The magic of Cusco
After a long flight, two layovers but full of excitement to visit one of the most beautiful cities in the world, we have landed in Cusco. In order to prepare for the stay in the city and 4 day hike of Inca trail I have been checking weather here closely, but for my surprise have to admit it’s much colder here than expected. So here comes my lesson Nr 1 – don’t believe The Weather Channel app, it says +24C but in reality it’s +8C.
The city of Cusco is at 3,326 meters (about 10,912 feet) above sea level. Most visitors need time to adapt to the altitude in Cusco before going on to Machu Picchu, Inca Trail or any of the trekking tours offered. Locals believe that Coca tea will help to relieve symptoms of altitude sickness. A little green leaf whose cultivation in the Andes dates back 4,000 years is the same plant that’s used to make cocaine. As we discovered later, by bringing home the tea as a souvenir for friends and family we were breaking the low because it’s recognized as an illegal narcotic substance. Uups!
The ancient capital of the Incan Empire, Cusco was named to Unesco’s World Cultural Heritage List in 1983, and continues to be one of the most visited destinations in Peru. It is a beautiful city of elegant balconied buildings, peaceful squares with trees and fountains, richly decorated churches and more museums and Inca ruins than most visitors have time to see.
Cusco surprises travelers with a fascinating fusion of rich Incan history, stunning Spanish colonial architecture, elegant boutique accommodations and great choice of restaurants. If you miss Starbucks as I did, there is one on the main square with nice balconies where to sip your coffee and enjoy to view on the main square.
The center of the city is Plaza de Armas, it’s worth visiting at least twice – by day and by night. You can sit at the steps of the cathedral, relax and people watch or go to one of the cafés with free WiFi and have a cup of tea or coffee.
The Inca stonework is incredible, this narrow pedestrian street is famous for its Inca walls where huge stones are precisely carved to fit together without mud or concrete. You’ll find the masterpiece, a 12-angled stone, about halfway down the street. It’s still unknown how Cusco was built, or how its stones were quarried.
Traditional clothing is big in Peru, you will see locals wearing colorful textiles with fashionable but mainly functional properties like warmth and durability. K’eperina is a large piece of durable cloth used to carry items on the back. Both men and women use it as a practical tool, although those used by women tend to be more colorful and elaborate.
Where to stay:
Andean Wings Boutique Hotel
Great place close to the city center with small but comfortable rooms, Great breakfast, free H2O and medical assistance if having trouble with altitude sickness.