This ancient capital of the Incan Empire and a World Heritage Site since 1983, Cusco—or Cuzco as it is commonly known—is a Peruvian city in the Urubamba region of the Andes Mountains nestled up around 11,000 feet. It was headquarters for a major empire in the past, but now much of the city is completely dominated by the tourist industry. If you stay in the touristy center it could be described as the classic tourist trap, in every since of the word. There’s plenty to see and do in terms of history and beauty, but it’s tainted by the overwhelming feeling that you are in the middle of a very touristy version of what it could have been at one point in time. You have to walk to the outer streets to see real life, emerge without tourists.
Despite the obvious tourist nature of the place, there is no better headquarters for beginning your exploration of Machu Picchu or any of the other various Incan sites throughout the region. The Spanish occupation over the centuries has also left its mark in many of the colonial buildings left behind, preserved in all their architectural splendor. Combined with the indigenous population’s culture, there is aheady blend of ancient, colonial, and modern.
The majority come here for one thing: the Incan ruins. And that’s definitely the main selling point of this region of South America. Their city has close access to Machu Picchu, which is considered the most—spectacular ruins on the planet. But there are also plenty of galleries and museums throughout the city itself, and the food and atmosphere cannot be matched. Plus, as a major city, transportation is easy to arrange, and you can quickly head out into the surrounding countryside for some more cultural activities away from the main tourist attractions. Just remember to plan ahead, because you can’t really see and experience all there is to do around Cusco in just a few days; you need at least a week or two.
Pisac is a small Peruvian village on the Urubamba River, some forty five minutes from Cusco. The village is well known for its huge market every Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday.
Ollantaytambo is a town located in Peru's "Sacred Valley" and is about 40 miles northwest of Cusco on the route to Macchu Pichu. It is located at a fairly lofty altitude of 9,200 feet and th…