Michael Nyberg is one of Latin America For Less’ newest travel advisors. Michael’s love for Peru began years ago when he came to volunteer and teach English in 2009. He has since managed to travel all across this beautiful country, so I was expecting a definitive answer when I asked him to name his favorite travel destination.
Michael paused for a second before saying “its incredibly hard to choose but nothing was better than the 4 days I spent in Cusco.” As soon as he starts to describe his trip to Cusco, his eyes begin to light up and all the wonderful memories come rushing back.
Cusco, the ancient Inca capital is said to have been founded by AD 1100, and since then has developed into a major commercial and especially tourism center with around 300,000 inhabitants. The colonial churches, monasteries and convents and extensive pre-Columbian ruins are all intertwined with “countless hotels, bars/clubs and restaurants.”
“What do you most remember about the trip?”, I asked.
“How fast those four days went by, there are just so many things to do in Cusco that time flies when you’re there”, he replied.
Michael traveled with a group of friends not exactly knowing what to expect. He had of course heard all about the wonders of Cusco, Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley, but he couldn’t believe that his time had finally come.
Upon arriving to Cusco, they first set out to walk to the main square where the famous Cathedral lies. “There are so many people in the square, mostly tourists and foreigners.” He recalled how incredibly friendly everyone was and the amazing street food that was available all throughout the city. The biggest compliment to the food is perhaps the fact that Michael couldn’t name a favourite dish, since they were “all so good.”
Michael was quick to reiterate the advice that is recommended to all travelers, rest a few days in Cusco prior to partaking on any trips/excursions. Especially for travelers doing the Inca Trail or the Salkantay Trek, those days will help your body be better acclimatized for the long but incredibly rewarding journey which lies ahead.
After spending the first night in Cusco, Michael and his five friends commenced their journey by taking a car ride to the famous Ollantaytambo ruins. These famous ruins served as a stronghold for Manco Inca Yupangu while resisting the oncoming Spanish forces. The town was the royal estate for Emperor Pachacuti who conquered the region, built the town and a ceremonial center.
Michael remembers Ollantaytambo very fondly for as he describes it, “I was in a place where centuries before a civilization was fighting for its survival. It doesn’t get much bigger than that” After an incredible day at the ruins, Michael and his friends finally embarked on the afternoon train to Aguas Calientes.
After spending the night in Aguas Calientes, a small town at the bottom of the valley and the principal access point to Machu Picchu, Michael recalls never being so excited to wake up at 7am for their Huayna Picchu hike.
The Huayna Picchu hike was “challenging but definitely manageable,” he recalls. The beautiful scenery only serves to motivate travelers to climb the mountain which rises over Machu Picchu. Huayna Picchu was used by the Incas as a trail where temples and terraces were built, for strategic purposes. The top of the mountain is 8,920 ft above sea level and has become the trademark location for travelers to take their Machu Picchu pictures.
Finally, it was time to explore what Michael came for: Machu Picchu. The city of the Incas, it’s safe to say, took his breath away. The history behind this World Wonder is something “everyone needs to experience at least once in their lives, probably more than that.” The restoration process of this historical attraction has been “ nothing short of spectacular” and this can be seen with the polished dry stone walls which adorn the city. Before he even realized it, it was time to take the train back to Cusco.
His trip, as Michael fittingly put it, just flew by.
Planning a Peru vacation? Michael Nyberg and an entire team of adventure-loving Travel Advisors at Peru For Less can help you plan your own trip of a lifetime.