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Cusco Peru

Before embarking on the iconic journey to Machu Picchu, the ancient Incan citadel nestled amidst the Andes Mountains, it is essential to prepare your body for the altitude. By spending a few days in Cusco, you will not only prepare your body for the altitude but also get to explore the captivating city of Cusco.

Having acclimated to the high altitude of Bogotá (2,625m), we only spent a night in Cusco / Cuzco before taking the train to Aguas Calientes for our Machu Picchu hike. The flight from Lima to Cusco took just an hour and twenty minutes. A taxi from the airport to Hoteles Casa Real costs 20 SOL for the 15-minute ride.


ACCOMMODATION IN CUSCO

Hoteles Casa Real

Our stay at Hoteles Casa Real cost USD23.81 per night, including breakfast. While we initially booked only one night, the hotel’s convenient location – just a 3-minute walk from the train station – convinced us to stay with them again for our remaining two nights stay upon returning from Aguas Calientes.

This also allowed us to leave our baggage with the hotel and travel light during our one-night stay in Aguas Calientes for our Machu Picchu visit.


PLACES OF INTEREST IN CUSCO

During our three-night stay in Cusco, we had the opportunity to visit fascinating sites, sample exotic fruits, meet warm locals, enjoy the energy of a live band, and befriend a delightful four-legged friend.

Qoricancha – Temple Of The Sun

The site of the Inca Temple of the Sun, which was ransacked and destroyed by the Spanish, later became the location of the Church of Santo Domingo, built upon its ruins.

The very walls of the Coricancha tell a story of resilience. Constructed from indigenous calcite and andesite stones, they embody the impeccable craftsmanship of Inca architecture. These sturdy materials have ensured the structure’s survival through the ages, even weathering three devastating earthquakes that have shaken Cusco.

Plaza de Armas

The Plaza de Armas, the epicentre of Cusco’s cultural heritage, was a hive of activity, offering a captivating glimpse into the city’s vibrant local life. Its perimeter is lined by plenty of restaurants, bars, and cafés, all offering sweeping panoramic views.

An intricate statue of Incan ruler Pachacuti stands majestically in the plaza, surrounded by a carefully tended garden. Cusco’s massive cathedral, a symbol of the Spanish conquest, stood proudly nearby.

This location presents an exceptional setting for a leisurely afternoon of people-watching. It provides an ideal environment for acclimatizing to Cusco’s high altitude while indulging in the vibrant ambience and spectacular views.

Cristo Blanco

A towering statue of Christ overlooks the city. While initially following Google Maps, which led us to the challenging terrain, a kind policeman guided us towards an easier / official route.

It was along this path with steep steps and red dirt road that we met Jose, a 16-year-old who became our unofficial tour guide, providing valuable insights into the area.

Sacsayhuaman

Sacsayhuaman, known for its memorable pronunciation as ‘Sexy Woman,’ served as a religious sanctuary and the site of a violent confrontation between the Inca army and Spanish conquistadors.

Although we did not venture inside the compound, this ancient Inca site is situated a mere 800m from Cristo Blanco. While passing by on our way back to town, we could still see some of the incredible stonework.

San Pedro Market

For a true taste of Cusco life, head to the vibrant San Pedro Market. More than just a place to buy handicrafts, fresh produce, meats, and other goods, it’s a hub of activity where you can savour a delicious lunch and enjoy freshly squeezed juice.

In this market, you can also find traditional remedies, like coca leaves, which some people use to alleviate altitude sickness.

We visited the market twice during our trip. On our first visit, we indulged in a lamb feast for two, costing 30 SOL. Our second visit offered similar pricing plus 13 SOL for our refreshing juices.

This market offers the traditional delicacy of Cuy (guinea pig) for around 25 – 30 SOL. While those with strong stomachs may be tempted, we opted for the refreshing prickly pear, known locally as Tuna.

While it tasted similar to papaya, it contained numerous hard seeds, similar to grape seeds, which made it somewhat bothersome to eat before we could enjoy the juicy flesh.


RESTAURANT & BAR

Restaurante Esquina de la Ronda

If you’re staying nearby and craving a meal, I highly recommend Restaurante Esquina de la Ronda, conveniently located just across the street from the hotel where we stayed.

The restaurant offers a diverse menu ranging from salads, pasta, and soups to grilled meats, fish, and hamburgers, all complemented by its charming ambience and exceptional service.

La Fabrica

A lively sports bar where we spent a memorable night enjoying live music. There, we had the pleasure of meeting the sweet and friendly Pica the Brave and its owner. They have been travelling around South America on a bike, living a nomadic life.


Practical Tips for Cusco

  • Book accommodations in advance, especially during peak season.
  • Learn basic Spanish phrases for better communication.
  • Respect local customs and traditions.
  • Be prepared for altitude sickness as Cusco (3,399m) is higher than Machu Picchu (2,430m).

From the town centre to the airport, it costs 8 SOL. The airport, while small, lacked Wi-Fi, but it did feature a single shop, Altomayo, offering refreshments and snacks.

Travel Date: 10th Mac ~ 14th Mac 2020

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