We arrived early in the morning in Cusco after a comfortable night on the bus with Cruz del Sur. We still had some sleep to catch up from our short night in Arequipa, so we relaxed for half a day in our guesthouse.
We went for a nice lunch in the centro historico called Cicciolina for yummy Peruvian tapas with duck, trucha and albahaca.
Cusco is easy to discover by foot, so we took a stroll over the Plaza de Armas admiring the mix of colonial and Inca architecture. In the main cathedral you can find a painting of the Last Supper Inca Style with a Guinea pig being served.
Just two blocks down is the Santo Domingo convent that was built on top of the most sacred Inca temple in Cusco. The building and especially gardens (which allegedly have been full of treasure) are worth the visit – don’t go in the afternoon – all the guided tours head there and it gets crowded.
In the evening the 3600 meters altitude hit us and we fell into bed.
Cusco is flushed with tourists, vendors (paintings, llama photos or massage) and many guided tours. We chose one of the free city tours to get a good overview of the city. Elvis, our Quechua guide, led us through the colorful history of the town. We also got to visit the local Andean market with the usual juices and fruits but also beheaded pigs and llama fetuses (the latter are used for ceremonies). One of our highlights of the tour was the site of Cusicancha, tucked away in a side street and free of charge, this is told to be Pachacutec’s birth place.
The third day we climbed the steep steps up to Sacsayhuaman. We took a local guide as we didn’t want to go with one of the City tours that just rushes by the sites. Unfortunately our guide was really bad and we had to research more information by ourselves. The site itself is huge and very impressive. Until now only speculations about its use and meaning for the Incas. It is believed that this religious center displaying the Milky Way was built by Pachacutec.
With the ticket you can visit 4 sites but we decided to visit just two. A few minutes walking uphill of Sacsa the small site of Quenqo was used for animal sacrifices in the Inca times.
In the afternoon we checked out the San Blas area with its narrow, charming streets. For our last dinner in Cusco we headed to an Indian place in this quirky neighborhood.
Cusco is a beautiful city nestled in the Andean highlands but unfortunately overrun by tourists.
- Hostal Eureka San Blas: right in town, nice spacious rooms and amazing breakfast. Medium price range
- Cicciolina restaurant: nice interior good food
- Capriccio cafe: best cakes in town. Try the Tres leche cake!
- El Museo del Pisco: for amazing but strong drinks
- Free walking tours by foot leave 2x a day