Cusco, Peru

4 Days in Peru (With a Kid): Day Two – Cusco

Day One: Lima

Off to Cusco

We were up early to catch a 9:25 am flight to Cusco. (A side note here is that we were able to get cheaper flights by going through the Spanish version of the airline’s website). This flight was only an hour and our little traveler did well – even made a friend. Our taxi was waiting when we arrived and we were off to the Picoaga Hotel (now the Hotel Costa Del Sol Ramada Cusco).

The Picoaga was previously a colonial house complete with a beautiful courtyard and a central fountain. We were greeted with Coca Tea which is supposed to help with the altitude sickness. Cusco is 11,000 feet above sea level and you can definitely feel it.

Cusco Peru Hotel Costa Del Sol Ramada Cusco

The location of the Picoaga is ideal. It is just off a small plaza and only a block past that is the large main square – the Plaza de Armas (or Mayor del Cusco). We rested for a bit and then our driver and guide came to pick us up (we used David Mayhuire Ramos).

I cannot emphasize this tip more than any for a whirlwind trip: the best use of your time and money on a short trip is to hire an experienced guide.

Plaza de Armas Cusco, Peru
Catedral de Cuzco on the left and Iglesia de la Compania de Jesus on the right.

They drove us around to get a nice “lay of the land.” Cusco is a very charming colonial city. The cobblestone streets reminded us very heavily of its European influencers. It is a large city with over 300,000 people but still feels very intimate.

Street Llama
Yeah, that kid is in downtown Cusco just leaning on his llama.


David took us to see four Incan ruins that are fairly close to each other. The first was Saqsaywaman. One fascinating point of interest is that the complex was built by interlocking large stones. No mortar insight.

Saqsaywaman is located on a hill overlooking Cusco. The view is truly expansive and worth taking many pictures. It is beyond a great photo op.

Saqsaywaman Cusco, Peru

Here we discovered that we made a rookie American tourist mistake by not bringing enough local currency. It is true, we get a bit spoiled in Houston being so close to Mexico. They are kind enough to take US dollars everywhere. Here, not so much. Don’t forget your Soles!


The second was Tambomachay. This one is really just a very old fountain. Though further excavations found canals, waterfalls, and aqueducts. It is set back off the road down a paved path about a quarter of a mile.

Tambomachay Cusco, Peru

Puka Pukara

Our next stop was just across the highway, the site of Puka Pukara. The guidebooks were not overly kind to these ruins but we quite enjoyed them. It was very close to the road (yay, no more lugging the kid). The lot is really just an enhanced shoulder. You cross a small footbridge and you are at the ruins.

Puka Pukara is certainly ruins. All that is left are the crumbling remains of walls from a long-abandoned Inca fort. They are largely composed of moss-covered grey boulders weathered into Rubanesque soft lines. Few stand taller than a man but the complex is enchanting an enjoyable stop.

Puka Pukara
Puka Pukara
Puka Pukara
Puka Pukara


Our last stop was Q’enco. This site is home to the remains of an Incan temple but it still has chamber and tunnels to explore. Is it just me, but anytime you can climb around and through ruins it feels so much more legit!?

We had been sightseeing for about two hours at this point and our little guy was ready for another nap. We did have the carrier but when we arrived he was already asleep and it is hard to put kids into that style of backpack when they are limp. I will say, Indiana Jones never had to explore with a sleeping baby on his shoulder so I may have some next level archeology skills. Maybe.

We definitely packed a lot into this day. And, we did not let Q’neco end the history party! Our last stop was the Inca Museum then we headed back to the hotel. It was a great local museum and worth the stop. Should we have skipped it? Probably, but who knows when we’ll get back!

We chose a restaurant on the square for dinner. I don’t even know which one. We sort of played Dinner Roulette and just picked one. I don’t think we ate guinea pig, but I suppose it’s possible. After that, we called it a night.

Our little guy had a rough night and vomited a few times due to the altitude. He was okay the next morning we were all just really tired. If you have more than one day to acclimate to the altitude that is really good idea but powering through is an option!

Day Three: Macchu Pichu!

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