Cusco Travel Blog› entry 26 of 43 › view all entries
We arrived in Cuzco after a tough night journey rising up to 3,310 M (10,859.6 FT) altitude. We where were dropped just outside town and were taken to a hostel by someone waiting at the bus statiion. Just being there an hour we could feel that it was hardder to breathe at this altitude coming from low ground over night. Cusco was also far colder than ica, just looking around you could see eveyone wearing long sleeves tops or jackets. We through on our warm clothes after getting checked into our accomadation then grabbed a bite to eat at a nice sandwhich and juice bar just next to our accomadation. We were based within 5 minutes of the beautifull central square. Our accomadation was a nice, clean room with en suite and TV. After a bite to eat we caught up on the sleep we lost from travelling. After couple hours it was now mid day and time to do bit of exploring around the city. The main plaza de armas in cusco was a large square with a fountain in the middle surrounded by grass. Around the square were cobbled roads were old trams drove along with the steady traffic. The square was surrounded by impressive looking grand cathedral on 2 sides with the other 2 sides scattered with eateries, tour agencys and a variety of different shops.
The northern and western sides of the Plaza are now lined by arcades with shops and travel agencies. There are many restaurants, bars and coffee shops with beautifully carved wooden balconies overlooking the Plaza - a great place to relax and enjoy the view.
The Plaza's north-eastern edge is dominated by the Cathedral which is flanked on the right-hand side by the El Triunfo church.
On the south-east side is the smaller but more ornate church of La Compania de Jesus with its impressive pair of belfrie. After having around the plaza we headed to a near by market just a short walk away.
sHere they sold all the same sort of stuff as in Lima. All the peruvian garments and souvenirs. It was a really nice city just to walk around with beautifull architectue in every direction. The next day we spent sorting out a tour for the macchu picchu. We chose to do a tour called The Jungle Inka Tour. This was a four day three night tour involving cycling, jungle trekking, hot springs then on the last day the Macchu Picchu. We had booked it to leave the following day. The rest of the dya was just spent stocking up on some more warm clothes trying to get to grips with the altitude with we were both struggling with. Cusco was the most popular toursit destination in Peru mainly for the reason of being the hub for trips to the Macchu Picchu. The next morning we were packed and ready to go for the four day day tour to the macchu picchu, still feeling quite uncomfotable in the stomach from the altitude.
Often referred to as the 'Archaeological Capital of the Americas' Cusco is a beautiful city riddled with contrasts between the indigenous styles and the modern western world. It is these contrasts that have given Cusco its rare beauty.
Most visitors are keen to get to Machu Picchu, either by trekking for 4 days along the Inca Trail, or by 4 hours in the train, but Cusco itself has a lot to offer the visitor and most travellers usually end up seduced with this vibrant city and stay longer than first planned.
The first thing that hits the newly arrived visitor to Cusco are the Inca walls; enormous granite blocks carved to fit together perfectly without the aid of mortar beds. Many of the walls were simply built upon during the construction of a new Spanish city. Its a tribute to the Incas that their anti seismic design has survived the test of time while the Spanish colonial architecture has been rebuilt several times following a wave of earthquakes that have hit the city.
Located at an altitude of 3,360m above sea level, Cusco was referred to as the 'Navel of the World'.
The city has a long and interesting history dating back to 1200AD and linked to the first Inca ruler Manco Capac. However the city saw its expansion in the 15th century under the rule of the greatest Inca Pachacutec, who led a drive that spread the boundaries of the Inca empire as far south as Chile and Argentina, and north to include Ecuador and Columbia. This rapid expansion abruptly came to an end on the arrival of the Spanish Conquistadors, led by Francisco Pizarro who, following the murder of the Inca Atahaulpa in Cajamarca, marched into Cusco in 1534 and added it definitively to the realms of King Charles V. This invasion opened the gates to a cultural mix that has left its imprint on every aspect of Peruvian culture, especially in the ancient Andean capital of Cusco.
hen arriving in Cusco from the coast you'll immediately notice the thin clear mountain air, a result of the City's high altitude. The first day in particular should be spent quietly relaxing and taking things easy as you gently acclimatize. Plan to spend at least 3 days in and around Cusco before starting any serious trekking such as the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. This is an ideal opportunity to see the highlights Cusco has to offer such as a tour of the City, the nearby Inca Ruins of Sacsayhuaman, Qenko, Pucapucara and Tambomachay and, of course, a day trip out to the Sacred Valley of the Incas including a visit to the traditional Indian market at Pisac, the beautiful village of Ollantaytambo and the small village of Chinchero located high up in the mountains.