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Cusco , often spelled Cuzco , is a city in southeastern Peru, near the Urubamba Valley of the Andes mountain range. It is the capital of the Cusco Region as well as the Cusco Province. In 2013, the city had a population of 435,114. Located on the eastern end of the Knot of Cuzco, its elevation is around 3,400 m (11,200 ft).
The site was the historic capital of the Inca Empire from the 13th until the 16th century Spanish conquest. In 1983 Cusco was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. It has become a major tourist destination, hosting nearly 2 million visitors a year. The Constitution of Peru designates it as the Historical Capital of Peru.
|POPULATION :||• Total 435,114|
• Estimate (2015) 427,218
|TIME ZONE :||• Time zone PET (UTC-5)|
• Summer (DST) PET (UTC-5)
|AREA :||385.1 km2 (148.7 sq mi)|
|ELEVATION :||3,399 m (11,152 ft)|
|COORDINATES :||13°31′30″S 71°58′20″W|
|SEX RATIO :|
|AREA CODE :||84|
|POSTAL CODE :|
|DIALING CODE :||+51 84|
Cuzco or Cusco(Qosqo in Quechua,Cuzco in Spanish), located in the Southern Sierras, is a fascinating city that was the capital of the Inca Empire. Cuzco is a Unesco World Heritage Site and is one of Peru's most visited cities as it is the largest and most comfortable city from which tourists can begin visits to Machu Picchu, the Sacred Valley of the Incas, and other Inca sites in the region.
Cuzco is a beautiful city with well preserved colonial architecture, evidence of a rich and complex history. The city itself represents the center of indigenous Quechua culture in the Andes, and by merely walking the streets one sees the layers of history. Spanish colonial buildings erected directly atop Inca walls line the square, while the modern tourist nightlife flourishes in their midst.
The city is surrounded by a number of ruins, the most impressive being Sacsayhuaman, the site of the 1536 battle in which dozens of Pizarro's men charged uphill to battle the forces of the Inca.
Nowadays, Cuzco is known for its indigenous population—often seen on the streets in traditional clothing—and its substantial tourist-fueled night life.
At 3,400 m above sea level, altitude sickness (soroche) can be a problem.Altitude sickness tends to sneak up on you and although its symptoms may not be apparent at first, it has the potential to develop into something extremely dangerous.
Machu Picchu is one of the most popular tourist attraction in Latin America, so prices are raising every year.
More information on Cuzco is available from the official Tourist Office:
- Directur, Portal Blankets 117 (near the Plaza de Armas), .
The Killke people occupied the region from 900 to 1200, prior to the arrival of the Inca in the 13th century. Carbon-14 dating of Saksaywaman, the walled complex outside Cusco, established that Killke constructed the fortress about 1100. The Inca later expanded and occupied the complex in the 13th century. On 13 March 2008, archaeologists discovered the ruins of an ancient temple, roadway and aqueduct system at Saksaywaman. The temple covers some 2,700 square feet (250 square meters) and contains 11 rooms thought to have held idols and mummies, establishing its religious purpose. Together with the results of excavations in 2007, when another temple was found at the edge of the fortress, this indicates a longtime religious as well as military use of the facility.
Cusco was long an important center of indigenous peoples. It was the capital of the Inca Empire (13th century-1532). Many believe that the city was planned as an effigy in the shape of a puma, a sacred animal. How Cusco was specifically built, or how its large stones were quarried and transported to the site remain undetermined. Under the Inca, the city had two sectors: the urin and hanan. Each was divided to encompass two of the four provinces, Chinchasuyu (NW), Antisuyu (NE), Kuntisuyu (SW) and Qullasuyu (SE). A road led from each of quarter to the corresponding quarter of the empire.
Each local leader was required to build a house in the city and live part of the year in Cusco, restricted to the quarter that corresponded to the quarter in which he held territory. After the rule of Pachacuti, when an Inca died, his title went to one son and his property was given to a corporation controlled by his other relatives (split inheritance). Each title holder had to build a new house and add new lands to the empire, in order to own land for his family to keep after his death.
According to Inca legend, the city was rebuilt by Sapa Inca Pachacuti, the man who transformed the Kingdom of Cuzco from a sleepy city-state into the vast empire of Tawantinsuyu. Archaeological evidence, however, points to a slower, more organic growth of the city beginning before Pachacuti. The city was constructed according to a definite plan in which two rivers were channeled around the city. Archaeologists have suggested that this city plan was replicated at other sites.
The city fell to the sphere of Huáscar during the Inca Civil War after the death of Huayna Capac in 1527. It was captured by the generals of Atahualpa in April 1532 in the Battle of Quipaipan. Nineteen months later, Spanish explorers invaded the city and gained control because of their arms and horses, employing superior military technology.
After the Spanish invasion
The first three Spaniards arrived in the city in May 1533, after the Battle of Cajamarca, collecting for Atahualpa's Ransom Room. On 15 November 1533 Francisco Pizarro officially arrived in Cusco. "The capital of the Incas...astonished the Spaniards by the beauty of its edifices, the length and regularity of its streets." The great square was surrounded by several palaces, since "each sovereign built a new palace for himself." "The delicacy of the stone work excelled" that of the Spaniards'. The fortress had three parapets and was composed of "heavy masses of rock." "Through the heart of the capital ran a river...faced with stone." "The most sumptuous edifice in Cuzco...was undoubtedly the great temple dedicated to the Sun...studded with gold plates...surrounded by convents and dormitories for the priests." "The palaces were numerous and the troops lost no time in plundering them of their contents, as well as despoiling the religious edifices," including the royal mummies in the Coricancha.
Pizarro ceremoniously gave Manco Inca the Incan fringe as the new Peruvian leader. Pizarro encouraged some of his men to stay and settle in the city, giving out repartimientos to do so. Alcaldes were established and regidores on 24 March 1534, which included his brothers Gonzalo Pizarro and Juan Pizarro. Pizarro left a garrison of 90 men and then departed for Jauja with Manco Inca.
Pizarro renamed it the "Very noble and great city of Cuzco". Buildings constructed after the Spanish invasion have a mixture of Spanish influence with Inca indigenous architecture, including the Santa Clara and San Blas neighborhoods. The Spanish destroyed many Inca buildings, temples and palaces. They used the remaining walls as bases for the construction of a new city.
Father Vincente de Valverde became the Bishop of Cusco and built his cathedral facing the plaza. He placed a St. Dominic monastery on the ruins of the House of the Sun and a nunnery where the House of the Virgins of the Sun was stood.
