parades & festivals
it seemed like every city we went to in peru, something was always going on. the day we arrived in cusco had the military and top government officials doing something in front of the cathedral! later on that day people in traditional costume and masks were dancing on the main square. the next day some girls were dancing in traditional costume in front of la merced. and then the day we were leaving some huge 'wheels' were being set up with fireworks. it seems cusquenas love to dance and party!
traditionally the huge 'proper' festivals/parades are usually held around easter, or there is the famous 'inti raimi' festival, it seems on any given day something could be going on. after having been in the colca canyon, where people 'parade' in traditional costume for you to take photos for money, here you see authentic costume and parades and you can take photos for free! yay!
i guess ask a local, or your hotel concierge for any up to date happenings.
Tour Operator - Peru Treks and Adventure
Hiking the Inca Trail can now only be done through a licensed tour operator, and if you don't know someone who's done the Inca Trail, picking a tour guide might as well be a crapshoot. My group of 14 friends and I chose - - Peru Treks and Adventure - - http://www.perutreks.com/ - and WE LOVED THEM. ... All through the planning process, they were incredibly helpful in answering my questions, and when we got to Cusco, they came to our hotel and gave us our briefing. For such a large group, we had 2 guides - Washington and Hubert, who were both fabulous. They both spoke English, and were funny, and understanding to our needs (ok, we were slow). At the ruins, along the way and at Machu Picchu they were informative and told us so much - we learned so much from them. The porters on our trip also need to be recognized. They were truly great as well - not only did they carry all our stuff, but they put up our tents, cook delicious meals, and even gave us warm water to wash our hands in! .... I would highly recommend Peru Treks and Adventure if you are thinking about doing the Inca Trail. Not sure if this is the right category for my recommendation, but Peru Treks provided great equipment. It rained on us 2 nights, and our tents were nice and dry. The tents, however are great if you're less than 6 feet tall though. If you're taller, you may hit the sides, or else sleep diagonally.
Take a Horseback Ride in the Sacred Valley
Our horseback ride from Urubamba up past the salt terraces to Maras and Moray was the best adventure of our entire visit to Peru, For a mere $US60 a person, Rancho Casa Hospedaje supplied a non-English-speaking guide (Juan Carlos) to take for a nine-hour ride along the Urubamba River, then up a canyon into the high country, wher a whole new world awaits. It was a world of beautiful fields, snow-capped mountains, flocks of sheep and hard-working farmers (who lack machinery). We only intersected the road for our journey through the town of Maras -- otherwise we were on the same foot/burro paths that the locals use for transiting between towns. We got to see every day Andean life go by.
We saw no other tourists during the entire ride, but we saw plenty of people. Most of them waved. Amazingly, one of the people we saw wa Juan Carlos' uncle, who was walking somewhere with his aunt and a baby.
Despite the fact that Juan Carlos spoke no English, we communicated well enough in Spanish to learn a few things from him. He also taught us the word "cuidado" for "be careful", which is important when a pricker bush is heading rapidly toward your face.
Train to Macchu Picchu
Please make certain that you have your train tickets to Macchu Picchu You should plan on purchasing the tickets well in advance of your planned trip to Macchu Picchu I have attached copies of the latest train schedule and costs depending on type of train
Travel agencies generally try to make tourists take the Vistadome train The backpacker is fine for most travelers the Local train is not available to foreigners It is only for Peruvians
I have attached three photos of the train schedule and costs Please use them to make your choices
Its a wonderful trip Try and spend at least one night at Aguas Calientes
This Italian restaurant is right next to the plaza de Armas, so if you're around the area and don't know what to eat, want to go for something safe, this would be the best option. Actually I wasn't looking forward to going to an Italian restaurant in Cusco, since I love Peruvian food, but I must say this place is delicious! They have many different choices of pasta, pizzas, and so on. The service was ok in general, though we did have to wait long for some of the dishes.