Cusco and Machu Picchu

Written by Nadine Zangerle on . Posted in Peru

Arriving early morning the four of us jumped into the taxi and drove to our hostel. We had a reservation and hoped to check-in in the morning. At 8:30 am we finally got the room and after a breakfast Michael and I explored the city.

From the first moment we were impressed about the beautiful historic part of Cusco. The dark stones and the massive churches were just beautiful. We were happy to stay for three nights in Cusco to explore and enjoy this nice place.

The people are friendly and sure, a bit pushy, but you will find this in a lot of places. We were so used to it that it didn´t bother us. Go to Bali and then you know what is pushy!

At the hostel we got a good deal for our Machu Picchu trip and after two nights James, Lucy, Michael and I jumped into the Microbus towards those famous ruins. The trip to Aguas Calientes was windy and took a long time. 

But when we finally made it to the Hydroelectrica, we jumped out and were ready for the two hours hike along the train tracks. Hundreds of tourists seemed to be a bit disoriented when finally some guides appeared and told them, that we meet at the main square in Aguas Calientes. Arriving a bit sweaty at the main plaza in Aguas Calientes, we waited for our guide. 

The hostel room was a bit damp but we had an own bathroom. We got up very early - at 4am - to walk up to Machu Picchu. The 1 1/2 hours up the steep and uneven steps where painful and totally soaked we arrived at the ruins.

After a good introduction from our guide we had plenty of time to explore another wonder of the world. Another hour and plenty of steps we fight up the mountain to get a glimpse of the ruins from atop. 

The morning was foggy but we were lucky, it opened up a couple of times to see Machu Picchu. It was breath-taking. With wobbly legs we came down to the ruins and the mass of people had left luckily. Roaming around the ruins we enjoyed this place and decided to take the bus down. Our legs felt a bit like pudding.

For sure in the evening we treated ourselves with the hot springs and felt the muscle relaxation. You can imagine that we had a deep sleep, actually in another hostel. Since they needed our room they moved us in a way nicer hostel. We didn´t complain.

The next morning we walked around the touristy Aguas Calientes before we walked two hours back to the Hydroelectrica. Arriving before 2pm - that´s what our guide told us several times - we had to wait actually another hour before they started sorting out the microbuses. Our names were the last to show up on a list so we jumped in and off we went.

The bus driver was a bit strange and picked up two girls in Santa Martha. After he realized that they had the wrong ticket he kicked them out in the middle of the road. We protested but it didn´t do any good. Than he asked me to move over to this kid’s seat but I refused to sit only sideways for 8 hours.

Finally arriving in Cusco we checked in our room and after a burger at McDonalds we slept like babies. The next day we strolled around the city a bit and explored the Santo Domingo. In this monastery you can still find the old walls of the Sun Temple, one of the most important Inca Temples in this area. In the evening it was time to pack up again and continue to Arequipa.

Accommodation: VIP Hostal, Cusco

Price: PEN $ 30 p. p, 4 bed dorm with bathroom, incl. breakfast

Comment: super friendly staff, great agency for trips and fair prices


Accommodation: Hostal y Restaurante Choquequirao, Calle Collasuyo, Aguas Calientes (Tour Operator & Owner: Mario A. Jara Castro)

Price: incl. in trip, 4 bed dorm with bathroom, incl. breakfast

Comment: room was very moldy but we got a nice room in a nearby hostel the second night.

Tour VIP Peru Travel (via VIP Hostal in Cusco): $ 130 p.p. to Machu Picchu incl. transport to Hydroelectric, two nights in bed dorm, two breakfast, one lunch, one dinner, entrance to Machu Picchu with the Montana


Puno and Islas Flotantes

Written by Nadine Zangerle on . Posted in Peru

In the bus a Peruvian spoke to me about good prices for hostels and trips and since we were six people I could bargain a good deal. We just felt a bit insecure when he wanted to bring us to the hostel personally and sell us the trip.