The city was retaken from the Spanish during the Siege of Cuzco of 1536 by Manco Inca Yupanqui, a leader of the Sapa Inca. Although the siege lasted 10 months, it was ultimately unsuccessful. Manco's forces were able to reclaim the city for only a few days. He eventually retreated to Vilcabamba, the capital of the newly established small Neo-Inca State, which lasted for another 36 years but he was never able to return to Cuzco. Throughout the conflict and years of the Spanish colonization of the Americas, many Incas died of smallpox.
Cusco stands on layers of cultures, with the Tawantinsuyu (old Inca Empire) built on Killke structures and the Spanish replacing indigenous temples with Catholic churches and palaces, with mansions for the invaders.
Cusco was the center for the Spanish colonization and spread of Christianity in the Andean world. It became very prosperous thanks to agriculture, cattle raising and mining, as well as its trade with Spain. The Spanish colonists constructed many churches and convents, as well as a cathedral, university and Archbishopric.
After Peru declared its independence in 1821, Cusco maintained its importance within Peru's administrative structure. Upon independence, the government created the Department of Cuzco, maintaining authority over territory extending to the Brazilian border. Cusco was made capital of the department; subsequently it became the most important city in the south-eastern Andean region.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the city's urban sprawl spread to the neighboring districts of Santiago and Wanchaq.
In 1911, explorer Hiram Bingham used the city as a base for the expedition in which he rediscovered the ruins of Machu Picchu.
A major earthquake on 21 May 1950 caused the destruction of more than one third of the city's structures. The Dominican Priory and Church of Santo Domingo, which were built on top of the impressive Qurikancha (Temple of the Sun), were among the affected colonial era buildings. Inca architecture withstood the earthquake. Many of the old Inca walls were at first thought to have been lost after the earthquake, but the granite retaining walls of the Qurikancha were exposed, as well as those of other ancient structures throughout the city. Restoration work at the Santo Domingo complex exposed the Inca masonry formerly obscured by the super-structure without compromising the integrity of the colonial heritage. Many of the buildings damaged in 1950 had been impacted by an earthquake only nine years previously.
Since the 1990s, tourism has increased. Currently, Cusco is the most important tourist destination in Peru. Under the administration of mayor Daniel Estrada Pérez, a staunch supporter of the Academia Mayor de la Lengua Quechua, between 1983 and 1995 the Quechua name Qosqo was officially adopted for the city.
- In 1933, the Congress of Americanists met in La Plata, Argentina and declared the city as the Archeological Capital of the Americas.
- In 1978, the 7th Convention of Mayors of Great World Cities met in Milan, Italy and declared Cusco a Cultural Heritage of the World.
- In 1983, UNESCO, in Paris, France declared the city a World Heritage Site. ThePeruvian government declared it the Tourism Capital of Peru and Cultural Heritage of the Nation.
- In 2007, the New7Wonders Foundation designated Machu Picchu one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, following a worldwide poll.
Cusco has a subtropical highland climate (Köppen Cwb). It is generally dry and temperate, with two defined seasons. The dry season lasts from May to August, with abundant sunshine and occasional nighttime freezes; July is the coolest month with an average of 9.7 °C (49.5 °F). The wet season lasts from December to March, with night frost less common; November averages 13.3 °C (55.9 °F). Although frost and hail are common, the only snowfall ever recorded was in June 1911. Temperatures usually range from 0.2 °C (32.4 °F) to 20.9 °C (69.6 °F), but the all-time temperature range is between −8.9 °C (16.0 °F) and 30 °C (86.0 °F). Sunshine hours peak in July; the equivalent of January in the northern hemisphere. In contrast, February, the equivalent of August in the northern hemisphere, has the least amount of sunshine.
Climate data for Cusco
|Record high °C (°F)||27.8|
|Average high °C (°F)||18.8|
|Average low °C (°F)||6.6|
|Record low °C (°F)||1.1|
|Source #1: World Meteorological Organisation (UN)|
Cusco extends throughout the Watanay river valley. Located on the eastern end of the Knot of Cuzco, its elevation is around 3,400 m (11,200 ft). North is the Willkapampa mountain range with 4,000 m – 6,000 m high mountains. The highest peak is Sallqantay(6,271 m) about 60 km (37.28 mi) northwest of Cusco.
|Cuzco||116.22 km²||108,798*||936.1||3,399 amsl|
|San Jerónimo||103.34 km²||28,856*||279.2||3,244 amsl|
|San Sebastián||89.44 km²||85,472*||955.6||3,244 amsl|
|Santiago||69.72 km²||66,277*||950.6||3,400 amsl|
|Wanchaq||6.38 km²||54,524*||8,546.1||3,366 amsl|
Prices in Cusco
MARKET / SUPERMARKET
|Beer (domestic)||0.5 l||$|
|Bottle of Wine||1 bottle||$7.60|
|Dinner (Low-range)||for 2||$20.00|
|Dinner (Mid-range)||for 2||$40.00|
|Dinner (High-range)||for 2||$|
|Mac Meal or similar||1 meal||$4.50|
|Beer (Imported)||0.33 l||$2.70|
|Beer (domestic)||0.5 l||$|
|Coctail drink||1 drink||$|
|Men’s Haircut||1 haircut||$|
|Mobile (prepaid)||1 min.||$0.13|
|Pack of Marlboro||1 pack||$2.60|
|Toilet paper||4 rolls||$1.70|
CLOTHES / SHOES
|Jeans (Levis 501 or similar)||1||$47.00|
|Dress summer (Zara, H&M.)||1||$42.00|
|Sport shoes (Nike, Adidas)||1||$85.00|
|Local Transport||1 ticket||$|
35 $ per day
Estimated cost per 1 day including:
- meals in cheap restaurant
- public transport
- cheap hotel
146 $ per day
Estimated cost per 1 day including:
- mid-range meals and drinks
Transportation - Get In
The airport is at the edge of the city (taxi ride). There are daily internal flights to and from Lima, Arequipa and small jungle airstrips in the Amazon basin. Lan Peru has the most flights between Cuzco and Lima, followed by LC Perú and Avianca. It is best to book the earlier flights to avoid weather delays and overbooking.
The closest major international airport is Lima. The cheapest one-way flights to Lima cost around US$70. LC Perú generally has the cheapest flights. Frequently, bad weather conditions can cause flights to be canceled, often up to two days on end. If you are flying straight into Cuzco, beware of altitude sickness for the first couple of days.
With only 5 gates and a few off the main terminal this airport is fairly small but because it sees thousands of tourists a day, it has a good amount of facilities. There are a few restaurants before and after security and some shops too. Massage facilities and communication services are also available. There are a few ATMs in the check-in Area. If you have time, look across the parking lot for last-minute shopping.
