I miss Peru so much, guys! It's crazy how time flies. It's been almost a month since I left Peru. Today's blog post is all about the beautiful city of Cusco!
Cusco is where I stayed during my time volunteering in Peru. For those of you wondering how I go about my volunteering abroad experiences - I actually signed up through a super affordable company called International Volunteer HQ. A great reputation, a huge variety of locations and programs, and very affordable; IVHQ is a fantastic program and I highly recommend it! I basically went on to the website, chose my destination and the type of project (Animal Care), and applied! Voila, I was accepted and my flights were booked! IVHQ uses local volunteer companies in each country to organize your accommodations and volunteer work. In Peru, the local program is Maximo Nivel. With 3 other associated countries, Maximo has been a strong and reputable volunteer headquarters and language school for many years. This was my second time working with Maximo, (first being Costa Rica), and I was so happy with the love and care they give to each volunteer.
Outside of your volunteer time, you are free to do as you please! We would explore the city until dinner, and back out to do some more exploring after! One of our first adventures was to Cristo Blanco - a gorgeous Jesus statue overlooking the main part of Cusco. It's about an hour walk to the top of the mountain, which can be so exhausting because of the altitude, so I took a bus haha! The view was amazing!
During our free time, we would do things like go out to eat, spontaneous bus rides, and salsa dancing! We visited a local dance studio and learned to salsa dance! Man, was it ever tricky, but I loved the music.
There were so many awesome restaurants in Cusco, mostly in the touristy area near the main plaza. During our countless adventures we discovered so many great places to eat that either offered both vegan meals and non-vegan meals, (try the vegan meal - I promise you won't regret it), or were all vegan! There were some great burgers, (I had a hashbrown burger, and a lentil burger - so good!!) The waffles and fries are from a fabulous place called Greenpoint. It's a vegan restaurant that even serves lasagna! (It's been a while since I've had lasagna). The burgers are usually from Native Burgers Chakruna. It's an awesome burger place that serves 4 different kinds of veggie burgers and they were so delicious with the rosemary fries that came with it. Another great place is Jack's Restaurant. It is an all-day breakfast place that also serves lunch. It's a very americanized restaurant but great for tourists. There are so many more that are worth checking out, but these were my favourites.
One of our other adventures included an ATV ride to the Salt Mines! It was about an our ATV ride, but seemed so quick since it was so fun! Very dirty, I was literally covered in a full layer of dust, but well worth it. Even saw a cute donkey, tasted some fresh salt, and enjoyed a beautiful sunset! This part might have been my favourite of the whole trip, honestly! It was just a unique and special view with so much to learn. Fresh salt is so strong to taste, but a really cool opportunity.
We booked an afternoon tour with American Inca Trail to explore the surrounding area of Cusco. It was an awesome experience! I really enjoyed. We explored ruins, and the country's largest rock. We also visited a llama and palace sanctuary! We got to feed them and pet them - they are seriously the cutest animals.
IVHQ and Maximo Nivel provide such an amazing opportunity for other volunteers to connect and meet. In my home-stay, there were 7 other volunteers and everyone was so sweet and kind. I made such great friends and went on adventures with them everyday! Most of my fellow volunteers were in a Medical program, but some were also doing Animal Care like me! We all had the morning shift, which was great for being able to have friends to explore with and go out for lunch. Being vegan can be hard while travelling, but thankfully there were other volunteers with the same food choices as me which made it very convenient. I am so thankful for the wonderful opportunity I was given to make such great friends. I miss them already! 🙁
I can't wait to go back one day. What a beautiful country.
Until next time,