Sicuani – Cusco
On Sunday, 31 march, I left Sicuani to go to Urcos – about 95km. It was a day with good weather, and I mainly had to descend – from 3550m to 3100m. I left quite early, and did the first 60km up to the village of Cusipata without a break. While I was drinking some lemonade, three cyclists arrived – Rob, with whom I cycled from Tupiza to Potosi, and a Dutch couple. We greeted each other and continued together up to Urcos.
Urcos is a village about 47km from Cusco, and when we arrived the was a market going on (probably the regular Sunday market), and so there were a lot of people. We went to a hostel, took a shower, and went to look for some lunch, which wasn't that easy – it was too late for lunch. In the end we found something, and after lunch we went to the lake on the edge of Urcos to spend the afternoon and to eat some mangos.
The following day we had breakfast on the main square, and then we left for Cusco. There was a lot of traffic – maybe because it was Monday – but at least up to the village of Huacarpay the landscape was beautiful. After the village began Cusco suburbia – with lots of traffic, some industry and other businesses, and all of that with a climb up to the centre of Cusco. The last 15km up to Cusco were quite ugly and hard. Finally we arrived at the Hostal Estrellita, a hostel quite popular cyclists, and with a friendly atmosphere. We took a shower and then went to have lunch at the Plaza de Armas.
While the historic centre of Cusco is very beautiful, there are too many foreign tourists, and the entire centre of the town is almost exclusively for tourists. There are lots of tour agencies and people who want to give you “information”, but in reality want to sell you a tour, an excursion, or something. There are lots of women who want to sell you a massage (and really a massage – it's not prostitution), and all of this did annoy me quite a lot. This is the bad side of the tourism industry, and Cusco is the most touristy city of Peru.
In the afternoon we went to the central market of Cusco to buy some vegetables and other stuff for dinner. There were less tourists (we were quite late), and we bought a lot of food. We returned to the hostel to cook, and we ate a lot (and had a few beers).
Today I went first to buy the train tickets from Ollantaytambo (about 70km from Cusco) to Machu Picchu. There are two companies (PeruRail and IncaRail), but both are extremely expensive. I paid US$105 for the return ticket – and that was the “cheapest” option. I then went to the office of the Regional Administration of Culture (DRC) to buy the entry tickets for Machu Picchu – another 142 soles (£36), including the mountain of Machu Picchu. All is very expensive, but there are no other options. Nevertheless I felt like the victim of a legal robbery (especially because of the train tickets).