When leaving Cuzco airport, there is an airport tax that must be paid. As of April 2010, the domestic airport tax is a little less than US$5. This can be paid in soles or in dollars. As of June 2011, this was included in the price of some tickets.
Note that the market rate for a taxi from the airport to the Plaza de Armas is around 15 soles, not 30 or more as the 'official' airport taxis may try to charge you. As a tourist, it's best to use the unofficial cabs outside and expect to pay around 10-15 soles without much trouble. To find these taxis, exit the airport through the main gate and go to the street that is in front of the airport. Head right on the right-hand-side of the street for around 50m until you hit the taxi stand.
The airport opens at 3am, so if you have to leave early in the morning, do not arrive before 3am, if so, You will have to wait outside the airport (and it is pretty dark).
The Terminal Terrestre is about a 20-minute walk down the Av. Sol. You can also take a taxi for a few soles. The toilet in the terminal is S/.1 at the first level, in the second level is free.
Buses are plentiful to and from other Peruvian and Bolivian cities like Lima (about 22 hr),Puno (6-8 hr), Arequipa (10 hr), Nasca (14-16 hr), Copacabana (9-12hr, 60 soles) and La Paz (12-15hr, 90 soles) but are quite long and slow, although the views can compensate. The main roads are mostly quite good, but some can be bad, making trips take longer than expected.
It should be understood that buses in Peru are not operated to first world standards, especially the cheaper ones. The drivers work long hours and poor maintenance is common. There are frequent accidents, often with fatalities. If you are of nervous disposition, stick with the more upmarket companies.
Also, make sure your bus has a bathroom or that it stops for bathroom breaks every couple of hours before you buy tickets. There are Puno-Cuzco buses that have/do neither, and that can mean a VERY long 6–8 hours.
- Expreso Los Chankas, Pje Cáceres 150. One of the only companies to offer direct service from Ayacucho to Cuzco. 55 soles for a 22 hr ride on a semi-cama bus. Buses at 6:30AM and 7PM.
Cuzco is connected to Machu Picchu and Puno by rail. Rail service was recently discontinued to Arequipa. This service is operated by PeruRail.
Transportation - Get Around
The center of Cuzco is small enough to walk around, although you will probably need to catch a bus or taxi to the bus station, Sacsayhuamán or airport. Beware about walking around at night alone and/or drunk, robberies have often been reported.
Taxis are very common in Cuzco. Officially they cost 2-4 soles depending on distance. Call Alo Cusco Taxis Often many drivers are not locals. Beware when using taxis at night; robberies have been reported in collusion with taxi cab drivers, at certain times radio taxis may be the safest option. The driver might also try to extort a hefty sum of money (15 soles) for a short ride if you don't haggle before - which is likely if you're just arriving at night at the bus terminal and want to avoid the hordes of touts. Just pay 5 soles and leave it at that. Do not get in any taxis which already has a passenger. Do not get in a street taxi by night, order one by telephone.
If you are staying in Cuzco for a long time, the Combis are a cheap and reliable form of transportation. These are the Volkswagen vans and small buses with names like Imperial, Batman, or Zorro. It costs about 60 centimos to ride them. If you are unsure if a certain combi will take you where you want to go, just ask. They will call out the stops as they go and if you want to get off, you just yell "Baja!", as in, "I want to get off!" They run until 10PM. But if you are a fan of lots of personal space, this may not be the best option for you, as they tend to be quite full. Carry your backpack in front of you.
For large groups, a tourist bus can be very convenient to get to places like Pisac and Ollantaytambo. Check with one of the many local travel agencies.
- BEST RATED -
- BEST VALUE -
- San Pedro Market. Though it's becoming more tourist-oriented it still has plenty of genuine local colour, a nice change from Plaza de Armas. If you're looking for a full blown market with a special isle for entrails, this is the place to be. Colorful, vibrant, packed, San Pedro Market is not to be missed.
- Casa Ecologica, 393 Triunfo, . Good for fair-trade textiles.
- T'Ankar Gallery, 121 Calle Palacio, . Good for well-made but pricey indigenous weavings and pottery.
- Morning markets in Juliaca and Puno, If you want cheap cheap touristy stuff, go to one of the two Saturday and Sunday morning markets in Juliaca about 5 hr away by bus or Puno (about 6 hr away by bus). They are about 1/3 the price of Cuzco.
- Artisan Market (intersection of Avenida del Sol and Tullumayo). If you don't want to go so far away, but still want touristy stuff, go to the big red building near the fountain. Also try the main market by Plaza San Francisco.
- Pisac, a town outside Cuzco, has a very big market. It is about 30 minutes from Cuzco by bus. The bus station is on Tullumayo street a couple blocks from Limacpampas. The fare is very cheap, and you can see the Incan ruins at Pisac.
- Sacred Valley, (Valle Sagrado), Includes the towns/ruins of Chinchero, Ollantaytambo and Pisac. There is lots of touristy stuff to buy, you can barter, but the prices won´t go down much.
- Centro Comercial El Molino, Urbanizacion Ttio. Another market, you have to take a taxi and it costs 2 soles to get there. In this market you can buy pirated merchandise including DVDs and CDs. A good quality copy DVD is 3 soles.
The indigenous women at El Centro Bartolome de Las Casas have a store in which they sell homemade handicrafts and weavings. You can often watch them work, though they often don't speak Spanish, and rarely speak a word of English. It's located a few blocks from the plaza on Avenida Tullumayu.
The further away you get from the main square, the cheaper things become. In the San-Pedro market where bread is 0.10 soles and a glass of combination juices is 1.50 soles, and they give you 2-4 refills. Don´t go too far from the main square at night though, it can be dangerous.
Alpaca sweaters are not like they used to be. The only good ones are in upmarket shops. The best places to buy the cheap sweaters are Arequipa and Cusco but if you know where to look, you can find them at a good price in Lima as well at certain markets. Make sure you come to Cusco with room in your suitcase, you will need it.
In Aguas Calientes and Machu Picchu, prices can be double what they are in Cuzco.
There are several supermarkets close to el centro:
- Gato's Market, Plaza de Armas (across from Norton Rat's Pub in Portal Belén 115). Small and a bit pricey.
- Mega, has several locations: the most central is on Matara, just north of Ayacucho. A larger one is at Plaza Tupac Amaru, on Matará 271 at Av Garcilaso. They have a home-furnishings store next door as well.
- Maxi, Ave Grau (just west of Matara).
For larger supermarkets, take a combi or taxi a couple of kilometres south on Av. La Cultura.
- D'Dinos Market, Av La Cultura 2003. Open 24 hr, takes credit cards, offers delivery.
- La Canasta, Av La Cultura 2000-block. Well-stocked.
