Top 10 Places to visit in Cusco

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Best things to do in Cusco and sightseeing in Cusco

Machu Picchu - Cusco

On reaching the top, the friendly staff at the tourist desk hand over a navigation map of the site and also offer guide service for a fee. I was accompanied by my Peruvian friend, who had earlier been to Machu Pichhu couple of times and offered to be my guide. I also got my passport stamped with the name “Machu Pichhu” asa souvenir. The air is really thin at the top and care needs to be taken not to over exert. Fortunately the weather was extremely sunny and pleasant that day (20 degrees Celsius),which is a rarity. Maybe we were blessed by the Sun God that day. Located about 2.400 meters above sea level on a small hilltop between the Andes mountain Range, the mystical city soars above the Urabamba Valley below. Built by the Inca Kings, this majestic structure was considered a lost city until it was discovered in 1911 by an American archaeologist named Hiram Bingham and later declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1983. It was estimated that approximately 1,200 people could have lived in the area, though many say it was most likely used as a retreat for Inca rulers. Due to it’s isolation from the rest of Peru,living in the area full time would require traveling great distances just to reach the nearest village. Since majority of the Incan population lived in and around the Andes Mountains, cities like Machu Picchu were generally reserved for those of a more rich and noble blood. It still remains a mystery as to how and why this ancient city fell. Was it war, earthquake, smallpox or the ruthless Spanish invasion? However the Spanish invaders did not know about Machu Pichhu although they controlled the majority of Inca Empire settlements, including nearby Cusco. Had they known about this site, when they arrived in the 1500's, Machu Picchu would probably have been lost to the world as local people say. As local history goes, Machu Picchuwas probably built around the year 1450 AD, and it only thrived for approximately 100 years. Once abandoned, the site survived only within the knowledge of locals who knew about its existence. Machu Picchu would live in lore until its rediscovery in 1911 by Hiram, who was exploring the area when he found the ruins with the help of a local farmer. Coincidentally Bingham found thousands of Inca artifacts upon his discovery of the ruins which are now housed at a museum in Cusco. Due to the fact that it had remained in obscurity for hundreds of years, Machu Picchu has been preserved and appears today much like it would have during its heyday. Among the most impressive characteristics of Machu Picchu is the technique that was employed to build it. It is still a general mystery as to how the In camanaged to move the large rocks that they used to construct the city,especially when you consider how it is perched almost precariously over the Urubamba River valley. You will likely stand in awe upon examining how these rocks were so expertly joined without the use of cement. The rocks of Machu Picchu were painstakingly carved until they perfectly fit the stones around them. Since the timing of my visit coincided with the Inti Raymi or Sun God festival celebrated on June 22nd (shortest day of the year in the southern hemisphere), the period is considered very high season. There were lot of tourists especially from US, Japan and Europe. I could sight one lone Indian couple from Hyderabad in the crowd of about 2,500 visitors which is the maximum allowed in a day bythe Peruvian Government. The adventurous tourists take the Inca trail to Machu Pichhu that lasts 2 to 4 days of trekking. Some even scale the nearby mountain called Waynapicchu located quite a distance from the main site. At Machu Pichhu one can visit three primary structures i.e. Intihuatana (Hitchingpost of the Sun), the Temple of the Sun, and the Room of the Three Windows. We used the route map to cover these places as well as Astronomical observatory, Temple of the Condor (bird worshipped by the Incas) and the fountains. I was amazed to see a rock resembling a sun dial perhaps used as a clock those days; vessel like objects and the huge condor bird carved in stone. The Temple of Sun God is prohibited to the visitors as reconstruction activity is still going on. The site is secured by guards posted all over the place, perhaps to ensure safety of this marvelous structure. The stepped terraces apparently used for agriculture is really intriguing and I could sight few llamas (National animal of Peru)grazing on the lush green grass. Close to the Astronomical observatory, there are orchids and trees with beautiful flowers, which are soothing to the eyes.It takes about 3 hours to see the entire site of Machu Pichhu and those interested in archaeology could perhaps spend an entire day. Thanks to the lovely weather, we were not tired even after 3 hours of hard trekking. Since no food is allowed within the premises we had to go back to Aguas Calientes for lunch followed by shopping for souvenirs to take back memories of Machu Pichhu. There are plenty of restaurants that serve all kind of cuisines but I settled down for a local Peruvian restaurant. The trip back to Cusco left me with profound memories of this great wonder and i tremains even after I landed in India.It’s a mysterious location, which leaves lot of questions unanswered even to this date. A must see location for those who love adventure and want to be left intrigued for years to come.
Arvind Kamath

