Cusco’s colonial charm, Incan history, surrounding Sacred Valley and, not least, proximity to Machu Picchu combine to make it Peru’s tourism capital. With great food options and lots to see, the city is an excellent trip hub despite its 3,400 metre-high elevation. I was based there for three weeks in July and August 2016.
Cusco’s central Plaza de Armas including the imposing cathedral
Also known as Cuzco, Cusco was capital of the Inca Empire for almost a century until conquered by the Spanish conquistadors in 1533. The Spanish destroyed the original structures and replaced them with the colonial city, often building on Incan foundations. Continue reading →
Cusco’s international exposure and Peru’s South American-leading cuisine combine to provide fantastic food options. Following are seven favourite places from my July-August 2016 stay.
Although touristy, the ChocoMuseo museum, gift shop and café are well worth a visit, or, in my case, multiple visits. The museum explains the chocolate production process and history and the café serves exquisite chocolate-based food and drinks. ChocoMuseo’s workshops also come recommended.
Chocolate mousse and mix your own Mayan hot chocolate ingredients (chilli, honey, hot milk and cacao) viewing Plaza Regocijo and the city beyondContinue reading →
The tragedy of melting ice caps and glaciers caused by global warming has a silver lining in southern Peru’s Cusco Region. A few years ago receding snowline exposed the exquisite, multi-coloured Rainbow Mountain. Three hours drive east of Cusco, Rainbow Mountain (Vinicunca) is now a popular tourist attraction.
Rainbow Mountain is higher than 5,000 metres and should only be tackled once acclimatised to altitude. Given my previous experience above 5,000 metres, I chose to visit after nearly three weeks in 3,400 metre high Cusco. In August 2016, Lotte and I woke up very early for the day-trip’s 3am pick-up.
Llamas grazing in a stone-walled paddock with an icy peak in the backgroundContinue reading →
15th century Incan citadel Machu Picchu is a world famous historic site and Peru’s biggest tourist attraction. First publicised to the outside world in 1911 by Hiram Bingham, it is one of few significant pre-Columbian sites not discovered and destroyed by the Spanish conquistadors. Machu Picchu was also the final destination of my four day Inka Jungle Trek.
Located between Hidroelectrica and Aguas Calientes, Machu Picchu is approximately 75 kilometres by straight line from CuscoContinue reading →
A popular way to visit tourist magnet Machu Picchu is via a multi-day trek with the primary treks being:
Inca Trail: the most expensive and prestigious route, often requires booking several months in advance
Salkantay Trek: an alternative route that can be hiked independently
Inca (or Inka) Jungle Trek: a hybrid, activity based trek staying in hostels instead of tents
I chose the Inca Jungle Trek and in August 2016 enjoyed a fantastic four days with a wonderful group of people including Dale, Wian, Johann, Damian, Magali and Nicola along with super guide Jhimmy. The good food, reasonable accommodation and great value topped off the trip.
Cusco was the capital of the Incan Empire and this importance is reflected in the region’s impressive archaeological sites.
North of the city are four main sites, entry to which is included in the main Boleto Turistico del Cusco (Tourist Ticket): Tambomachay, Pukapukara, Qenqo and Saqsayhuaman. Along with smaller ruins, they make a great day hike. I enjoyed exploring the area enough to require two days.
The best way to see the sites is to take a taxi, bus or collectivo up to the furthermost site, Tambomachay, and then hike downhill back to Cusco via the other ruins.
Tambomachay includes terraced rocks and water features, the historical function of which is uncertain Continue reading →
Ollantaytambo is a popular tourist destination in the Sacred Valley of the Incas between Cusco and Machu Picchu. Despite crowds of tourists, Ollantaytambo’s impressive Incan ruins are worth exploring.
From Pisac, in August 2016, Xindi, Lina and myself followed the French traveller in and out multiple buses before eventually arriving to Ollantaytambo. Like Pisac, entrance to Ollantaytambo’s ruins is included in the main Boleto Turistica del Cusco (Cusco Tourist Ticket).
Ollantaytambo town’s Incan streets still have drains running through them