- Mega (a few blocks further past La Canasta, on the same side of Av. La Cultura). This is the largest supermarket in Cuzco.
- Mercado San Pedro (1 block west of Plaza San Francisco. It's on the block bounded between Calle Hospital & Calle Nueva and Tupac Amaru and Cascaparo just east of the train station for Machu Picchu). The largest market close to the center. If you are looking for fresh fruits and vegetables go to one of the open air markets such as this one. You can find all manner of fruits, vegetables, cheeses, chocolates, honey, meats, clothing, gifts, fresh fruit juices, and even tailors to repair your clothes while you wait.
The Cuzco area has some extremely good international food with tasty options for all budgets. Best pizza ever at the end of the Av. La Cultura. Be sure to try an alpaca steak(don't forget a llama/alpaca is normally kept and used for its wool - so only old animals will be slaughtered).
The soups are amazing. Try sopa de zapallo, a type of pumpkin soup.
If you are looking for traditional Peruvian food try lomo saltado (beef tips stir-fried with tomatoes, onions, and spices, over a bed of French fries and rice), aji de gallina(chicken in a very good yellow pepper sauce with olives and hard-boiled eggs), or papa rellena (stuffed potato with beef, olives, hard-boiled egg, vegetables, and spices)
When leaving Cuzco, there is a place called Boing Appetit (in front of the Airport, just if you want to have breakfast or a sandiwich before take the plane to Lima) its the only place that counts with free internet connection in front of the airport.
- Cuy, (guinea pig), The absolute traditional holiday food of the region. You can buy a whole cooked cuy in many of the restaurants around Plaza de Armas. In 2012 cuy cost 60S at all these places. There are also dedicated 'cuyerias' that serve much cheaper cuy.
- Alpaca, Grilled, tastes like a more tender steak. You must try it. You can get alpaca pizza as well.
- Cooked potatoes, Cooked and served hot in the cold season.
- Chifa. This is the Peruvian version of Chinese food. The neighborhood of Wanchaqhas many Chifa restaurants.
- Inca Kola, a bubble gum/tutti-frutti-flavored urine-yellow soda. This drink outsells Coca-Cola in Peru, which is why it was bought out by Coca-Cola in 1999). Also, chicha morada is a Peruvian specialty. It's a spiced non-alcoholic drink made out of purple corn.
- Pura Papa, Procuradores 341, 2nd floor (30 meters from Plaza de Armas), . 10AM-10PM. potato restaurant serving international potato dishes reinvented with native peruvian potatoes and original drinks like (sweet) potato cocktails and smoothies. You can design your own meal in 3 steps: mark 1 of 7 bases (rösti, french fries, twice baked potato, tortilla, bombas, gnocchi, stoemp), mark 1 of 12 meat/veggie options (alpaca, poutine, vol-au-vent, etc.) and mark 2 of 14 sauces(sriracha, indian curry, criolla, guacamole, etc.). There is a potato museum and they do fun workshops as well.
- El Encuentro, very reasonably priced restaurant with huge portions. The 5 soles dinner is very popular and includes soup, main course & mate. Free salads with lunch. They also do soy meat very well. There are two of these restaurants but the one in Calle Leon near Plaza de Armas is at least 1 sol cheaper for exactly the same menu.
- El Balcon. Soup, main course, and desert (no drink) for 10 soles, about US$3.70. If you're looking for good quality food for not a lot of money, this is the place to go.
- Inka Grill (On the Plaza de Armas). Well-known and frequented by tourists but not a trap. Excellent food. Good place to try Cuy (guinea pig); some people have reported mud butt after eating it, it is tastily done and served without the head so eating doesn't remind you of your pet hamster. Try the appetizer tiradito de trucha. Alpaca also on the menu.
- Ajjla Wasi, Sta Catalina Angosta (just off the Plaza de Armas). Traditional 3 course meals with a glass of chicha for only 7 soles and a comfortable upstairs setting. It is frequented by a mix of locals and tourists.
- El Emperador, They have 2 restaurants within the city, both are very reasonably priced. They have a 13-page menu with all sorts of foods from around the world. Try the pisco sour tall.
- Yaku Mama (at the end of the 'Gringo Alley'). Try a big fresh juice with one of their large and keenly priced breakfasts.
- Yaku Mama Grill (Plaza de Armas). The sister restaurant of Yaku Mama. Cheerful English-speaking waitress named Yolanda, but is a bit short on the alpacas. Good meals.
- Jack's Cafe, Choquechaca 188 (on the corner and near the South American Explorers clubhouse), . This is a great place to get a big breakfast complete with eggs, bacon, avocado, toast and fantastic thick shakes. Very popular with tourists. Try the homemade lemonades.
- Right outside of Jack's is an empanada stand which has great rocoto salsa, a spicy salsa that goes well on the cheese or meat-stuffed pastries.
- Paddy's Irish Pub, 124 Calle Triunfo (on the eastern corner of Plaza de Armas). The night-brother of Jack's Cafe. Not exactly traditional Peruvian fare, but an excellent atmosphere among fellow travelers in a cozy upstairs pub setting. Purportedly the highest 'Irish-owned' pub in the world at 3,400 m, it offers a good selection of pub food (think cottage pie, casseroles, mash and gravy), local and international drinks (even had cider and Guinness), and a useful "No Gracias" T-shirt for sale.
- Mama Africa. On 3 levels. Snacks, a cafe on the rooftop, restaurant with a good cheap menu, 2 discos, the latest movies on DVD. Some of the decorations and paintings are by the owner/artist.
- Cross Keys Pub. Looking onto the central square is a pub serving European food to tourists. Skip the fish and chips.
- Kukuly, Huaynapata 318. A cozy place with friendly prices also attracting locals, run by a Swiss guy. Daily menu for 6 soles.
- Los Angeles (close to Ukuku's and near the Plaza de ArmasIf). For late night food after clubbing, a very good fast food-type restaurant.
- 2 Nations, Huaynapata (not too far and not too close to the Plaza de Armas). New restaurant opened up by an Australian named Matt. Extensive, multi-ethnic menu, good service and personable owner.
- Meli Melo's (near LimacpampaIf). If you are not brave enough to try the empanadas on the street then order an empanada or a Bolivian saltena here.
- Victor Victoria, Calle Tsesequocha (just off Calle Tigre). Friendly service. Great salad bar buffet included in all main dishes. Gorgeous garlic trout with rice or potatoes for 10 soles (including the salad bar buffet and lovely fresh bread) but only for lunch. Great value breakfasts. Regular glasses of freshly squeezed juice for 6 soles. Also they have a proper espresso machine for good coffee in the morning.
- Govindas (near Plaza de Armas). Vegetarian restaurant. Not great. You pay 6 soles for a lousy glass of orange juice mixed with water. Food is just ok, pretty overpriced.
