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davidx Cusco - A travel report by David
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Cusco,  Peru - flag Peru -  Cusco
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davidx's travel reports

Cusco and nearby Inca sites.

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Cusco, once capital of the Incan empire, is possibly the best known city in Peru, next to Lima. It is a great place – but its location close to so many remains is a major part of its appeal. report of the month contest
Sep 2005

Plaza de Armas
Plaza de Armas
Cusco has been called the ‘Navel of the Universe.’ I suppose its location, surrounded by major mountains, might earn it this title but I think it deserves a less ambiguous one. Like many fine cities, Cusco has experienced urban sprawl and here the direction of the sprawl is upwards so that suburbs can be seen climbing the mountain sides, some containing blocks of small residences separated by steep steps that may well make the Incas turn in their graves. However, even this looks good from a distance, particularly just after sunset as the lights are coming on. However the main sights of Cusco itself are all close to the Plaza de Armas and there’s no difficulty in walking between them. We did this a number of times because I stayed in Cusco longer than I had planned, a stay that included a night in a clinic [see my Andahuaylillas report for the story. I will simply say here that there are thousands of places where the experience would have been far, far worse.] To be held in Cusco is hardly a fate worse than death!
There are numerous buildings that contain Inca walls, particularly on their lower parts – and in a road above the Cathedral there is a famous octagonal stone, all its edges perfectly set against other stones with the characteristic Inca look of having been cut with a giant cheese knife. However in the city itself the greatest appeal probably is that of the Spanish centre built to impress all who saw it after the defeat of the Incas. The Plaza de Armas itself is superb with the Cathedral and the huge Jesuit church competing for pride of place on different side of the square, with balconies above the arcaded shops forming most of the rest, nearly all given to restaurants. Behind the Jesuit church there’s a colourful market for textiles and souvenirs. The giant and intriguing food market is farther away near the station. Of the museums I particularly commend the Inca and the Regional History ones. Impressive churches are too numerous to name.

Favourite spots:
Preparing for a festival
Preparing for a festival
Although there are so many good remains, I’ve no difficulty in choosing as favourite the remains of the great fortress of Sachsaywaman, only about 2 km from the city – but a mighty steep way to walk! We went here as part of our trip with a guide and loved it so much that we returned on our own and warded off would-be guides on our last day in Cusco so that we could see far more and soak up the wonderful atmosphere. In the walls at the lower level of the fortress there are any number of giant stones, brought from some distance away. At higher levels there is use of these massive stones and much smaller ones together. At the very top there is a restricted zone containing the foundations of what was a circular watch tower. Of course Macchu Piccu occupies a site of prodigious splendour but I’m assured by people who have seen both that there is far less post-Incan reconstruction at Sachsaywaman. Nearby there’s a huge statue of Christ the Redeemer, modelled on the famous Rio monument.

What's really great:
Right through the rock
Right through the rock
The ruins at Quenco are a few km past those at Sachsaywaman. Each set of ruins, although they have features in common, has unique features to make it memorable to visitors. At Quenco there is a massive ‘imported’ carved rock standing just outside of buildings and streets hewn out of a natural outcrop. It’s difficult to describe verbally the impact of a street tunnelled right through the outcrop and of an adjacent tomb. I hope the picture will give a better impression. I take the chance to point out that entry to all the sites mentioned here and to a number of places in Cusco itself is obtained by the use of a single tourist ticket which can be purchased at any of the sites or at the Avenida del Sol in the city.

At Tambo Machay
At Tambo Machay
Two other sites well worth visiting are those of Tambo Machay and Puca Pucara, within a very short distance of each other well out beyond Quenco. A taxi from the hotel giving us as long as we wanted at each and then taking us back to Sachsaywaman and another from there back to the hotel cost us a total equivalent to just over £8 for the pair of us – hardly an arm and a leg!
Tambo Machay was associated with water but it was difficult to take it in because of extensive preservation work going on at the time – pity I can’t see myself going again because I’d love to see it when the work is finished.
Puca Pucara is probably the least impressive in itself, consisting of remains of a smallish watch tower and fort, but is remarkable for the view overlooking one route from Sachsaywaman to Macchu Piccu.

