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Cusco

Cusco

Welcome to Cusco, the Capital of the Incas!

Cusco means “the navel” in our ancestral language (Quechua) and was once the cultural and religious capital of the Inca Universe. Nowadays it is known as the ‘Historic Capital of Peru’ and is the oldest continuously inhabited city in South America. It lies in a dry lake bed at 3334 metres/10938ft above sea level and is located in the south-east highlands, 1100km from Lima. It has an average temperature of 14C, is the most popular tourist destination in Peru and one of the 10 top world destinations.

This ancient city and its surrounds offer an amazing variety of tours, unrivalled by any other place in South America. In and around Cusco you can visit sites belonging to 3 different periods of time; pre Inca-sites, Inca sites and Spanish colonial constructions. (In some cases you will see all these 3 styles combined in just one building!)

The Cusco region, however, is not limited to cultural tourism. It also gives you the opportunity to take pleasure in its natural beauty; its countryside and rivers that are surrounded by an incredible landscape. A short journey out of the city will take you into the heart of the Andes, where you can enjoy hikes, river rafting trips, horse riding trips or simply wander leisurely.

How to get here:

International flights fly in and out of Lima and there are several airlines that offer many daily flights to Cusco from Lima costing approximately $130 one way (one hour). Also, a variety of bus companies provide services to Cusco, costing approximately $30 one way. This takes about 22 hours!!! From other major cities there are also flights (domestic airport tax is 14 s/. – approximately $ 4) and bus services are available from most urban areas.

Facilities:

Banks – Many banks on the main street (Avenida del Sol) have ATMs from which you can withdraw cash with Visa or Mastercard. A lot of hotels, agencies and restaurants also accept payment with Visa, Mastercard or American Express.

Money/Traveller’s Cheque Exchange – The current exchange rate for an American dollar is 3.31549 S/. (Soles) and there a lot of places (Casa de Cambio) where you can change your money (dollars) or traveller’s cheques into soles. Please note that dollars need to be in perfect condition to be accepted.

You can also change Euros or English pounds although the rates are not very good. Therefore it is worth changing your money into dollars before you come to Peru.

Accommodation – There is accommodation in Cusco to suit every purse; from budget hostals to five-star hotels. In peak season, we recommend booking ahead (we can suggest hotels according to your requirements and make the necessary reservations). For longer-stay travellers, there are also unfurnished and furnished rooms and apartments that can be rented per day, week or month for good rates.

Food and Drink – There are plenty of local and tourist restaurants that offer a wide-variety of food; from the delicious grilled-guinea pig (local delicacy), ceviche (raw fish marinated in lemon), pollos a la brasa (chicken grilled in a fire-wood oven, served with chips – Peruvian fast food!) to pizza and pasta restaurants.

Popular drinks here are coca tea (tea made from the coca leaf), Inca Kola (soft drink made with lemon grass – only found in Peru!), Pisco Sour (a mix of Pisco, egg whites, lemon, sugar, cinnamon and ice) and chicha (alcoholic drink made from corn).

Shopping – A great variety of hand-made textiles can be found here; popular buys are alpaca, llama or the high-quality vicuna wool fabrics. There are also beautiful ceramic works and gold and silver jewellery on sale. Most of the best shops are located around the main square (Plaza de Armas) in Cusco.

Weather:

In the highlands in general, there are only two seasons:

Dry – May to October. During these months, the days are usually hot and sunny (20-25C) and the nights are cold, particularly in June and July (0C or below).

Wet – November to April. (The wettest months are January to March.) Although this is known as the wet season, it does not usually rain all day! The mornings are generally clear and dry and it is in the afternoons that there are heavy outbursts. In the day, the temperatures are normally around 18C and in the night, around 15C.

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