Nothing against the trip since the prices were reasonable but we have heard so many stories about faked taxis driving you to a remote place to rob you. So after stamping and setting foot in the next country we tried to sneak away from Max.

I felt a bit bad since the hostel he made a reservation for us confirmed with Max and we suddenly realized that he wasn’t a bad guy. But better safe than sorry. This is unfortunately in those countries here after all those scams.

We found a cheap place to eat and since we had to get up early for our day trip we went to bed early. The next morning our tour guide picked us up and with two taxis we drove down to the dock. With around 40 people we jumped on board of a slow motion boat and made our way out to the Islas Flotantes of the Uros people. 

In the Lake Titicaca there are still 100 floating island made of layers of reeds that grow in the lake. We stopped on a small island with 20 members, where actually 5 Uros greeted us. The demonstration of how they build the islands, houses and theirs boats was fascinating. The woman are very skilled in handicrafts and for sure we bought a little something after we had a 20 minute boat ride on their so called “Mercedes Benz” of their reed boats.  

Interesting to hear about the Incas and their relationship to the Japanese culture and language. Titicaca means “Rock of the Puma” in Japanese ‘Chichi-haha’ it means ‘Dad and Mom’. Our guide explained us that a lot of nouns and especially the pronunciation in Quechua is very similar than Japanese. Interesting idea.

After the floating islands we continued to the big Isla Tequile where the people wore actually the very traditional clothes of the Catalan area of Spain. Here we walked around the Plaza and the Artisan Market where men knit heads, gloves and belts. The married man wore a red hat whereas the single man wore a red-white hat. Very easy to check out the situation.

We all had lunch and afterwards walked down to the boat. The boat was amazingly slow and we arrived at 6pm in Puno. Still time left we all went out for dinner and found a great Pizza place. Our night bus was leaving at 10pm going to Cusco.

Accommodation: Hostal El Lago (Tumi 2), Jr. Cajamarca 237, Puno

Price: PEN $ 20 p. p, private room with bathroom

Comment: right in the center, we got a good deal. Breakfast is PEN 7.  Friendly and helpful staff.


Lake Titicaca - Isla del Sol

Written by Nadine Zangerle on . Posted in Bolivia

Copacabana was small and touristy but in a nice way. We run into Mario, a Suisse actor, and from the very first moment we already felt connected. We decided to go to the island together, so we waited for the 1:30pm boat. Two French girls we had met in La Paz run into us and told us about this great hostel on the island.

Since we wanted to do some trekking we decided to leave our big backs behind and take only small bags. We brought them to a hostel at the bus station and paid around Euro 1 for two nights. Let´s hope they will be still there since we didn´t receive a receipt. 40 kg lighter we jumped on the boat to the Islas des Sol. 

In the north at Ch’allapampa we got off the boat and hiked to the described destination. Constantly looking for a hostel at the beach with a metal fence which had a sun in the center we passed a little village full with donkeys and sheep. 

When we found the cozy place from Victoria and Francesco we immediately were enchanted. A French couple we have met on the boat followed us to this beach and we enjoyed a great dinner together with wine and the legendary trout.

The next day we did a day hike up to the northern ruins. The Isla del Sol (Island of the Sun) is the Inca creation site and the birthplace of the sun in the Inca mythology. The walking tracks where easily marked but the sun and the altitude are not to be underestimated.

Happily having another dinner with trout we enjoyed the quiet place and watched the stars the following night. After breakfast the following morning we said goodbye to Mario, whom we felt like we would know him already for a long time, and continued our walk south to catch the boat.

Back in Copacabana we ran into James and Lucie, whom we have met on our Uyuni Salt Flat trip and some guys from the Death Road in La Paz. Together we decided to drive to Puna, Peru to see the Islas Flotantes (Floating Islands). Let´s cross the boarder!

Accommodation: Hostal Challa, Playa del Inca

Price: BOB $ 40 p. p, private room with bathroom

Comment: at the beach in the north of the island. Super friendly Victoria and Francesco cook fantastic trout. This is where you can relax