Those travel advertising dweebs have got a lot to answer for – out of all the beautifully Photoshopped pictures of snow-capped mountains, charity hill treks and celebratory Machu Picchu poses, the unglamorous reality of altitude sickness doesn’t get a look-in.
Perhaps the sight of a grumpy tourist clutching their head and begging for a darkened room isn’t much of an incentive for potential customers, but it’s something mountain visitors need to be warned about, much like yodelling or the onslaught of posh children mowing down first-time skiers for kicks.
We’d already stayed in Puno, seen the male knitters of Taquile Island, and had our introduction to the crafty building skills of the Incas; now it was time for the final push to Machu Picchu on our Majestic Peru tour (if you need a quick recap, click back to Part 1 and Part 2).
Day 11 – Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes
Whilst we didn’t have time to trek up to the higher narrow terraces in the mountains, we got to visit the lower ones, just a short walk away from the town centre in the Archaeological Park. I then popped into the Museo de Chocolate (Chocolate Museum) to refuel, before watching some colourful street processions. Lunch was at the Hearts Cafe, a local business and charity supporting women in highland communities facing issues like nutritional problems or domestic violence.
The mid-point of this trip was all about the altitude and the brilliant views that came along with it. As with the previous days, we veered between exploring urban streets and quiet backwaters, topped off by some time on the water. Here’s the abbreviated version of what we got up to (and for Part 1, click here).
Day 6 – Arequipa to Puno
It felt as though we left Arequipa and the Hotel Asturias a little too soon, and I would have liked to spend more time getting to know the city. However, we were back on the road again and heading for Puno, on the shores of Lake Titicaca – this time a six hour journey. With frequent stops for coca tea and vicuña spotting, we eased ourselves into the higher altitude, albeit nursing headaches, nausea and dizziness between us.
Calavera (Span. feminine noun) = skull. A travel blog with a love of culture, dark tourism and the unconventional.