After an 8 hour flight from LAX, a midnight to 5am layover (attempting to sleep) at the Lima airport, and a short plane ride later, I arrived bright and 6am-early in Cusco. This southeastern Peruvian city is near the Urubamba Valley of the Andes mountain range, making for some beautiful scenery so far (from what I could tell during my 10 minute taxi ride), and of course some slight altitude sickness.
It’s the closest airport city that accesses the famed 15th century Inca World Heritage site, Machu Picchu - the #1 tourist attraction in the country. Tourists usually reach the historical site one of two ways: hike to it via the Inca trail (with guided routes ranging from 2-4 days) or take a train (ranging from budget to luxury accommodations).
I’ve opted to take the approximate 4-hour train ride to and from Aguas Calientas (the small town at the foot of the valley next to Machu Picchu). Don’t’ judge my shortcut choice or think I’m being a sissy bit*h, I’m a solo traveler and on a time crunch. Hiring a private trail guide was over $700 for the shorter Inca trail options and I didn’t really want to try and crash anyone else’s group trip, so train for me it will be.
But I don’t depart for MP until Sunday morning, I’ve heard and read too many good things about the city of Cusco to one night stand her. So I’ll be spending a couple days exploring, shopping, eating, and Instagraming my way through this city first. For my first Peruvian experience I downed a traditional cup of Coca tea upon check-in. I’m told it helps with altitude sickness, which didn’t take long for me to feel at this city’s approximate 11,000 ft elevation.
I’m staying at a place called Ninos Hotel y Hacienda for a total of 4 nights, with two days allocated for Aguas Calientes and Machu Picchu in the middle. I wanted something small and quaint for my time in Cusco, and of course affordable on my solo traveler budget. Thanks to trusty Tripadvisor I stumbled upon Ninos Hotel after looking at about 20 different hostels and at least a dozen hotels (I couldn’t believe how pricey some were)! It fit the bill of the look and feel I was hoping for, within a reasonable budget for a private room and bedroom (I have trouble sleeping so I always opt for my own room when possible).
And if it’s charm wasn’t enough, the story behind it sealed the deal…All proceeds from Ninos Hotels and Hacienda, including their restaurants, go to the Ninos Unidos Peruanos Foundation – a program that helps provide 2 healthy meals a day, educational assistance, and social skills to over 600 local children. Each day at 5pm hotel and hacienda guests, whose financial support helps to make the program possible, have to option to go see the foundation’s work first hand.
It’s a beautiful place to stay with a beautiful purpose behind it. I am happy to spend my hard earned travel funds here and any place like it <3