- Moni Cafe Restaurant, San Agustin 311. Vegetarian take on Peruvian food. Since 2001, great stuff.
- Cicciolinia's, Calle Triunfo 393 (at the end of the alley by the 12-sided stone). Very tasty place to go for breakfast. There is an amazing bakers downstairs.
- El Mercado (in front of the train station). A roofed market where they sell delicious local bread, herbs, juices, souvenirs, DVDs and other items. If you want something truly more local, very cheap, and are willing to take risks of not the best methods of cleaning dishes, then head over here. At the end of the market are the food stands, where they serve local food. For 2 soles you can get soup, an entree, and juice. All the locals know where the train station and El Mercado is. This is where many local workers go for their meals, not exactly a tourist place, but they are friendly towards tourists.
- El Fogon, Plateros 365 (Just off of Plaza de Armas, top floor), . Nothing fancy but great cheap food: for 10 soles (about US$3.50) get a meal deal that includes a plate from the salad bar, a selection of soup, a selection of main dish, a dessert and a beverage. Or splurge with their more expensive menu offer for 20 Soles. Very tasty Peruvian food. Friendly staff.
- Bagdad Cafe (left of the cathedral). This small restaurant seems to produce everything themselves. Local food is extremely good, in the evening small performance groups enter the restaurant and give excellent performances. The prices are mid-range, but it is sure worth it. The daily menu lunch special is more like a snack.
- Chifa Status, Av. La Cultura (close to El Mega supermarket). Good quality Chifa. Dishes for 2-3 soles.
- Puerto Atico (Perú Street between Mateo Pumacahua and La Infancia). The "pueto atico" ceviche that is Pejerey with Pulpo, and the Jalea de Mariscos are the must try.
- Maikhani, Av Del Sol (second floor in little mall before you get to Plaza de Armas). Great Indian food served as an all you can eat buffet for only 15 soles. You get mineral water, salad, chutneys and fruit included but it is extra for chapatis, beers or similar. 15 sol.
- Encantasqa, Choquechaca 131. A nice place to have a break with coffee and a snack. Especially the chocolate cupcakes are delicious and make up for half a lunch. They also have fresh cakes, quiches and juices.
- Prasada, Qanchipata 269 (sit-down restaurant; lunch & dinner) & Choquechaca 152 (alley-way; lunch) (about half a block from Jack's Cafe, a bit hard to find in a small alley walkway, and is only marked by a small blackboard outside listing the daily specials). Cute local vegetarian friendly spot. The food is delicious. For 5 soles you can get plates like "falafel tacos" and "mexican veggi burger". Also, they have lassies (a Hindi yogurt drink), and tasty desserts for a few soles. At the sit-down restaurant they do a daily menu (drink, soup and plate) for 8 soles (USD $3.50). Can't be beat!US$3.50.
- Mercado Municipal. Fresh juices direct from the market. Fresh and great place to contact with local people. 2sol+.
- El Cholandes, Choquechaca 188b. Dutch owned and run bar and restaurant, with typical Dutch food such as 'patatje oorlog' and 'bitterballen' (both for 8 soles each, May 2012) and also other choices incl local specialties.
- Restaurant Inkazuela, Plazoleta Nazarenas N 167 (8 meters from Hotel Monasterio (2nd floor)), , e-mail: [email protected]. This place specializes in stews. Food is delicious and friendly waitresses will take good care of you. Well chosen music and a fireplace create a romantic atmosphere. Appetizers around 15 soles, mains around 28 soles.
- Tunupa, 233 Portal Confituría, . They offer some of the best guinea pig or alpaca dishes from the local Novo Andino cuisine as well as other local specialities. lunch entrées, $9–$17.
Sights & Landmarks
- The walls of the city are Inca, particularly near the Plaza de Armas.
- Monumento Pachacuteq. Down Av. Sol, is a statue of the Inca warrior King Pachacuteq. The statue is placed on a cylindrical base and the total monument is over 22 m high. The cylindrical base can be climbed, but views are disappointing because the monument is located at a lower part of town. Admission with the boleto turistico.
- Cusco Cathedral (Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption of the Virgin). Is the biggest cathedral of Cuzco, in front of Plaza de Armas. As a tourist the entrance is S/.25. If you go in a "misa" (mass) between 6:30 - 9 am is free. $25.
Museums & Galleries
- Museo Municipal de Arte Contemporáneo. Located in the Municipal Palace at Plaza Regocijo. Has exhibitions of contemporary art. Admission with the boleto turistico
- Museo Historico Regional. Located in the home of the Inca historian Garcilaso de la Vega. Many paintings from the 17th and 18h century.
- Museo del Centro de Textiles Tradicionales de Cusco, Av Sol. No. 603. A beautiful (and free) museum inside El Centro's textile store featuring a gallery containing displays of traditional Quechuan and Andean textiles. The museum explains the historical significance of textiles and the techniques by which they are made. A must-see, and visitors can buy the traditional textiles as they come in. A large majority of the money goes to the women who produce them, and the textiles are of much higher quality than the synthetic and machine-woven textiles found throughout the city.
- Museo del Sitio del Qoricancha, Av Sol. With information about the different pre-Columbian cultures and fragments of ceramics and textiles of the Inca culture. A very small museum, the showcase room includes three mummies and skulls modified by the Incas with holes or sloped foreheads. Allow an hour to an hour and a half. English explanations are present but lacking.
- Museo de Arte Popular (in the basement of the OFEC office). Displays a collection of popular art.
- Galleries; the stunning scenery of the Cuzco area are often very well depicted by local artists. It is possible to find cheap prints that are of surprisingly good quality if you're prepared to shop around.
- Santa Catalina Convent. Also a collection of religious art. Admission with the boleto turistico.
- Qoricancha (The Sun Temple). The central site of worship for the Incas. Like so many other testimonies of fantastic Inca architecture, it was severely devastated by the conquistadores, the Spanish conquerors, who built their Christian church, Santo Domingo, on top of the ruins. Yet most of the bottom part of the temple is fairly well preserved and makes the site worth several hours of your time. The site is one of the best in Cuzco, or Qosqo in the Quechua language, containing both Catholic and Inca heritage with stunning views of the surrounding area. Looking at the outside from Avenida del Sol, you get a perfect view of the church standing on the temple and you see the differences of the Inca and the Spanish way of building. Qoricancha also is the starting point of the yearly processions at Inti Raymi, the Sun Festival, in the remembrance of the Inca tradition of celebrating the winter solstice. This procession then moves all the way up to Saxayhuamán. In order to understand, especially the remarkable remains in the Inca section, a guided tour is advisable. Located 4 blocks from Plaza de Armas on Av. El Sol. Admission 10 soles.
