Not having any type of agenda for the day, we woke up early and made our way to San Pedro Market. Can you believe we were there so early that all the stands were not open yet? That was very unlike us, but I enjoyed that we had a full day to explore these markets and museums. While Pisac Market was also a place I hoped to visit, we were unable to go on one of the main days (Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday) due to our flight delay and Inca trail trek schedule. Strolling through the market and browsing for gifts to buy was a nice way to start our day. Most people were in the very back of the market at the food stands, filling their bellies with hot soup before the start of the day. Just missing the rush of the early morning race to work, the town had a calming presence.
We took it easy and explored the area until it was time to check-in at our hotel for the evening. It took us quite some time, as we got lost and were feeling very tired because of the altitude. Walking up steps really wore us out. I found myself stopping after every three, not to mention we carried our heavy luggage through Cusco’s busiest parts of town. We changed over from a hostel to a hotel knowing that a quiet place off the beaten path would help us rest up for our upcoming 4-day Inca Trail trek. Once settled in to our new hotel, we made our way just a block up the street to Pachapapa for lunch. It was nice sitting in their outdoor seating and sharing a few appetizers and cured alpaca pizza – it was delicious.
Once we were full and recharged, it was time to see more of the sites. Qorikancha, the most important temple during the Inca Empire, was top on our list to see and it did not disappoint. Incan ruins formed the base of this colonial church and the courtyard was once covered in gold. In all parts of Cusco we could see only Incan remains, as most was destroyed by the colonials. After our self-guided tour of Qorikancha, we spent some more time the Plaza de Armas at a cafe eating cookies and drinking coca tea to help cope with the altitude.
Our tour group required us to go to an information meeting to meet our guide and collect the duffel bags to pack our things in that the porters would carry. Here it finally hit me that we would actually be hiking the Inca Trail. Our guide reviewed our day by day plan, and I was not immediately thrilled by the 4:45am departure time from Cusco. Nonetheless, we stayed up packing everything perfectly that evening and going over our checklists multiple times. The next day would be the start of an adventure I never could have expected.