prepare ourselves for this day. As we are spending this day in Cusco for acclimatization, we are planning to go to Plaza de Armas after the breakfast and check out, what’s going on there. Yesterday we were just too tired for extended explorations.
The adventure in the hotel’s dining room
Sometimes, the life gives you situations reminding of small adventures, before the actual adventure begins… Before we are going to go to Plaza de Armas, we’d like to take some breakfast. But by entering the dining room of the hotel we get a view of a real meagre breakfast buffet we ever had seen, honestly. We spot there some toast bread slices which are already toasted. Checking the degree of hardness, they must have been toasted at least an hour ago. I try a bit, and as I am chomping into one slice, it feels like porous sandstone. I need to laugh: Why did they do this?
Luckily, there are some rolls in a shape of a small flat breads which are looking pretty promising. Testing it, I see that they also are lying a bit longer in the bread basket and are a bit too hard. But okay, let’s go with those. But wait a second; after trying on of them I notice they are slightly sweetened. What the heck…
This “bakery ensemble” is rounded off by some boiled ham, sheep’s milk cheese, butter and totally oversweetened marmalade. The jam has a red color, so I suggest, it must be strawberry marmalade but I cannot identify the flavour because of too much sugar in it.
On the counter at the left side, there are some cereals, strawberry yoghurt, milk, some fruits in a fruit-dish and two kinds of juices. The first juice has a deep orange color and is quite thick. One sip from my glass tells me, it must be papaya juice which doesn’t taste for me at all.
(Spoiler: When we returned from Salkantay Trek, we noticed that this juice is popular with the local people. Who would have thought it?)
Again, lessons learned. Next time don’t be cheap and pay a bit more for a hotel. In self-defense I have to say that as we booked this hotel, our intention was to book a cheap one because the most time we would spend walking the Salkantay Trek. But it turned out we booked too cheap…
After we took some sips of the other juice which was cheap orange juice (which tasted like chemical yellow something) and ate some pure sheep’s milk cheese, we leave the dining room and heading to Plaza de Armas.
The rest of the day in Cusco
We are spending the rest of the day exploring the centre of Cusco and adjacent blocks which took us the whole morning and afternoon. While we are walking through the streets of Cusco, we are discovering here and there smaller and bigger markets in the courtyards you would never imagine there is something at all! It’s like the previous day with the dilapidated buildings on the way from the airport. We couldn’t imagine, those buildings were on use but it turned out they were alive! Besides of the markets we are noticing some intersting buildings and historical places we would like to visit after the trek.
The vendors at the markets were a bit annoying. They were babbling all the time as soon as we entered a store or a market. Sure, they knew that as tourists we could have money and who could blame them? But we weren’t interested in buying anything because of the upcoming Machu Picchu hike.
What we also noticed is that in Cusco there are several younger men walking around Plaza de Armas and other areas with touristic traffic offering self-made paintings. Some of them are a bit pushy and follow us in hope to sell a picture. Also, at Plaza de Armas, there are several shoeblacks offering their service. For us from the western culture a new or, unfamiliar, experience. At least in Europe, I’ve never seen a shoeblack in life.
That’s why I love to travel. You see so much new things and get a lot of unexpected experiences…
About 5 p.m. we were back at the hotel and packed our belongings for the Salkantay Trek next day. At the travel agency they told us, we would be picked up very early, about 4 a.m. And because of the jet lag we were tired anyway. That’s why we got sleep about 6 p.m. (in Europe it was about 12 p.m.).
Click her to read the third part which is about the first trekking day.
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