- ChocoMuseo, Calle Garcilaso 210, . 11AM-7PM. A shop ("museum") explaining the history of cacao (free) and offering chocolate workshops (not free) as well as cacao farm tours (not free). Different recipes from around the world are available all made with chocolate from the factory located inside the cacao and chocolate museum. Great artisanal and organically sourced hot chocolate.Admission is free.
Things to do
In Cuzco City
Walk around the Plaza de Armas; the square has churches, shops, restaurants and bars backing on to it and is a great place to spend an afternoon. The historical center of Cuzco is beautiful, but you will have to deal with all the street vendors and hawkers of cheap paintings and other souvenirs. They are everywhere in and around the Plaza de Armas. They somewhat spoil the experience.
Get a massage. You will invariably be propositioned by young ladies handing out flyers advertising massages. These are legit, only cost 15-20 Soles for 1+ hour, but are not done by trained masseuses. Still, for the price it can't be beat.
- Plaza de San Francisco,. Which is a few blocks southwest of the center, and is a great place to visit one of Cuzco's many great coffee shops. Next to the Plaza is the main market, which is fairly traditional and is a worthwhile visit. The market has a mix of stalls selling food and other household items as well as clothing and souvenirs.
- Play Sapo, a traditional bar game played in chicharias all over Peru. The game involves throwing small coins, called fichas, at a table with a bronze sapo (toad) attached. You get points for making it into holes on the table, and a ton of points for making it into the sapo's mouth. Best played while drinking chicha (corn beer) at a local dive. Ask old men to show you the correct throwing form, as it's difficult to master.
- Talk to local store owners, curators, waitresses and bartenders. They typically know a little English if your Spanish is not good, and are generally happy to share interesting information about the city not found in guidebooks. This is also a great way to find the best places to try cuy, alpaca, and chicha.
- Once you are accustomed to the altitude, go for a jog! This is a very humbling experience, as the hills and thin air prove a challenge to even those in great shape. It's also a good way to explore. Head east or south of the plaza for the safest places. If you're a woman out exercising, you may get a few cat calls, as this is common in much of Latin America.
- Take a Salsa class, or three. Salseros Cusco is a fabulous little salsa school offering private and group classes at minimal price in two central locations. With enthusiastic teachers and a number of styles taught, this is the perfect time to polish your moves and get ready to shine on the dance floor. Ask for Franshesco Efernetti if you want private classes.
- Plan trekking or other excursions in the area. The wealth of agencies and tour companies make Cuzco a good place to gather information and compare prices.
- Ladies in traditional clothing carrying baby alpacas will come up to you and ask if you want a photo. They will charge you S/5 for this. They might charge double if you take a picture with more than one lady.
Day Trips from Cuzco
Most day trips from Cuzco follow the following format: at between 7-9AM you get picked up from your hotel or you meet with your group in a public plaza very near to Plaza de Armas, or at the front door of the agency with which you booked the tour, which is also very likely to be near Plaza de Armas. Then you drive for ~1–2 hours to your destination(s). The day ends back where it started, at 3-4PM In practice this means that you can do only one day trip per day and that it will most likely occur during the beginning part of the day. An exception to this is the day tour of Cuzco which starts later, ~1PM. For all these trips, ask in your hotel if you want them to call travel agencies.
Archaeological Ruins Trips
- Day Trip City Tour or The Four Archaeological Ruins Tour bus around S/.25 (Sacsayhuamán, Qenko, Pukapukara and Tambomachay) from 1pm to 7pm.
- Sacsayhuamán, The closest and largest of these ruins is the amazing Inca Sacsayhuamán (sometimes called Saqsaywaman and pronounced "Sock-say-wah-mun") ruins high above Cuzco. It is a steep climb from the Plaza de Armas up Plateros street which changes to Saphi. Look for the long staircase on the right, follow the paved curvy road up to the next cobblestone pedestrian path and follow this climb past the first closed control point to the second control. No need to take a cab if you can handle it. But, be careful, as robberies have been reported in mornings and evenings. There is a charge to explore the ruins at the second control or present your boleto turistico. Those on a budget can get a sense of the ruins without paying by walking up the hill and up to the entrance. You can then walk to the adjacent hill with the big Jesus on it and look down on the city. However, the sheer size of the stones that were moved and the importance of the battle there make it worth entrance fee. Read up on the battle beforehand as the guides don't discuss it. Also, a view of the circular base of the former tower as shown in many of the photos is not possible due to the protective ropes. Go earlier in the morning as later visits are disrupted by whistles from guards telling unobservant tourists to get off the ruins. Or go even more early (before 7AM) and get in for free (2013).
- Qenko, (or Q'enqo), The Second site up the road from Sacsayhuamán. Take the cumbi shared busses up the hill for 1 sole or take a walk of about 0.5–1 km up a gradual incline to visit the site. Its name means "Zig-Zag" in Quecha, and probably refers to the Zig-Zag channels carved into a rock. Explore the pass through cave and view the altar on which llamas were sacrificed. The large erect stone shown on the boleto turistico is a solar calendar. On each side of the stone is a square wall two stones high. Each stone is representative of a number of days, the total is the total days in the year. Opposite the stone are the familiar windows in which mummies and human remains were discovered. Accessible with the boleto turistico
- Pukapukara, (red fort). Named after the red hue of the hillsides nearby. The third site along the route, even heartier walkers will find the walk a bit long and a bit steep despite the paved and well traveled road. However, the views along the walk are great and small mud brick bars are intermittent between the sites. Hire a taxi or take a cumbi shared bus up from Qenko for one sole to save time and energy. A larger site than Q'enqo, the guides have more to say about this site. It was likely a checkpoint or military control. Offerings of coca leaves among other things were received here. Accessible with the boleto turistico.
- Tambomachay, The most distant ruin on the route from Cuzco. It is a small site with an ornamental fountain whose source is unknown as reportedly archaeologists lack the tools necessary to determine the source without damaging the site. Likely it is an underground spring. In several Incan sites such as Ollentaytambo water sources were covered or underground to protect the water supply from poisoning. Accessible with the boleto turistico.Bathrooms are free with the Boleto. Take a cumbi all the way back to Plaza de las Armas in Cuzco for 1 sole.
- Guides and tours to all four sites in one day, If interested, pay/negotiate for a guide at the second control at Sacsayhuamán to tour you through all four sites. Ask the guard at the ticket control which guides have been through the government training. Expect between 60-80 soles depending upon the season which is about 15-20 soles per site. Allow 4-5 hr for the trip when taking the Cumbis shared buses. Pack a snack although water is available along the way. Bathrooms (clean and well maintained) are only available at the final site Tambomachay. A boleto turisitico is recommended as control points exist at three of the four sites and are carefully monitored.
