I’m living in Denmark - flat as a pancake – and Cusco is located 3,400 meters above sea level... Therefore I was a little worried about the altitude sickness when I arrived to Cusco. However, I found some advices on the internet how to avoid ‘soroche’, and they – besides a little shortness of breath – seemed to be working for me.
RELAX! Take a rest before exploring the city, and slow down when walking the steep streets of Cusco... DRINK PLENTY! Dehydration occurs rapidly at high altitude, drink a lot of fluids (not alcohol)... EAT LIGHTLY! There are many excellent soups or other light dishes...
This is just a few simple advices I followed the first couple of days in Cusco, and that might have helped me during my stay in the Andes Mountains. I hope you will be fine if you are going to Cusco, but if the altitude sickness hits you, you could consider to go to the nearby Sacred Valley, which is located lower than Cusco...
If you stay in Cusco for 3 days or more, you should get this Boleto Turístico ""tourist ticket" to visit around Cusco. It is the best deal in town to go around.
They also offer student discount, just bring a valid student ID .
Valid for 3 days or 10 days , depends which one you need.
The ticket will give you access to :
•Museo de Arte Religioso
•Iglesia de San Blas
•Monasterio y Museo de Arte de Santa Catalina
•Municipal Palace Museum (in the Palacio Municipal, Santa Teresa s/n; tel. 084/223-511)
•Museo Arqueológico del Qoricancha
•Museo Histórico Regional
•The Inca ruins of Sacsayhuamán, Q'enko, Puca Pucara, Tambomachay, Pisac,
Ollantaytambo, Chinchero, Pikillacta, and Tipón
Fondest memory: Buy at the office on 79-A Av. Sol
There are some nice restaurants in Cusco and many have a sales person outside to show you the menu and try to sell you the idea of going in.
You can always bargain for free drinks to be included like Pisco Sour or Liminade
Also, always ask if they have a Touristic Menu or Menu economical , it is often a very good value, we had some nice dinner for 15 to 20 soles at nice restaurants there.
There was a nice little souvenir shopping arcade near the hotel where I stayed at in Cusco - the hotel was part of the vacation package and I forgot its name already, but I remember it was near the roar of a nearby creek (strong current).
I decided to go around the stalls and vendors were calling me into their shops. I went into an old man's shop and went through the souvenirs, went at the back of his store and saw this nice painting hanging on the wall. I asked him If could buy it, and he hesitated a little bit (I guess he liked the pic himself) but eventually sold it to me. He said US$80 and I thought that was really cheap for a nice oil painting of the Blessed Virgin with the sacred infant Jesus and Joseph and the angel Gabriel. I paid in US$.
He wrapped it up so carefully for me since I did not want him to remove it from its old picture frame. I checked it in at the airport and lo and behold, it came out intact! Thank you sir! But I did give him an extra $20 when I saw that he wrapped it up so well with cardboards and lots of tape...nice old man.
There's a lot of religious paintings in Peru and I wanted to buy one with the Last Supper where the guinea pig is on the table, but I did not see any (except for the original famous Last Supper which I think was at the Cathedral). So, when in Peru, look for these nicely done paintings and buy stuff (not only to help their economy) but also because they have really good artists and craftsmen!
Me gusto el hostal qorichaska en Cusco Peru, donde pude estar en un ambiente tranquilo y ademas de vistar todo el CUsco con la agencia de Viajes Mundo Inka
Fondest memory: ME gusto la ciudad de CUsco y visitar todos sus atractivos
Here are some suggestions to help you with altitude sickness:
*Limit activities on your first day
*Take a nap and give yourself plenty of rest before tackling tourist-related activities
*Limit your food intake
*Avoid eating rich foods (it will only add to your misery)
*Chew on coca leaves
*Eat coca candies
*Drink mate de coca
Favorite thing: While traveling in Cusco, my mother got really sick. Before traveling, she had a cough. After we were in Cusco (and she pushed herself to walk around Machu Picchu), her chest starting feeling worse. While in Cusco, we had to go to a private health care facility on a Sunday morning. We had some of the fastest and least expensive health care ever. She got diagnosed with pneumonia, a slight case of high altitude sickness, and giardia (probably from using tap water for teeth brushing). She had all her tests done quickly and safely. She got all her medicine cheaply. Within two days, we were able to travel back to Lima and on home to the States. It's strange to put this as a favorite thing about Cusco, but it comforted me to know that we were able to get excellent medical treatment when one's nightmare comes true.
We wanted to eat guinea pig, to experience the custom, but without having to face a barbequed rodent on our plate.
We went to Sumaq Misky- a restaurant in one of the market alleys off the main square.
They offer aromatic crispy guinea pig (which we had- delicious!), guinea pig tikka and other such delights that are unrecognisable as the cuddly creature it is!
This one is taken from the Corcancha site, right by the church. Here is how it works: You take pictures without moving too much, from left to right. Don't move the camera vertically, and after you taken picture#1, move to the right slightly so the right sided scene from Pic#1 is still in the frame for pic#2. Continue for 4 or 5 frames. Then you find a panorama making program and it will "stitch" the pictures together for you. Cool uh?
Fondest memory: The activities that were free were the most enjoyable, and also the ones that were not part of a guide book but self-discovered were the best.
Favorite thing: There is a lot of street dogs in Cuzco. Most of them are really skinny because no one feed them. They cross the streets in high traffic and fight with other dogs. I felt that often those dogs were scared of humans, likely because they were treated poorly. If you have food on you, or leftovers from dinner, you will make a dog happy...
Favorite thing: The boleto touristico is a ticket that you purchase in order to enter to several museums/archeological sites in Cuzco and also in the Sacred Valley. For the cost of 70 Soles, you will be granted admission to 16 sites. Some of the time you do not have the choice to buy it to visit the sites, but you have the options to buy a partial ticket (for the Sacred Valley only, or for Cuzco only) and students get a discount providing they have a card with them. The boleto is valid for 10 days, and the visitting hours of each site, along with address and directions is indicated behind the ticket.
Favorite thing: The weather in Cusco during February can be quite wet. After all, it is the rainy season. Often, your days will be marked with showers, drizzle and even some quite heavy rain, but you''ll also get clear skies and sun. Since Cusco has plenty of museums and indoor activities, the weather should not ruin your visit. However, whenever the sun bursts out, you might want to alter your plans to enjoy the beautiful and interesting streets and plazas of Cusco -- and save that planned museum visit until the next rainy patch. Many of the localss will take advantage of nice weather, so you should too -- if for no other reason than to watch them.
Spain left another legacy in Peru, that related with religion and the infamous Inquisition Court. There is a little museum about that by the Cathedral, but it was closed when I was there, under restauration.
But you could see this significant stone coat of arms in the facade...
The present city of Cuzco was built on the basis of the Inca capital. So, most of the existing buildings were destroyed but the walls were kept to built on them the new Spanish buildings.
You can still see the original inca walls in most of the historical building in central Cuzco.
This one is in the Museum of Religious Art.
Fondest memory: In the middle of the right wall you can find the famous "stone of the 12 angles". You will find it easily, as there are normally people disguised like Incas there, ready for a photo with tourists.
In the facade of Cuzco's cathedral I found this beautiful marble coat of arms with the castle and the lion (Castilla & Leon, reigns of Spain).
Till 1821, when Independence was declared, Spain had a great influence in Peru's life.
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