$$$ KPO and CZM $$$: RTW to Peru - Cusco

Saturday, February 22, 2020

RTW to Peru - Cusco

In my previous post (RTW to Mexico - Tulum), I mentioned about our Mexico adventure. Today, we are heading to a place with one of the highest altitudes in the world - Cusco, Peru. In fact, the Cusco airport stands at nearly 3,300m and is said to be the top 20 highest airports in the world. To put things in perspective, the peak of Mount Everest has an altitude of 8,848m and Cusco is already more than a third of that.  Singapore has an altitude of 15m *facepalm*

To prevent altitude sickness from kicking in, we obtained a doctor's prescription and went to a pharmacy for altitude medicine prior to our trip. The pharmacist advised that altitude sickness usually kick in at 2,500 - 2,800m altitude. Hence, people going to places higher than that should start consuming the medicine 24 - 48hrs in advance prior to touching down. The side effect is diuretic, meaning it will cause you to want to pee more often. Oh well, still better than the symptoms of altitude sickness.

Anyway, we started taking the medicine the night before our flight to Peru. As there is no direct flight (Star Alliance) from Merida to Cusco, we had to layover at Houston first, then Lima. Lima is probably one of the more cui airports. When we touched down there at 10pm, it took almost two hours to clear the customs as there were simply too many people and too few counters. Once we crossed the customs, we see many tourists sleeping/sitting on the floors as the chairs were all occupied. Fortunately, KPO had priority pass so we managed to visit the lounge there to catch on some sleep before our next flight to Cusco at 5am. Oh yes, we also visited a sim card booth from Claro there which quoted us USD 59 for one week worth of unlimited data. And there wasn't any other plan available apart from that. Siao. So we decided to look for a sim card only when we reached Cusco.

It was a rather short flight and we touched down at Cusco at approximately 7am. As we stepped out of the plane, both of us were mentally prepared for the altitude sickness to kick in immediately such as experiencing throbbing headache. To our surprise, nothing happened! We had pre-ordered a taxi (emailed Felipe from Cusco Taxi) to fetch us from the airport to our hotel for US$8. The taxi was punctual and in fact, waited for us for some time as we needed to sort out some administrative stuff inside the airport first. 

We booked our accommodation at Hilton Garden Inn Cusco and were really glad we got that as most of the buildings appear to be pretty rundown. KPO managed to do the (BRG) best rate guarantee trick and managed to get it at a really good price of SGD 84 per night. And because we stayed for 4 nights, he can become a Gold Member through the Hilton Honors Visa Fast Track to Gold promotion (no longer available).

The moment we stepped into the hotel, we were offered coca tea by the staff, which we understand is the local way of overcoming altitude sickness. The taste is rather unique but not bad. I like it. Unfortunately, I don't think we're allowed to bring back to Singapore as it is only legal in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. This is because coca leaves contain alkaloids which are used to produce cocaine and can result in a positive drug test for cocaine >.<

Once we were done checking in, we decided to explore the town centre, which is located close to the hotel. We ate at this restaurant - Limo which serves Peru-Jap fusion cuisine with a view of the Plaza de Armas. It was by far the best food we have eaten on this trip! We ordered the chef recommended Trucha Yakimono which is basically fried salmon steak drizzled with their local sauce. The taste is very unique and almost felt like there's coca leaf taste in it too. We also ordered the local Peruvian sashimi Tiradito, Chizu Maki and ended off with their chocolate cake dessert. They are all fabulous. 
Inside the restaurant

Trucha Yakimono - grilled trout covered with some sauce

Japanese Tiradito - salmon and tuna with crispy fish skin 

Chizu Maki - crunchy prawn, avocado, flamed cream cheese and some sauce

Peruvian Cacao - Chocolate and coffee dessert

We also visited the Plaza De Armas, Cusco Cathedral and Qorikancha museum. All of them located in downtown and within walking distance. In fact, we managed to cover all of them by about 3pm and returned back to the hotel rather early to catch up on some sleep. 

Plaza De Armas

Cusco Cathedral

Since we went back to the hotel pretty early, we decided to head to the restaurant to claim our welcome drinks which is a choice of either their local cocktail - Pisco Sour or lemonade.

It somehow became a proper meal/dinner when the waiter started recommending more local food such as chicharron (fried/crispy pork), alpaca meat (low/no cholesterol) and baked guinea pig. The food KPO wants to eat is almost as risky as his investment style and we ended up ordering alpaca meat.

I did not really like it due to its unique flavor (similar yet somewhat different from mutton) and the thought of how cute they are. KPO finds them alright but not fascinating, definitely not ordering it again...

Will be visiting Sacred Valley, Pisac market and Ollantaytambo ruins tomorrow. Update you guys soon!

Our Google Timeline

You might be interested in these articles too:
Our KrisFlyer Star Alliance Round The World (RTW) Trip Planning/Booking
RTW to Mexico - Chichen Itza
RTW to Mexico - Coba Ruins
RTW to Mexico - Isla Mujeres
RTW to Mexico - Tulum
- RTW to Peru - Cusco

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