191 Followers, 6 Reviews


To climb up to the entrance of Manchu Picchu took 1 hour and a further 1 hour steep rocky climb to Wayna Picchu. Sunrise at Manchu Picchu wasn’t terribly fantastic and the light quickly turned to a dull grey sky, at least it didn’t rain up in these Andean mountains! There were 2 timings up to Wayna Picchu and I was recommended the 11am timing when the fog and cloud dissipated, but it gets really hot and I would sweat off all 1 liter of my water bottle. Reluctantly paid a whopping us$5 for a tiny bottle of water! The view overlooking Manchu Picchu was amazing and photographs hardly express my feelings of this amazing Inca complex.It is said that Manchu Picchu is a spiritual university for the Incas where selected scholars and priests who come study the various science of that time, astrology being one of them. Whatever it was, the whole place gave me a huge sense of how amazing and god smacking awesome to have built this great university complex right in the mountains.
I Have Travel Lust

199 Followers, 7 Reviews


Most people visit the sacred ruins during their time in Peru. It's an impressive location, breathtaking scenery and fascinating architecture. Try to get up to the ruins on the first bus or start walking the 1800 steps at around 4am to be one of the first let in to the park.
Yellow River Peru

136 Followers, 2 Reviews


Yellow River - Cusco

This is a slice of the real Peru that most tourists don't get to see. This is a family hostel and homestay that shows guests around the farm, roasts coffee with them and is far from the busy tourist groups and organised tours. The family loves to meet new people and the location is hidden away down by the river set in tropical vegetation.
Yellow River Peru

136 Followers, 2 Reviews


This is a slice of the real Peru that most tourists don't get to see. This is a family hostel and homestay that shows guests around the farm, roasts coffee with them and is far from the busy tourist groups and organised tours. The family loves to meet new people and the location is hidden away down by the river set in tropical vegetation.
Andrew Bruton

137 Followers, 1 Reviews


Cuzco - Cusco

Tiny little culture bursting Cuzco/Cusco is an inevitable halt for all the Machu Picchu goers. Cuzco is a place I enjoyed on foot the entire day and also a little by night.
Gargi Vishnoi

777 Followers, 84 Reviews


Cusco City Tours - Cusco

Located at an altitude of over 11,000 feet in the heart of the Andes mountains, is the dynamic and historic city of Cusco Peru. Cusco with a population of about 0.4 million is also called the archaeological capital of South America since it is the famed capital of the ancient Inca Empire and it has served as a travelers’ mecca for hundreds of years. Though Cusco was the center of the Inca Empire for are relatively short time, relics and imprints from the great civilization remain to this day. When you visit Cusco, you feel as if you’ve been transported to another dimension of sorts. Perhaps that is partly due to the altitude’s effect on your body and mind. If you are flying here and haven’t yet adjusted to the Andes Mountains, prepare to spend the better part of your first day simply lounging around or lying in bed with altitude sickness. While that seems wholly un-charming, there are natural means by which to ease your symptoms, like chewing coca leaves or drinking coca tea. The baroque main cathedral in the central tourist gathering spot of the Plaza de Armas is one of Cusco’s most impressive architectural structures. But perhaps even more fascinating when it comes to Cusco architecture are the surviving walls from the Inca. These walls were, and are, so strong that the Spanish often chose to simply build on top of them instead of destroying them. As if the stone streets and the city’s “living museum” feel were not enough, seeing these hundreds of years old stone walls as you make your way about town is truly a treat. Cusco Peru is a city that is perfect for travelers since it is a jump-off point for excursions on the Inca trail and to nearby Machu Pichhu. Many people will stop here before heading to Machu Picchu, or to other points of interest located within Peru’s Sacred Valley. Cusco is a busy city, thriving in fact, and traffic can be a hassle to negotiate. Just make sure to politely ask before taking pictures of the local and indigenous people, as well as offer a small and modest monetary gift. The friendly nature and disposition of the indigenous population in Cusco will surely make a mark on your soul that you will carry with you for life. Shopping in Cusco is a joy and you can taste local delicacies like roasted guinea pig. I visited the local bazaar to shop for souvenirs and bought a "pancho" similar to the Indian shawl worn by the local men and women. We travelled to Cusco in the midst of the Inti Rayma or Sun God festival, which is the most important Andean festival. The Inca cultures celebrate this festival from June 16th to 24th (shortest day in the Southern hemisphere). The festival travels from the ancient capital of the Inca Empire, Cusco to the massive fortress of Saqsayhuaman. The festival includes fire and lights to wake the sun god on the shortest day and longest night of the winter. The Sun, the main God of the Inca Civilization was considered to be the creator of all that exists. The festival lasts 9 days of colorful dances and processions, as well as animal sacrifices to ensure a good cropping season. The celebrants fasted for days before the event, refrained from physical pleasures and presented gifts to the Inca, who in return put on a lavish banquet of meat, corn bread, Chicha and coca tea as they prepared to sacrifice llamas to ensure good crops and fertile fields. The dance ritual happened all through the day and night and I soaked in the festivity just like 200 thousand other visitors. It was indeed a heavenly experience.
Arvind Kamath

