Information for Cusco, Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu

CUSCO

It was declared Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 1983, and is the oldest inhabited city on the continent, so to say that there is much to see and do is not random. It is a city full of history and the point of starting to enter one of the most prominent pre-Columbian cultures. I loved it.

WHAT TO SEE IN CUSCO

Cusco is a city for walking, and walking a bit more. To me, what I liked the most was:

  1. * Plaza de Armas and surroundings: in Inca times was called Huacaypata (a meeting place in Quechua). It was where Francisco Pizarro proclaimed the conquest of Cusco and where they executed Tupac Amaru II. The opposite is the Cathedral, which did build on the palace of the Inca Wiracocha. Inside, paintings of the Cusco school (one especially stands out: “The Last Supper,” Peruvian version: with a cuy) and the Cristo mestiza version: brown and with an indigenous skirt. You can enter free during Mass, from 6 to 9 am (then costs S / 25). There is also the Church of the Company of Jesus, built-in 1571 on the palace of the Inca Huayna Capac.

On Av del Sol, a plaque on the floor shows the divisions of the Inca empire’s four suyos (provinces)

* San Blas: it is a bohemian neighborhood and artisan, you can find everything, but it is much quieter than the center, with cobbled streets, narrow and steep, lovely views of the city (from the square or some bars, for example) An air more. bohemian =)

* San Cristobal: it is a church (which implies occurring seen upon a hill from Plaza de Armas), but the beautiful thing from there is the view, especially at sunset, when the sky turns blue, and the little lights begin to catch.

* Central Market San Pedro: If they come from Bolivia or already know what the markets are, not so much attention, but I have a fascination for them, so I have gone to a thousand. Here you can try typical dishes, buy food and see Andean products to purchase souvenirs.

* Qoricancha: it was the temple to the sun, and the chronicles tell that its walls implied covered with gold sheets. In 1534 the church and the Dominican convent were built. Price: S / 10 adults, S / 5 students (S / 15 and S / 7 if you also visit the Convent of Santa Catalina, an area where the best women lived in the Inca era).

* Saqsaywaman, Q’enqo, Puca Pucara, and Tambomachay (city tour): tourism agencies sell them to these four (along with Koricancha, optional enter) in the same package, called city tour, for S / 25. Saqsaywamán was a temple dedicated to the Andean cosmology. Every June 24 is where the Inti Raymi, or Festival of the Sun, is celebrated (quite a tourist of passage). The size of its stones is enormous, and I think it was the place that made me think about how these people worked. Q’enqo, on the other hand, was a place of sacrifice; Puca Pucara was an administrative and customs center, while Tambomachay was a place of gathering and sheltering, and bathing. To take this tour on your own, take a bus or minibus to Pisaq, and ask to be dropped off at Tambomachay. From there, it is 11km downhill back to Cusco. But, Saqsaywaman is the only one worth it and is very easy to arrive from Plaza de Armas (in 20min is up).

At the beginning of the century, Cusco did portray by Martin Chambi, one of the best Peruvian photographers.

PRICES

The change, on 10/18, is at 1USD = 3.25 soles (S /). Many places accept debit card

 * Accommodation

  • Dorm, from S / 10 the bed (you have to look for, there are many prices)
  • Double with private bathroom: in a hotel, 40USD
  • CouchSurfing works, although it is not as easy as on other sides.

 * Food

In the local markets and restaurants, you can get lunch for S / 3 or 4 (be it chicken, meat, or fish). The tourist menus are around S / 15, although there are S / 8 and S / 25 (with entrance, second, dessert, and drink).

Some top-rated foods on these sides are the chicharrón (fried pork), the dry meat or chicken, the cuy baked, the alpaca in different forms, the potatoes, the huancahína (a sauce based on cheese, cookies, and chili), The chili pepper, the stuffed rocoto (a hot pepper stuffed with vegetables, fried), the cause and some others, etc. Many vegetarian (and even vegan) places have good food and reasonable prices.

TOURIST TICKET

The tourist ticket is a ticket for access to several museums and archaeological sites of Cusco and its surroundings. The issue is that if you buy it whole, it lasts ten days, while the circuits last only 1 or 2 days each, and if one wants to do things independently. It does not give the time (for example, the circuit ticket Of the Sacred Valley has a validity of 2 days, but for example, I made one city per day, not correlatives, so after all, you almost have to buy it whole). For more information, you can check their page. It does buy at Cosituc (Av. Del Sol 103) or archaeological sites.

