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“An incredible experience”
Review of Cusco

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SEattle
1 review
2 helpful votes
“An incredible experience”
Reviewed April 24, 2009

Important to mention a month ago I was lucky enough to know Peru. I went to Lima and Cuzco, there I found all wonders of the Incas Empire.
I first had fears but then I experience all the developments in that country. Comfortable Hotels , good people and always predisposed to support the visitor.I made good contacts over there and i really hope to come back soon. I recommend visit that country .For any advice fell free to contact me.


Try the Bungy Jumpling, its amazing

Mark

Helpful?
2 Thank SEattleWorldwalker
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
los angeles, ca
Level 2 Contributor
4 reviews
10 helpful votes
“heaven on earth”
Reviewed April 19, 2009

Went at end of March for one week. Absolutely gorgeous/majestic sights! Living greenery at all the historic sites visited. Some say, March is the best time of year to visit for the green that you see. Weather was lovely in the 70's. Some light rain and sunny days.
We did not suffer from altitude sickness - we drank mate de coca everyday and remembered to take deep breaths frequently and kept hydrated.

Accommodations: stayed at a hostel, Piccola Locanda for the week at less than $20/night, had complimentary breakfast and internet. Excellent experience.

Tips for your trip (I wish I knew beforehand):
1) Keep your immigration stub/paperwork. You need this and passport to get home. (I say this because I almost threw my stub away)
2) Dress in layers as there may be light rain and very warm sun at some parts of the day. A light warm jacket will do. Good walking shoes are a must. Travel with a light backpack/bag that will free up your hands. There are plenty of stairs/hiking at these historic sites so this is not a destination trip for those with ambulation problems or for young children. Children, 12 and older should do fine. Bring a bottle of water with you at all times.
3) Bring crisp, untorn bills (some exchange shops do not accept the smallest tear on your bills - who knew?). Larger bills are better as the small bills do not get a good exchange rate (found this out the hard way). Exchange rate was up to 3.13 soles for one dollar -US. Betert to exchange at the main square - just get enough at the airport for the taxi.
4) Macchu Picchu - bring your passport as they have an official stamp for it. Best to get to Ollantaytambo (an hour away from the main square) for the earliest train out to Macchu Picchu. If you leave from the main square, you won't get to Macchu Picchu until noon. Unless you buy a tourist pkg, you will have to purchase your train ticket at least a day before for Macchu Picchu at the train/bus station - oh and ask for the left side (driver side) of the train for the more scenic view IF you're not going to sleep. Be prepared to spend about $70-100 for this fieldtrip (ie. taxi, train, bus, and food)
5) Food - most of the food was salty and starchy. We were craving for spice - pepper is not even offered. BIG disappointment - from the mercados/local vendors to the fine dining restaurants. No recommendations here.
6) Transportation - taxis are knowledgeable, fast and convenient and work at all hours of the night; can probably enlist a preferred taxi driver to chaffeur you for the duration of your trip). Locals travel by combis (vw vans) or buses (for longer distances) for cheap (1-3 soles) - if you don't mind the crowded/sometimes only standing room, this is the way to travel.
7) Shopping - can negotiate with local vendors, will get the best price if you hold your ground. Can wait to purchase at the end of your trip unless you go to a historic site where some things are not offered at the main square (ex. walking sticks only at Ollantaytambo, I found out too late).
8) Safety - felt relatively safe as there are a LOT of tourists, people are very helpful. There were a lot of tourist police (some who assisted in finding my lost camera in Sacsayhuaman!). Oh and don't try to take Coca leaves home - it's illegal.
9) Language - many of vendors/shop owners speak Spanish, some difference in intonation (very helpful to travel with a friend who speaks fluent Spanish like I did). Otherwise, there are a few people there that speak limited English.
10) I recommend taking a duffel bag of clothes/shoes/school supplies to donate to the poor locals (esp. Chincero). Then you can take that empty bag and fill with souveneirs home. Many locals that we met had not even been to Macchu Picchu, so please be generous. It felt great to be able to give.

LOVES: Chincero and our children guides, Macchu Picchu, Mate de coca, the colorful fabrics and local artisans work and the Quechua language/culture, spiritual healing.

If I went back to Peru, I would do the Huayna Picchu hike (light rain and paranoia made me avoid) and the Inca trail (didn't think I would make it).

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3 Thank sunnsoul
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Tennessee
Level 2 Contributor
3 reviews
7 helpful votes
“Cuzco, Peru, a great destination”
Reviewed March 13, 2009

We traveled to Peru in August of 2007, which is springtime in South America. Our primary goal was a 3-night, 4-day guided horse trek into the Andes, culminating in a day at Machu Picchu. However, this review will concentrate only on Cuzco (also spelled, Cusco).

Cuzco claims to be the highest city in the world at about 11,000 ft. We arrived there 3 days prior to our horse trek and it was a good thing. Beside the great activities available in Cuzco, having three days to become acclimated to the elevation before going even higher in the Andes was very important.

The tourist areas in and around Cuzco are interesting. There is much to explore with great architecture, history, cultural sights and events, restaurants, and shopping. The city was established by the Incas and was their capital until being conquered by the Spanish over 400 years ago. Most of the buildings existing today in the old part of the city are Spanish architecture built upon Inca foundations.

Traveler tips:
When in Cuzco, take your time getting acclimated to the elevation. Walk casually, take time to rest in one of the many plazas, and drink plenty of water. Your hotel will likely have complimentary coffee service and cacao tea in the lobby. The tea is supposed to help with fatigue and altitude discomfort. Tap water is not potable anywhere. Buy bottled water and if you don’t like it carbonated, always specify, “sin gas” (without gas). At restaurants bottled water is an extra cost. As a somewhat thrifty soul I found that running a pot of tap water through the coffee maker in our hotel room in Cuzco, then cooling in the room’s refrigerator provided us most of a days supply while in town.

