After a short flight from Arequipa we arrived in the wonderful city of Cuzco. Straight away I liked this place as it has a real vibrancy that you notice as soon as you step off the plane. The narrow cobblestoned lanes give the city an authentic colonial feel and the red brick roofs of the buildings make for a spectacular sight from above.

The main square (Plaza de Armas) features the spectacular cathedral which took 100 years to build using blocks of stone from the inca fort Saqsaywaman.

Also around the Plaza are many alpaca wool stores, restaurants and bars – we spent two nights dancing up a storm at a bar called Mythology – very good fun. Although, you have to careful when walking through the Plaza at night because there are representatives from every bar trying to get you to go there and they can get quite aggressive.

We checked out the local market where you could buy anything from fake alpaca scarves to frog smoothies! I picked up a very stylish beenie, which you’ll see later in the photos I’m sure, and I also purchased a real alpaca cardigan from one of the shops on the plaza.

One of the boys on the tour was the victim of an attempted pick pocketing however he caught the fellow before he could take anything.

From Cuzco we headed to the Sacred Valley where we visited the Ccaccaccollo community. G.A.P Adventures supports this small community by allowing tour groups to visit and purchase textiles from the women who make them. We were shown how wool from alpacas, sheep and llamas are used to make beautiful blankets, scarves and hats. I decided to buy a blanket, which will likely be used as a table runner, that features representations of the Inca trail. Gap also supports the community by employing men as porters on the Inca trail.

Afterwards we headed to Saqsaywaman (said like sexy woman) and Pisac, two inca ruins that gave us a taste of what was to come on the inca trail and at Machu Picchu.

That afternoon we ended up in Ollantaytambo which is a beautiful inca city featuring tiered terraces that reach all the way up the mountainside and overlooks the cobblestoned town below. It was amazing to hear about how the huge stones were quarried on a mountainside nearby and then transported all the way over to Ollantaytambo. The rocks have been sculptured so perfectly they fit seamlessly together and some have even been carved to fit around corners of the buildings.

In the evening we stocked up on supplies for our treks (some of us were doing the Inca trail while other were doing the Lares trek) and were briefed by our respective tour guides before heading to bed all ready for a huge few days ahead.