There are places that, although they do mark on the ticket, I was not asked, as in Chinchero and Moray.

IMPORTANT – MORE DATA

* The height! Cusco is at 3400msnm, so it is very likely to suffer altitude sickness when arriving from a low place. In addition, being a city full of ups and downs, it costs to acclimatize even if you are in good physical condition. Usually, it takes 1 or 2 days to get used to the height, and it is advisable to eat light, avoid alcohol and drink plenty of water. I never needed them, but they say that the sorochi pill (for altitude sickness) is very effective. They are obtained at any pharmacy by S / 18 or 19. The coca mate (i.e., a tea) also helps with headaches and tummy that can give the height.

* Climate (or when to go): Cusco is cold and dry, the same as before. In the rainy season, the weather goes crazy, and it can happen from dawn to rain, to get out the sun and back to cloud over at night. February is the rainiest month (so much that they close the Inca Trail). The cold is intense from May to August (high season), even with frost at night, but the days are heavenly. It is best to dress in layers (t-shirt, diver, and windbreaker) since at noon, in general, it is warmer, and at night always refreshes (even for polar in summer).

SURROUNDINGS OF CUSCO: Sacred Valley

* Pisaq: It is a beautiful town, with narrow streets and motorbikes circulating, juggling not to get into the middle channel of each road. It is well known for its market, which on Sundays is more memorable. However, for me, it takes charm to the square and covers the whole view. On Sundays, a mass is also held in Quechua at 11 am.

* Chinchero: its market is, for us, much more authentic than that of Pisaq. People sell on the floor; the galleries cover roofs; women wear traditional costumes and weave their yarn. It is much more formal and local; people buy fruits and vegetables, and are few tourists. Further up, there is a church of Tupac Inca Yupanqui’s real estate remains.

* Urubamba: The town with less charm, in my opinion, has much more city-style and little Inca structure.

* Ollantaytambo: A place that you will love. The only Inca town that is preserved almost int to walk its alleyways without the sidewalk to see their houses still standing that are inhabited. The morning light sticking among the cobblestones is beautiful. There are the most frequent and cheap trains (because they are still expensive) to Aguas Calientes. There is an archaeological zone on the mountainside, with a cultivation area, religious area, administrative part, and military.

Take a minibus in Pavitos or Grau (Cusco). The ticket price varies according to the vehicle and the destination (between S / 4 and S / 10, 40min).

* Maras and Moray: Moray was an area of agricultural experimentation, where what can observe 04 concentric terraces. In the salt pans of Maras, there are more than 400 wells where salt does extract from Inca times.

South Valley

This tour touts Tipón, Pikallacta, and Andahuaylillas. Each one corresponds to a different period: Tipón is a center of Inca hydraulic experimentation, Pikillacta is a pre-Inca city (SVI to SIX) where 20,000 people lived and were more extensive than Machu Picchu, and Andahuaylillas is a small town where there is a Church built on an Inca wayra (ceremonial center), with Roman murals, baroque altar and Arab roofs.

Trekkings

Travel from Cusco: Huchuy Qosqo (1 day, you have to get to Lamay and from there walk, 20min + 3hs up), Choquequirao (4 days minimum, I know you can camp in the complex Archaeological), Apu Pachatusan, Ausangante. Find out

MACHU PICCHU AND HOT WATERS

Machu Picchu has several versions of what it was: the residence of the rest of Pachacútec, aristocratic fortress, university, ceremonial sanctuary. I think they still do not agree. Machu Picchu remained hidden until 1911 because it was suddenly abandoned, and the jungle-covered it. It does say that the Incas destroyed the access roads (besides being a place only for the upper castes, only a select group knew The existence of the site). In 1983, it was declared Natural and Cultural Patrimony of Humanity by UNESCO.

The best thing for me is to arrive the day before Aguas Calientes and take advantage of the whole day (especially if you climb Wayna Picchu or Mountain Macchu Picchu). At noon is when more people are there, so it’s good to take advantage of stopping for a while and having lunch (and keep taking photos and knowing the place in the afternoon, when not all tours fill the site).

To sleep in Aguas Calientes: there are options for all: camping near the entrance to the ruins (15 soles the tent), through hostels (with my mom we paid 50 soles for a private room with a private) bathroom between the two) to hotels five stars.