- If you don't want to hire a guide, then you could take a taxi or combi to Tambomachay/Pukapukara and walk back down the hill to the remaining sites. This is much kinder on the legs! If you go to the first two sites in the morning, there is a backpacker's cafe about 250 m down the road on the right that does tasty and inexpensive sandwiches and very good fruit juice. The walk down to Q'enqo and Sacsayhuamán has nice views.
- Day Trip Sacred Valley (Pisaq, Ollantaytambo, chinchero) Tour Bus around S/.35 from 8am to 7pm.
- Ollantaytambo is the most impressive ruins (after Machu Picchu, of course), it's a must see. There is lots of touristy stuff to buy, you can barter, but the prices won´t go down much.
- Day Trip Chinchero, Moray and the Salineras de Maras Tour Bus around S/.35 (plus S/.10 the entrace of salinas) from 8am to 3pm.
- Moray (Peru) was the agricultural laboratory of the Incas. Several concentric circles up to 150 m deep caused temperature changes of between 2-4°C. Seeds were developed here and spread throughout the empire. 67.5 km (42 mi) from Cuzco. Accessible with the boleto turistico. On the same trip you should visit the Salineras de Maras, terraced salt ponds and also Chinchero. The Chinchero market is on Sundays and finishes early in the afternoon. Take the Cuzco-Chinchero-Urubamba bus from Av. Grau 525. Get off at Chinchero first to catch the market then head on to Moray and the Salineras afterwards.
- Day Trip Valle Sur (Tipon and Pikillacta) Tour Bus around S/.35 (plus S/.10 the entrace of salinas) from 8am to 3pm.
- It makes sense to see Pikillacta and Tipon on the same day as they're on the same bus route. Pikillacta is a little further from Cuzco than Tipon. Tipon has nice terraces, water channels and long staircases its believed to be a part of the Incan royal estate. Here sits the largest irrigation system built by the incas (much of it still functioning) as well as an Incan cemetery. 22.5 km (14 mi) from Cuzco. Both sites accessible with the boleto turistico. Bus Av. De La Cultura 1320, Cuzco to Urcos (Tipon-Pikillacta-Andahuaylilas).
Day Trips non Archaeological
- Cochahuasi Animal Sanctuary. A must see, one-of-a-kind rehabilitation center started by a family of biologists, which provides shelter to animals injured or victimized by poaching. It's a happy place where animals get better and those able are re-released. In 2012, there were three condors, llamas, alpacas, vicunas, macaws, pumas, an unusual furless Peruvian dog, local deer, all very friendly. This is the best place to see pumas, condors and vicunas up close. This is on the road from Cuzco to Pisaq. You can get there by motorcycle or there is usually person working for this refugee at corner of Plaza de Armas and Calle del Medio, which will organize transport for you in refugee's van for 20 soles per person. Donations help with rehabilitation efforts. This place is ahead of its time, and very friendly and awesome.
- Whitewater rafting, but not in the Sacred Valley of the Incas where the water is very polluted and the rapids are relatively tame. Instead head upstream to the Chuqicahuana or Cusipata sections of the Rio Urubamba/Vilcanota where the water is much cleaner and the rapids are excellent fun up to class 5 depending on what time of year you are traveling.
- Inflatable canoeing. On the Piñi Pampa section of the Rio Urubamba you can paddle your own canoe, fun but not frantic class 1 and 2 rapids.
- Rio Apurimac-rafting, If you have more time, try and raft the 3 or 4 day Rio Apurimac - the true source of the Amazon and one of the top ten rafting rivers in the world. Class 3 - 5 all in the most amazing 3,000 m deep canyon. Go with the experts as accidents have occurred and in Peru you pay for what you get, so saving on the costs may seriously reduce the quality and the safety of your trip.
- Rent a motorcycle. There are several shops on Calle Plateros, just north of Plaza de Armas, that rent motorcycles for the day. You do not even need a motorcycle license, simply any kind of driving license from your home country. Prices are typically $40/day which includes two helmets, gloves, and jacket. Sacred Valley Moto Tours, at Calle Plateros #399 (corner of Siete Cuartones), has new bikes in good condition. Where to go? A loop of the Sacred Valley, taking in the market at Pisac, lunch in Urubamba, and several Incan sites, can easily be done in one afternoon. The drive from Cuzco to Pisaq is a string of gorgeous switchbacks - and a great way to see the four Inca sites above Cuzco, the aminal sanctuary, and Pisaq on the same day on your own schedule. Or head south to some of the less-visited but just as pretty small towns and Inca ruins.
- Downhill Mountain Bike Tours are available either across the Chincheros plains, past Inca ruins and down through the spectacular Maras Salineras or the 75 km downhill from Abra Malaga to Santa Maria and onto the totally awesome hot springs of Santa Teresa (and easy and cheap access to Machu Picchu from here too). Again go with the experts as there are a lot of cheap bikes out there totally not up to the job.
- Go paragliding over the Sacred Valley. The scenery is gorgeous.
There are many clubs and pubs in Cuzco, and there are always people handing out flyers around the Plaza de Armas. These usually include free drinks. The clubs are almost always busy, even during the week, do not usually have cover charges, and most are open until 3AM at the earliest and 5PM at the latest. The hot spots change nightly; ask around and you will quickly find the crowds of travelers.
- Mama Africa. Lots of people, good music, good atmosphere and free salsa lessons. Salsa starts at about 9PM and goes until about 11PM. If you really want to learn some moves, dance with Carlos, Miguel, or Checo, who work there. It also plays host to the legendary 'crew' lively lot of Lima ladies whose exploits with gringo males have reached mythical levels. Located on the corner of Plaza de Armas.
- El Muki. Located across the street from Mama America. A place with more locals than the Plaza de Armas. It has a unique cave-like interior and is one of the city's oldest discos.
- Caos, La Avenida de la Cultura (next to the post office). If you want to get away from the tourist crowd for a while and dance the night away with the locals, head to this very nice large club with a great mix of music and exotic drinks.
- Mythology. Disco that offers salsa. If you want to learn Rueda Cubana, this is the place to go. Classes usually start around 9PM and private lessons can be arranged with Cesar, the dance instructor. Mythology also offers a unique decor of gods and goddesses and has the cleanest restrooms of all of the nightclubs, by far.
- Garabato's. If you want to dance meringue and salsa all night, head here. Features a live salsa and meringue band most nights. This is where the salsa crowd goes after 10-11PM when the other clubs stop playing salsa.