At Puca Pucara
At Puca Pucara
For the part of the time we’d planned to be in Cusco we stayed at the Plaza Cusco II hotel. This is a very friendly place with rooms set above a courtyard where breakfast was served daily. Unusually for the places we stayed there were effective plug-in heaters in most rooms.
The hotel is quite willing to hold in store the bulk of your baggage if you are going to stay somewhere else for the night and then return and they are most helpful in advising on and arranging taxi trips to the surrounding places of interest.
It’s only about 7 minutes from the Plaza de Armas and there are at least two good places to eat very close.

Near San Francisco, Cusco
Near San Francisco, Cusco
The Cross Keys, as its name suggests, is an English-style pub on the first and second floors of one of the buildings around the Plaza de Armas. [1st and 2nd floors as in England, meaning 1st and 2nd up. In Peru they call it second and third, ground floor being called first.]

Pam gives perspective, Sachsaywaman
Pam gives perspective, Sachsaywaman
Los Perros [the dogs] is a good place for a group of people, at the end of Tigre near the hotel above. The chilli rolls are particularly good as a starter and the alpaca steak is delicious. [1s or 2s may find themselves moved to allow groups to allow groups room to sit together.
A small restaurant with Andean food, whose name I forget, reached by turning right for a short distance from the hotel [same side of the road] is excellent with cheap menus.
‘A Mi Manera’ [go up from the P de A with the cathedral on your left and you will find it on your left] was the place chosen by our tour leaders for our final meal – excellent food with a great Andean band easily arranged.

Other recommendations:
The 'imported' rock', Qenco
The 'imported' rock', Qenco
I don’t recommend needing one but you might like to know what I made of the clinic. The visiting cardiologist was extremely good and spoke considerable English. The X-ray machine was reminiscent of a film about the 30s but apparently efficient enough. Blood tests and supplements of various chemicals by drip were OK.
However general nursing care left a bit to be desired – the exception being one young and pretty nurse who seemed to regard me as a sort of pet, stroking me and trying to dress me in my wool hat and gloves for the night! Some room heating might have been more to the point!
They were certainly efficient at charging – including $100 for what I am convinced was far more oxygen than I needed.
Anyone impressed by the food [which literally added vomiting to my woes] must have a terribly hard life at home.

Published on Sunday October 23th, 2005

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Sat, Nov 05 2005 - 06:49 PM rating by akhila

I enjoyed this report too. I'm curious about the 'imported' rock.(imported from where?, when?).

Sat, Nov 05 2005 - 11:19 AM rating by vbx000

I really enjoyed this report! I hope you are feeling better. I really want to visit SA one day. And, I think you're reports will be handy when I do.

I need to catch up on your reports since I've been gone.

Wed, Oct 26 2005 - 02:10 PM rating by magsalex

Very informative.

Mon, Oct 24 2005 - 12:10 PM rating by eirekay

David, Wonderful report! You captured the heart of Cusco so well!

Sun, Oct 23 2005 - 02:12 PM rating by rangutan

Very detailed and interesting report again....

Sun, Oct 23 2005 - 12:18 PM rating by mistybleu


Your extended time in Cusco seems to have added to your tour (minus the hospital visit). You explained the area really well and a whole lot of memories came flooding back.

I really enjoyed this report.

Sun, Oct 23 2005 - 07:59 AM rating by jesusferro

Magnific report! I hope you now are all right.

Sun, Oct 23 2005 - 06:19 AM rating by isaacmolina

Alwaya your reports are interesants

Sun, Oct 23 2005 - 04:19 AM rating by miguelmarchi

wonderful, but you always have problems in Peru!

Sun, Oct 23 2005 - 04:12 AM rating by gloriajames

hello david!
thanks for another interesting report!!!!
well done

Sun, Oct 23 2005 - 03:01 AM rating by toribio


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