191 Followers, 6 Reviews


Santa Teresa - Cusco

Santa Teresa is situated 6.5 km northwest of Machu Picchu and is at the axis of several important routes leading to this archaeological center. The people of Santa Teresa have completed the bridge that reconnects Cusco with Machu Picchu, which was completely destroyed in the landslide in 1998 and thereby revived their community. It’s a point where a lot of backpackers head to seek an access to Machu Picchu that is budget friendly.
Stephan

155 Followers, 20 Reviews


Hostal Qolqampata - Cusco

A cute little hostel with amazing view and great hospitality!
Gargi Vishnoi

777 Followers, 84 Reviews


Sacred Valley - Cusco

Most visitors to the Sacred Valley come here for the various Inca sites around. There are however also many pictoresque little villages. Pisac, around 33 kilometers from Cusco, is one of them. Besides visiting the Inca fortress of Intihuatana, the Sunday Market here is worth a visit for locals and tourists alike. It's quite colourful and a great way to interact with the locals, buy some souvenirs and get to drink some chicha. This famous South American drink can be alcoholic or non-alcoholic and the taste greatly varies depending on the fruits and vegetables used. In Cusco, chicha is mostly made out of corn. The best thing is to get some home-made chicha. The places where they offer this, are recognized by a pole with a plastic bag hanging outside the house.
Lydian

220 Followers, 16 Reviews


Sacred Valley of the Incas - Cusco

The Sacred Valley of the Incas is a valley in the Andes. It is also known as Urubamba Valley as it is formed by the Urubamba River. The valley mutely flows through numerous archaeological remains and villages. It encompasses the heartland of the Inca Empire. The Sacred Valley is commendably picturesque and mesmerizing. The beauty of this quaint part of Peru snuggled high in mountains is comparatively unvoiced.
Stephan

155 Followers, 20 Reviews


Ollantaytambo - Cusco

Ollamtamybo, one of the more important sites of the Inca era became the last stop in my Inca trail. I arrived here after walking for 4 days from my living Inca trail. This is where I would take the train to Aguas Caliente for Manchu Picchu and return to Cusco after. I returned to Ollamtamybo, wanting to do a short 2 days in this tiny town. After Manchu Picchu, the wonderful ruins of Ollamtamybo seemed a little underwhelming. While visiting one of the ruins, met a very friendly Peruvian and his son who worked with the archaeological digs in nearby areas. He invited me to his home to look at some of his archaelogical finds. This became the highlight of my trip to this town. The house was a typical mud brick construct with guinea pigs running around the mud oven kitchen. Quite a sight by itself to have dinner running around. He took out some Inca burial artifacts from a serious of cardboard boxes, one of the fascinating finds was a tiny desiccated human baby.Then there were others, adult human skulls. Some had broken cranium, a chilling proof that these were human sacrifices. The non-enlongated skulls showed these human artifacts were not from royalty but of normal descent and hence the Inca sacrificial burials for these mummies were for minor events. Still, the artifacts were fascinating and a great opportunity for a close up glimpse which otherwise be viewed from afar in boxed up windows of a museum.
I Have Travel Lust

199 Followers, 7 Reviews


Aguas Calientes - Cusco

After reaching Aguas Calientes, we need to take a bus ride lasting about 20minutes to reach the ancient site of Machu Pichhu The bus ride itself is spectacular as the narrow track winds its way up the mountainside The scenery is lush cloud forest with great views of the sacred mountain.
Arvind Kamath

191 Followers, 6 Reviews


Hotels in Cusco

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Arvind Kamath Travel Blogger
Arvind Kamath
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