The Natural History Museum is located at Plaza de Armas. The entrance is a little hard to find, but is hidden in a courtyard to the right of ‘La Compania’...
The museum is part of the University of Cusco, and displays stuffed animals. The condor next to the ticket desk is my favorite, but the museum also has a huge collection of snakes. However, most of the stuffed animals are in a really bad condition and this will never be a top attraction in Cusco!
My travel partner was begged by one of the shoe shiner there to do the service for 1 sol
He has a soft heart so he let him shine his hiking boots. He was surprised a 1 sol job took so long and the shoe shiner started to talk to him how to protect shoes and explain shoe polishes....Then at the end , the shoe shiner said The job now is 20 soles
20 soles !! It started at 1 sol
We protested & told him we did not ask for a 20 soles job even he did a good job.
As we are not really mean people and it was not a lot of money, we offer to give him just USD $2. The shoe shiner was pissed and he was like saying we cheated him
Wow....can't believe it, the shoe shiner job price fluctuate greater than the stock market ....
I know this information is late for your previous question, but will hopefully be of some use for future searchers. You should pay no more than s/. 15 ($5) to get from Cusco to Ollantaytambo. That would be the price on a private van with no more than 6 other passengers, or you could find a taxi to take you for the same price. I took a 3 hour van ride from the beach back to Arequipa for the same price. Tourist often get ripped off if you go through hotels or agencies. There is a street off Sol Ave. called Rosaria. If you walk 3 blocks to the west, you can find services taking you for that much. You could even hop in a combi if adventurous for s/.3. Travel is cheap, don't get taken advantage of.
You would think a big tourist town like Cusco would have plenty of tourist traps but there are not very many or any for that matter. Cusco is a very genuine town full of history and you have little reason to worry about being ripped off.
Cuando llegas a Cuzco compras el Billete Turístico Unificado ( 70 Soles y válido para una semana ) pensando que con él ya puedes tener acceso a todos los museos y sitios interesantes de Cuzco y sus alrededores . Tu sorpresa empieza cuando te das cuenta que en muchos sitios arqueológicos , museos e iglesias muy importantes no lo aceptan y tienes que pagar de nuevoWhen you reach Cuzco you buy the Unified Tourist Ticket ( 70 Soles and is valid for one week ) thinking that with it you may have access to all the museums and interesting sites of Cuzco and surroundings . Your surprise starts when you notice that in many important arqueological sites , museums and churches is not accepted and you must pay again
Unique Suggestions: Tendrás que asumirlo , sacar el billete y luego seguir pagando porque quedan fuera sitios realmente interesantes ( Catedral , Compañía ,Museo de arte Religioso , Moray , Machu Picchu...)
Por lo menos lo conoces por adelantado
You must live with it as you must take the ticket and keep on paying because are not included many places really interesting ( Catedral , Compañía ,Museo de arte Religioso , Moray , Machu Picchu...)
At least you know it beforehand
While its true that any tour is going to be cheaper if booked in Cusco itself rather in your country of origin, beware where you go. Always ask for credentials and if possible got to operators directly (they are the ones doing the actual tours). As a rule of thumb, I´ll diuscard any agency in the Main Square sharing room w/other shops. Also ask for everything to be in written form, from the pick up, to accomodation (as to how many per tent and where are the campsites), to food, to people coming w/you, which trail are you doing (there are many "Inka Trails" but only one that cuts accross 5 ruins and goes straight into MachuPicchu) etc...
The little boys will look at your shoes and even if they were done the day before, they will suggest you need one, and say "Only 1 sole!". Then in the middle of it, will start using another product then announce this is for preventing the wax from staining your pants, and now the price raise to 10 soles. Then you need to barter for less because you feel you've just been ripped off. Then of course a little buddy will approach you at a vulnerable time to sell you postcards or art work. They will also ask you for coins for your country "for their collection".
Unique Suggestions: It's a great opportunity to talk to the little guy and get to know him.
Fun Alternatives: Instead of giving in to the people that want money for every little service, go to the market and buy a dozen of oranges and distribute them among the kids. It will feel much better than buying stuff you don't need and it will give vitamins to the kids that need them most.
Everyone will tell you "buy the big Tourist ticket, it will save you so much money over paying the entrance fees to every destination." This is true, but only if you are acctually going to take the time to explore Cuzco the way it deserves to be explored, Most, Including me, do not before heading off to Machu Picchu or Puno.
Unique Suggestions: If you are just talking about 1 days exploring you should go after the smaller 4 site ticket. It is 40 Soles, less than half the cost of the big one and includes, Saqsaywaman, Q'enqo, Pukapukara, and Tambomachay. All cool places thay will give you a feal for Cuzco's outskirts if you don't have the time to see them all.
First time I had breakfast in Cuzco, it was really early in the morning, like 7 or so. It was all closed, so I wandered around the Plaza de Armas and suddenly I saw this old nice cafe by the arcade, and sat there for a breakfast.
They have different fix breakfast like "Cuzco", "American", "Continental"... They are all about 9-10 soles (3-4 USD) so I thought, well, like in Spain.
BUT the next morning I went for breakfast to the Central Market (see Restaurants tips) and had THE SAME BREAKFAST for just 2 soles (less than 1 USD!)
While it is true that many people in Cusco and the Sacred Valley still wear clothes that would be considered traditional by American standards, not everything you see will be authentic. Sadly, most of the people dressed in the elaborate, colorful old clothing are just wearing it to make money from photographers eager to take their picture. This was somewhat dissillusioning, especially when I realized that many of the best photos I saw in tourist literature or travel books probably were staged, paid for events. You know those pictures of the cute little girl in colorful clothes holding a baby llama? It's most likely staged.
Unique Suggestions: Still, some of the children are beautiful in their colorful attire and certainly worhy of a photo. So, we decided only to take pictures of people who did justice to their traditional clothes, kept them clean and acted politely. This is BY FAR a minority of those wishing to be photgraphed. And, for the best of these, we would give more than the one sole asking price. One such person was this girl to the left, who posed beautifully against a backdrop of mountains.
Fun Alternatives: If you don't want to take any such pictures, you can get people dressed as they normally would in the PIsac farmers's market and at the outside friday happy hour in Aguas cAlientes (see our Machu Picchu page).
The beautiful and shiny "alpaca hair" products (rugs, jumpers, sweaters etc) are NOT 100% alpaca hair. In its natural form, alpaca hair is a dull colour, not the vibrant colours like the ones you see in the picture below. They are usually made up of a small percentage of alpaca hair, mixed with acrylic to give it the eye-catching colour. We were told by our fantastic tour guide that these won't last long, in terms of their initial attractiveness. They also won't be as warm as 100% alpaca wool.
Unique Suggestions: I bought two very nice 100% baby alpaca hair pashimas on the tourist train on the way back from Machu Picchu for around US$60 each. If you prefer not to buy then, the shop in the airport has some very nice ones too, for a slightly higher price (starting at around US$90).
You will encounter a lot of locals dressed in local garb, walking alongside these beasts of burden, stop you on the street to take a picture of them. Well, jsut remember that they arent interested in being in the picture, but rather your money. If that shot of the llama or alpaca is that important to you, make sure you will not be hassled once the picture is taken.
Unique Suggestions: Take a shot from afar like I did, or make sure you negotiate the price of the shot.
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