I'm on holiday in Peru at the moment, and writing about the various places I've been - first stop was the rainforest and from there we went back to Puerto Maldonado and flew to Cusco. At 3300ish metres above sea level, this was my first experience of anything like this altitude. I had a nasty headache and the experience of the room moving as if I was drunk (which I wasn't, before anyone makes any suggestions!). I was prewarned about the lack of oxygen - but still found it hard to slow down enough for my body to cope! This wasn't at all helped by the location of our (very nice if basic) hotel - halfway up a road so steep there were steps in the pavements.
One thing I wasn't warned about (and yes, its obvious, but didn't occur to me in time) is that everything kind of explodes when it suddenly finds itself under so much less atmospheric pressure. My lip gloss was spectacularly pink, sticky and sparkly when I took the lid off and it all flowed straight out of its tube. Even more fun was my rollerball deodorant which popped the ball off across the bathroom floor when I took the lid off it :)
We had most of a free day in Cusco before heading off on our next trip, and then another day when we got back. Its a nice city, with plenty of shopping and restaurants around, and people were really helpful with questions about things like stamps. When we returned a few days later, we visited the Sun Temple and also fitted in some excellent shopping. I even commissioned a bespoke bag, from a man surrounded by bags, with a sewing machine and (I discovered) his suppliers' stall was just across the aisle. I demanded colour and shape, paid about 6 GBP for it, and was able to pick it up in 2 hours - amazing service!
From Cusco, we went into the Sacred Valley, which is a very fertile and green place (this is rainy season). We're so close to the equator here that its easy to forget that even the lowest points in this landscape are at dizzying altitude, everything grows just fine. Our trip took us via Corao and Pisaq markets (no photos of these, I think I was too busy shopping. I bought all the usual things like jumpers, scarves and presents - and 12 balls of shocking pink llama wool. From there we went up to Ollantaytambo.
Ollantaytambo is a nice little town, and also the name of an Inca site. We visited the site first, its very steep - and when we were there it was raining and I was very amused by the convoys of rainbow-coloured ponchos people had bought from the street sellers!
While in Ollantaytambo, we stumbled over Hearts Cafe which is a great social project as well as an excellent cafe. We got a proper English afternoon tea (very welcome at 4pm after a long day) and also ordered packed lunches which we picked up the next morning for our trip to Machu Picchu.
More photos are in my flickr set for this trip - plenty more of these to come though so keep checking back.