Cusco, Peru – Impressions

Cusco in Southern Peru is the historic capital of the Incan Empire from its establishment in the 13th century until the Spanish invaded in 1534 and sacked the place, destroying many of the Incan buildings so they could create their own city in its place. There are still a few Incan structures left, some temples and some think stone walls. Cusco was supposed to have been built in the shame of a Puma, a sacred animal of the Incans.

Like La Paz, Cusco is build in a bowl, although it’s nowhere near as large, only one or two of the bowl walls have housing built on them. And unlike La Paz, which is totally built using clay bricks, there’s not a single clay brick house in sight.

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Cusco is high in the Andes at around 3400m above sea level and has a lot of old spanish architecture dotted around the city…

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There are also many plazas around the central city and most have fountains. There are more fountains here than any other single place I’ve been to in South America. There are also more tourists here in Cusco than I’ve seen in one place elsewhere in South America. There’s good reason for this, Cusco is 71km away from the number one tourist site in South America; Machu Picchu. When walking around the city, there are groups of tourists 20-30 thick walking everywhere.

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There are quieter places in Cusco, many of the roads around the city central are cobbled and rather quaint.

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Then, while in Peru, one must try one of the delicacies, deep fried Guinea Pig. I compare it to dark duck meat, and while it was nice, it’s not something I’ll be eating all the time.

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On the streets of Cusco, around the central plazas, are lots of hawkers trying to sell different tours and the like. they go along with the many, many tour operators stores everywhere. But tours aren’t the only thing they’re hawking, they also push massages, suggesting you’ll need one after climbing to Machu Picchu.

My next stop is a small town called Aguas Caliente, literally ‘hot waters’ or hot pools. It’s only 4km from Machu Picchu and other than the Inca Trail is the only way to get there. My aim is to be up at 4am to make the climb to the hidden city to be there at sunrise and to miss most of the tourists. And while I love to hike, I plan to not do the Inca Trail as I call it Disneyland, there are just so many people walking it that it goes against why I like to hike, the serenity and quiet of nature. There are plenty of other places in Peru to hike and I have a couple planned.

The Lone Trail Wanderer

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