- Hiking / Trekking
- Place or Religious Monument
- Archaeological Site
- Castle and fortress
- Place or Historical Monument
- Unesco World Heritage
If you like markets as much as I do, then get out and head to the San Pedro Market! On my first visit, I spent 2 hours trying everything and chatting away with stall holders. They were really welcoming and happy to answer all my questions - in Spanish, of course!
My many interesting encounters included fortune tellers, coca leaf readers and traditional healers who prepared a delicious juice made from...frogs! Apparently its used to alleviate mental problems! For the less adventurous amongst you, there is also an aisle that sells regional chocolate and coffee. You can buy bars of cacao and make up your own, yummy hot chocolate. You can also take them home from your trip to Peru and spend an evening wishing you were back in the Andes.
Apart from appealing to the food-lover in me, the town of Cuzco is an orderly place that boasts some amazing architecture. And it goes without saying that this is the place for visitors interested in the Incas. The town has a rich cultural heritage, several museums, archaeological sites, frequent shows and churches, all well worth your time.
Perched 3,300 metres above sea level, Cusco is an open book which tells you about the riches of Peru's history and culture. The architecture, the stones, the lanes, the atmosphere...it's great to stroll about and explore all the Peruvian art shops.
I was lucky enough to visit this town during June, 24th June to be precise, during the festival of Inti Raimi, a celebration of the sun. On that day the whole of Cusco parties. There are parades with Inca costumes and the lanes heave with street sellers offering souvenirs, local food such as roasted guinea pig or Chicha to slake your thirst.
The parades head for the heights, towards the Sacsaywaman fortress. There is music, scents, colours and fun - the perfect cocktail to help you explore one of the most important festivals in the country and for meeting the locals.
The Plaza de Armas is magnificent, certainly one of the most beautiful in South America. It's surroundings are unavoidable, but don't hesitate to go off to explore the town and wander the little paved streets with their gentle ambiance. Climb up a little, the view is fantastic. Take your time, lose yourself, you'll find a great little restaurant somewhere off the beaten track and leave delighted.
Cusco remains a lovely place to visit despite the hordes of tourists that sometimes bump into each other! I still picture a very gentle town where life is good, full of colour, everything is a on human scale and it's pleasant to wander about. Its not surprising therefore to want to stay there a little longer than planned. So set off on an adventure. Fear not, the town is safe enough! With its mixture of Inca and Andean cultures, fans of old stone and history will be delighted. There are lots of museums here. After all, it's a Unesco world heritage site!
You'll have understood by now that at Cusco, there is something for all tastes. Without forgetting that it's here that you get ready for your trek to Machu Picchu or your visit to the Valley of the Incas. All in all unmissable...
Just one little point: as in all tourist towns, it's best to negotiate prices where you can, for taxis etc.