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Cusco

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"I have to admit that when it comes to natural beauty [Cuzco] ranks number one among the places of the world I have visited. The people, the food, the mysticism of the ancient culture are beyond what I ever thought to find".

 

You'll missing out if you skip Cusco on your way to Machu Picchu or the Sacred Valley of the Incas. This city is a mix of new and old: ancient inca walls holding up baroque colonial building. inside of whick lie some of the city's most contemporary restaurants and shop, Colonial churches and cultural museums dot the plaza,while funky modern cafes sit side by side with traditionals galleries of cusqueñan  art in San Blas. Inca gems are everywhere even along the traffic heavy business district of Avenida el Sol home of Cusco's star attracction the Qorikancha Sun Temple.


Cuzco If you arrive in Cuzco with the intention of hopping on the train to Machu Picchu the next morning, you'll probably only have time to take a stroll through the Plaza de Armas and visit Qorikancha (temple of the sun) and the Catedral. However, the city merits exploration, either at the star or end you trip. We recommend spending at least two days in Cusco, giving you time to acclimate to the altitude and get to know this city of terra-cotta roofs and cobblestone streets. The churches and some restaurants close for a few hours in the middle of the day. Most of the city's museums close on Sunday.


Cusco takes its newest role as tourist favorite in stride, and absorbs thousands of travelers with an ample supply of lodgings, restaurants and services. That a polished infrastructure exist in such a remote, high-elevation locale is a pleasant surprise.  

 

Top Reasons to Go

* Inca Architecture: How did the inca costructo stone walls so precisely using 15th-century technology. How could they position a temple so it would be illuminated best at the exact moment of the solstice.

* Andean Cuisine: Where else inthe world will you find roasted cuy (guinea pig) and alpaca steaks rubbing shoulders of fine-dinning menus

* Layered Religion: take a closer look at eh walls every Catholic church was build on the site, and often the foundation, of an Inca Huaca, Or Sacred Place

* Hotels with History: Cusco's hostelries brim with history. Many are former convents, monasteries, dwellings of sacred women, or palaces of Spanish Conquerors.

* Alpaca Clothing: Nothing Says "Cuzco" quite like s sweater, shawl, poncho, or scarf wove from the hair of the alpaca

 

Getting Oriented

At the center of Cusco is the Colonial Plaza de Armas slightly sloped, with streets heading sownhill, most prominently the Avenida El Sol, leading to the more modern sections of the city. Heading uphill takes you to eh city's older neighborhoods, notably the artisan quarter of San Blas and its web of pedestrian-only walkways. If you look up and to the left, you'll see that towering over the lot is the archaeological. site of sacsayhuaman which sits jut to the Christo Blanco. This white christ statueis most clearly seen at night when it's lighted by floodlights.

The Urubamba mountain range on the north side and Cuzco and environs on the south side watch over the river basin known as the sacred valley.Transportation to the Sacred Valley is straightforward, with roads fanning out from the Urubamba, the valley's samall hub city and back to Cusco

 

Planning to travel Cusco

When to Go

Cusco's high season is June through early September (winter) and the days around the christmas and Easter Holidays. Winter means drier weather and easier traveling, buy higher lodging prices and larger crowds. Prices and visitor number drop dramatically duriing the November through March summer rainy season, except around the Holidays

 

Side Trips from Cusco

Cusco may be enchantingly beautiful, but with the constante hassic to buy buy buy. It's not the most relaxing place on earth. Yet just outside the city lies one of Peru's most spectacular and serene regions, filled with Andean mountains tiny hamlets and ancient Inca ruins. In a half-day trip you can visit some Peru's gratest historical areas and monument, just beyond Cusco city limits surch as Sacsayhuaman perched hight on a hill overlooking the city, or the spectacular sights of Qenko, puka pukara and tambomachay.
The Urubamba Valley localted northwest of Cuzco and functioning as the gateway to the sacred valley of the inca, wich extendents further northwest, attract the Puma's shared of visitors going to machu picchu. specially those looking to catch their breath and some R&R in the regions idyllic setting. Additionally, the valley sur, a stretch of highway running southeast of Cusco to Sicuani, boast lesser.known but equally impressive, inca and Pre-incas sites.

 

Acclimatizing the Coca way

Take it easy! Cusco is a breathless 3,300 meters (10,852 feet) above sea level-a fact you’ll very soon appreciate as you huff and puff your way up its sleep cobbled streets. With 30% less oxygen in the atmosphere the best way to avoid altitude sickness is to take it easy on your first few days. There’s no point in dashing of on that inca hike if you’re not acclimatized – altitude sickness is uncomfortable at best and can be very dangerous. Local swear by mate de coca, an herbal tea brewed from coca leaves that helps with altitude acclimatization. Indigenous peoples have chewed the leaves of the coca plant for centuries to cope with Andean elevations. But the brewing of the leaves in an herbal tea is considered a more refined and completely legal way to ingest the substance, in Andean nations at least. Most restaurant and many hotels have a pot sleeping constantly.

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