- Ukuku's, Plateros 316. Live music with local and traveling artists playing a variety of different music styles including salsa, meringue, criolla, and Afro-Peruvian. There are great decorative masks in the walls and a huge wooden woman statue with butterfly wings.
- Blue Moon, Tullumayo St. For drinks before you go out dancing. It's a small bar with a local crowd and local prices.
- Los Perros, Tecsecocha 436, San Blas. Chill restaurant/lounge. Ethnic food and comfortable couches.
- Blue Martini. If you want to hear a great percussion group. There is also a hookah lounge close by.
- The Tea Room, Avenida Santa Teresa 364, 2. Nd floor. New to Cuzco is another chill place chock full of wall, furniture, and sculpture art, not to mention creative cocktails and funky chilled out music. Bring a group to chill and converse and enjoy their creative tea mixes and pastries. Free wifi. 12PM-12AM.
- Norton Rats. Sort of a biker bar on the southeast side of the Plaza de Armas. They have pool and darts and a pretty cool atmosphere.
- Paddy Flaherty's, Triunfo 124 (next to the cathedral). Irish themed 'Pub', serves a very good burger. The bathroom is questionable.
- Rosie O'Grady's, Santa Catalina Ancha 360 (a block from the Plaza de Armas). Irish themed 'Pub'. You can watch football (soccer) or baseball on the big screen, and the staff is very friendly.
- The Muse, Triunfo 338, 2nd Floor. Live performances, juggling, food.
- Angelitos, San Blas. A good place for live music with a mix of locals and gringos. Wednesdays and Saturdays are reggae nights.
- Le Nomade. 2nd floor, cnr of Choquechaca and Cuesta San Blas 207. Bar/lounge with live music every night. Reggae, Latin, cubano, afro-Jazz, blues, bossa, funk, soul, rock and española. No cover. Friendly staff.
- The Lost City Bar (turn left out of gringo alley, basement bar on the left before Calle Tigre). nights. Small basement bar one block from the plaza de Armas. Very friendly place to watch American football or basketball and chat to the regulars and owners. Great pizzas and paninis, cheap happy hour cocktails and beers. A real bar for locals, expats and Cusqueños.
Things to know
What to wear
- June–August. Cuzco can be very hot during the day and quite cold in the early morning and late at night. If you get cold easily, you might want to carry a hat, gloves, and several layers in your day pack to use at night, that you can peel off during the day for complete summer mode
- Shoes. Cuzco is somewhat dusty and you will be very happy wearing a boot/sneaker mix such as Keens, rather than for example flip flops.
Safety in Cusco
Safety ( overall) - High /7.7
Safety ( day) - Very High /8.3
Safety ( night ) - High/6.5
Law enforcement related to drugs is very severe in Peru - that is, years in prison and no pleasure. Consider that many "long resident tourists" are part of the scene. It is already a felony that you "consider to maybe accept" an offer to buy.
Although Cuzco is, in general, relatively safe, as in any urban area, muggings and petty thefts do occur. Use common sense and you should be fine. Don't wander alone away from the Plaza de Armas late at night. Don't flaunt your valuables around. Be conscious of what is going on around you. As Peru's main tourist attraction, Cuzco is a mecca for thieves and scammers. Pickpocketing (especially by children) is a major problem. New scams are being thought of all the time. For example, be wary if you are approached by people trying to sell you stuff in the streets and try to strike up a long conversation. It's possible that they are distracting you while someone else is pickpocketing you. By night, it's not wise to venture away from the main well lit areas. The markets, bus station and other crowded areas are the epicentres for these activities. Often targets are distracted by some strange going on (e.g. fight or dispute) whilst another person performs the robbery. Only take taxis that are well marked, and if you are taking a taxi alone at night, write down the number and call a friend (or pretend to call a friend if you don't have a phone) saying, so the driver can hear, that you are coming home in taxi #... Also, try not to set yourself apart as a clueless tourist by wearing expensive or flashy clothing or revealing clothing in a particularly conservative region of Peru (the locals do not wear shorts and tank-tops around).
Watch for the feral dogs that hit the streets at night, rummaging through trash. Peruvians love dogs, and most of the time the animals are friendly. Just use common sense and project confidence and you shouldn't be bothered. If you feel threatened let the dogs see you pick up a rock off the ground, or if there are no rocks simply act like you picked one up. The dogs seem to know what this means and they'll slowly back off.
There are a number of beggars in the streets of Cuzco, most of them children. They will tell you the money is for schooling. Giving to beggars is a moral decision each individual can make. If you don't want them to follow you around, a stern 'no' will suffice. Please see the article on Begging.
For most travelers, at 11,150 feet Cuzco is the highest point on their trip (or any trip for that matter) and altitude sickness is a big problem - you may become winded after even minor exertion (other symptoms include headache and nausea). If you've had trouble at high elevation in the past, arrive a day early to acclimate. Remember on the first day to take it slow and stay away from the bars the first night. Most hotels offer coca tea (coca leaves are the traditional native remedy for altitude sickness) and finding products made out of coca like coca candy is easy to find in Cuzco, but their effect is doubtful. If you expect to get drug tested upon your return home, however, avoid all products with coca, drink plenty of water and look into Diamox Sequels in USA or Glaucozol in Peru(drug: Acetazolamide) (available at a pharmacy) to help deal with the adjustment period. Acetazolamide is a diurectic (so, you will be peeing every 2 hours, quite annoying). Another option (probably the best) is the famous Sorojchi Pills (drugs: Acetylsalicylic Acid, Salofeno and Cafeine).
To avoid upset stomach doctors recommend that you drink only bottled water and avoid uncooked vegetables and fruits that you haven't peeled, even in hotels.
- Clinica San Josè, Av. Los Incas 1408-B, +51 84 253295. Should you get sick this is an excellent private clinic, also advised by locals, providing general and specialist assistance with all the modern medical diagnostic apparels. Usually they provide a private room with two beds, one for the patient and one for an accompanying person but be sure to carry a travel insurance with you otherwise be prepared to pay a lot of money. They'll get in contact with your insurance company to arrange things in order to have the latter paying directly the clinic on your exit. Personnel speaking English is generally available and they are prepared to assist foreigners.
- Hampi Land A clinic located on Choquechaka street just a few blocks away from the Plaza de Armas, and about one block away from "Jack's Restaurant".
- Hotel Doctor Internacional is a service that will dispatch a doctor to your hotel room usually within 10 to 15 minutes. For a very reasonable price the doctor will come equipped with medications and provide the traveler with the proper insurance forms for reimbursement. They are available 24 hours, 7 days a week at +51 17 085586 or by cell phone +51 9953-74658, US tollfree 1-800-869-4713. English and German spoken.