ROUTES: HOW TO GET TO MACHU PICCHU

– Inca Trail: It is one of the most famous trekking in the world, and do not tire of putting it on the list of “10 things to do before you die”, “10 trekking you must do”, “10 best trekking World “and that kind of rakings. Several years ago, the government of Peru realized the deterioration of the road and that reducing the number of people per day and increasing the price of the route could preserve the way better and obtain more profits. So, today there is room for 500 people per day (including guides and porters), so you have to book in advance (from 2 to 6 months depending on whether it is a low season or high season). And it lasts four days. Keep in mind that from November to March, it rains a lot, and in February, they close it for maintenance (in addition, it is the month of more rain).

– Train: The most economical (with more options) is the Expedition from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes, with Peru Rail. The cheapest ticket, departing on the first-morning train (5:30 am) and returning on the day’s last day (9:30 pm), costs 90 USD. There are frequent departures during the day. Inca Rail also goes.

– The alternative route I: There is a much cheaper route than any of the above, known as the hydroelectric road. It makes the Cusco-Santa María-Santa Teresa-Hidroeléctrica section in different vehicles and then to Aguas Calientes. The trip in total is long, so it is advisable to leave early from Cusco (type 5 am) to arrive late at night at Aguas Calientes. This way, three days (one out, one in Machu Picchu, and one back) are needed – ideally. You can also get to Santa Maria from Ollantaytambo (ask next to the market, where the minibusses leave)

From Cusco, buses leave from the terminal Quillabamba; The first stretch (Cusco-Santa Maria) takes about 4-5 hours and costs 15 soles. Once in Santa Maria, only vans and taxis depart to Santa Teresa for ten soles (40 minutes). Once there, next to the market, there are shared taxis that for five soles go to hydroelectric. Following the train’s tracks, the walk begins, which lasts about 2-3 hours. As you can see, getting to Aguas Calientes takes all day between trips, transfers, and waiting.

Some buses go directly from Cusco between S / 70 to 90. You have to haggle; around Plaza de Armas, several agencies sell them. The theme with this direct bus is that you have to go and return on the same day, which forces you to leave Cusco at 3 am and at 3 pm be back in the hydroelectric to take the bus back. In my opinion, too fast for a place that deserves its time.

Necessary: carry only the essentials (leave the rest at the hostel in Cusco

– Alternative route II: from Ollantaytambo, you take another bus that leaves you at K. Fromrom there, it is almost 30 km walking (approximately 8 hours) to the side of the train tracks until arriving at Aguas Calientes. You can take the alternative route I, which only walks 2-3 hours to Hidroeléctrica.

ENTRY TO MACHU PICCHU

The entrance does buy in Cusco in the Office in Av. De la Cultura 238. Suppose you are only going to visit Machu Picchu. In that case, you can buy it at the last moment, but if you want to climb one of the other mountains (Wayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain), at least a week before they have to buy it (I tried to buy Wayna Picchu for the 11 am shift, and it was already full a week before). You can also buy online; there are several sites.

For both Wayna Picchu (the high and pointed mountain that is seen back in the famous photo of Machu Picchu) and Mountain Machu Picchu (facing Wayna Picchu), you have to pay to enter; There are two shifts (7 am and 10 am), each for 200 people. You can only climb one of the two mountains. It takes 1-1 1 / 2h to climb Wayna Picchu and 2hs to climb Machu Picchu Mountain (less steep, but longer the way).

IMPORTANT 1: The entrance to Machu Picchu lasts only ONE DAY. Therefore, if they want to go for two days, they have to buy two tickets. It does forbid to camp in ruins.

HOW TO UPLOAD MACHU PICCHU

Machu Picchu is open from 6 am to 5.30 pm. You must show the document ticket and the student card if applicable; You can enter and exit (for example, the bathrooms are outside, S / 1) showing the entrance ticket.

To climb, you can take the bus (9.5 USD, 20min) or walk up the stairs (2:30 pm). The ticket for the bus does buy in the ticket office or several places in Cusco. The first bus leaves at 5:30 am; If you want to get there first, go to 4:30 am to queue. It fills up (anyway, there are no significant differences if one arrives on the first or fifth bus). The same: bus (another 9,5 USD, 20min) or by the pedestrian path (1: 30h, free); the climb is hard, long, and steep, so consider this (and your age and physical condition) before doing so (significantly if you will climb the Wayna Picchu afterward).

Eating at Machu Picchu is, as you can imagine, very expensive. A sandwich costs 24 soles, little water, and eight soles. Better, take the sandwiches, cookies, fruits, nuts. And lots of water. You can not eat in ruins (yes, outside before the entrance are-enter without problems).

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