Cusco Travel Blog

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ve just left Cusco, which is a beautiful city and the capital of the former Inca Empire. It was captured by the Spanish in the 1500s and as a result has a lot of beautiful old churches and colonial buildings. There are also reminders of the Incas as well.

Cusco is surrounded on all sides by hills and the town consists of narrow, twisting, cobblestoned streets extending up into the hills. It has a lot of character. On top of one of the hills is a large white statue of Christ with his arms extended, and which is lit up at night.
There is also another large cross and a monastery perched on the other hills. (90% of Peru is Roman Catholic)

To save a very long bus trip, we flew into Cusco from the capital, Lima.
The altitude of Cusco is 3300m, which is high enough for most people to feel the effects of altitude.

Llama at Maccu Pichu
We didn't have anywhere booked to stay, and it was very exhausting at that altitude to walk around with our big backpacks to find somewhere to sleep. It didn't take us long to find somewhere though - Cusco is a tourist town and there is plenty of accomodation.

We had been in the Amazon before this, so this was the first time that we started to see the Andean people who look quite different to other people in Peru. They look Indian (compared to a lot of the population who are of mixed Spanish descent). They are much shorter and quite stout. The ladies have really long braids on both sides which extend right down their backs, and which they tie together at the ends to form a loop.
They mostly dress very similar in calf length pleated skirts, heavy woollen cardigans and tights, and felt hats.

Arriving at Macchu Pichu
Mostly, they carry a big cloth on their backs (stripey South American styled fabric if that makes sense), tied around their shoulders, forming a pouch. They carry all sorts of things in this, and if they have a baby, it sits in here as well.

The main square of Cusco is very attractive, lined with old Spanish buildings, and lots of restaurants (with lots of touts roaming: "Come to my restaurant - I have a balcony table for you!")
and travel agencies (Free information Senorita. Horse riding? Macchu Piccu?)
and shops selling lots of trinkets including a lot of woollen items ("alpacaalpacababyalpaca!").
There are also a lot of people selling things on the street - like the ubiquitous finger puppets.
They are very sweet and I can't remember the last time I saw one, but they are everywhere here.

Knee high children look up at you with hopeful faces and ten wiggling finger puppet clad fingers (llamas, alligators, bees, mice, little andean people - you name it, there is a finger puppet version of it!)
They were only 1 sole each (50c), so I did buy a couple from them (now, what to do with them...)

Cusco is a very nice town which we probably would have visited anyway, but the main reason we went there was because it was the point of departure for the Inca Trail to Maccu Piccu.

We stayed for 3 days to acclimatise to the altitude. Surprisingly, it was Cameron who felt it the most with a throbbing headache and a general feeling of weakness. On the first day, I felt it very slightly.
I didn't get the headache, but my breathing at rest sounded like a smoker who had just run up a few flights of stairs.

We rested that first day, but the next day, feeling better, we made the mistake of climbing to the top one of the surrounding hills to where the statue of Christ was. It was a great view over the city, but we were both rewarded for our efforts with blinding headaches. This was around 3pm, and we had to lie down and didnĀ“'t wake up until the next morning.

Coca tea is served everywhere at high altitude places here and is the remedy for alititude sickness. You put 5-10 coca leaves in boiling water and drink the infusion. Coca leaves are also what cocaine is extracted from. The tea acts as a diuretic and helps the swelling of the brain to go down hence relieving the headache.

By the time we left for the Inca trail though, we felt fine. We were picked up by a minibus at 6am on Thursday morning.
boriana84 says:
Sometime in the near future my husband is planning on taking me on this same rout to Machu Pichu :-D
Posted on: Aug 26, 2007
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photo by: Vlindeke