Street vendors are everywhere. If you don’t want to interact with them when they approach you, just don’t make eye contact and say, “No, gracias, no,” and they’ll leave you alone. If you do want to get some cheap souvenirs then by all means give them your business, as that is probably their only livelihood. When buying more than one item, or any relatively expensive item, it is fine to bargain. Look to pay 75-80% of asking price. We also used one of these vendors to “guide” us to a few places on our tourist map, giving her a few soles (about 3:1 U.S.) each time, and then bought a few of the socks she was selling as well (they came in handy at night in the mountains).

You’ll find beautiful jewelry and alpaca wool products to buy, and many of the better shops have demonstration areas and mini-tours. Your hotel should be able to set you up with a professional “arranger” who will provide transportation to selected shops for free (they get a fee, or a commission on whatever you buy from the shop). Bargaining in these upper end shops usually means 10% off your total bill, or 5% if you use a credit card. We used credit cards and negotiated a 7.5% discount. If you are a great shopper, or are spending a lot you can probably get a better deal. Research alpaca products at home before going, so that you know what kind of deal you are getting.

When shopping in rural areas you will often find very good deals on quality hand made jewelry and wool products and can negotiate to about 70-80% of the asking price. Since there are fewer middlemen in these areas you can be better assured that your dollars are going directly to the people who made the crafts.

Lock all valuables in your room safe or in your lockable luggage. If you store some of your luggage in the hotel while on a side trip, use locking luggage. There is a high probability that you will not have jewelry and other valuables when you return if you don’t.

Only take taxis that are identified with a company. In downtown Cuzco the fare was about 3 soles ($1) per ride, 6 soles to/from the airport or other outlying areas.

Do try the pisco sours – a very tasty kick. Also try alpaca meat – my very favorite food while there. We did try guinea pig out on the trail, but would not recommend it other than as an experience.

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4 Thank TrailRiderTN
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New York City, New York
1 review
5 helpful votes
“Peru Trip Report and Impressions”
Reviewed March 6, 2009

I realize that I keep getting requests for information from friends -- so why not just share my trip with the tripadvisor community, rather than typing over and over again! Thus this is a long overdue trip report for my post-bar trip to Peru. This was the second half of my trip - I actually started in Equador and went to the Galapagos first. (you can check that forum for my trip report also).

This is about my stay in Cusco and hiking the Inca Trail.

Adjusting to Cusco: I really liked Cusco - it's very charming! You might need to plan for a few days beforehand though, to adjust to the altitude. I didn't find it necessary to take altitude sickness pills, but one of my friends started taking it before we got there and she thought it helped her. Another one of my friends got sick while there (she was throwing up) but there are plenty of pills you can buy while there (she got the ones called Soroachi).

Altitude sickness is like having a hangover, I think - headaches, with some dizziness. Drinking coca tea definitely helped me. I advise dumping a lot of sugar in it though, unless you really like drinking leafy-tasting beverages.

Places to Stay in Cusco: We stayed at the Hotel Rumi Punku while there. It is located in a really good area very close to the square. You can find cheaper lodgings, but I'd advise you to be careful about what part of the city it's in. Ours was very safe, and they posted a guard outside at night. Also, the door had a buzzer and lock on it at all times. It was also very clean and there was a very good complimentary breakfast. So we chose that for those reasons.

I personally am not that paranoid about my personal safety when I travel (probably dumb) but if you are, Rumi Punku is a good bet. It ran $105/night for 3 people when I stayed there this past September. This would be on the pricey side of things... I think. We'd actually booked at a cheaper hotel for when we returned from the hike, but we fell in love with the Rumi Punku so decided to switch and stay with them!

Things to Eat in Cusco: I loved the restaurant inside the Precolombino museum - it's called the MAP Cafe, and it is this tiny restaurant encased in a glass box inside the courtyard of the museum. We went there twice and loved it both times. Their pork belly was really good, the desserts were delicious, and they have very good wines. It's pricey for Peru, but I think it's well worth the price given the value. I think it'll come out to about $20-30 per person...? Not positive. We also went to the very fancy restaurant, Restaurante Illary, (where I tried alpaca for the first time) which was nice, especially for ambience, but I liked the food at MAP better.

For more casual fare, you should eat pizza in Cusco because they use really good brick ovens to make a crispy chewy crust. I ate at Chez Maggy (they have multiple locations throughout the city) and I thought it was quite good. Also, if you or your travel mates are adventurous, you should consider trying alpaca, guinea pig (called "cuy" - a delicacy there), and chicharron - fried pork.

Sightseeing in and around Cusco: You absolutely have to do the Sacred Valley loop. There're some ruins right outside Cusco - of these, I think Sacsayhuaman is a must-see. I loved that site a lot. I think it was my favorite. I think key sites to see in the Sacred Valley are Ollantaytambo and Chinchero, with Pisac, Tipon, Moray and Maras being optional but highly recommended.

IMHO, you should get a private driver (we asked our hotel to recommend one), because the buses are extremely commercial and they end up driving you to markets and restaurants instead of the actual sites. The ruins are also quite spread apart, so if you go on your own you avoid crowds and you see a lot more.

Other than that, just talk a walk around the city square and some of the small narrow streets. The foundations - the roads - are amazing!! The twelve sided stone is huuuge. It's hard to believe that this stuff has been put together without any mortar or cement. You can also really tell the difference between the original and the later structures. I also went to the Temple of Q'oricancha, but actually didn't find it that impressive.

Hiking the Inca Trail: this was really fun, although for some people it seemed more arduous and painful than fun or relaxing! It can be a hard climb, especially the second day (it is called the Dead Woman's pass for a reason...j/k. All the tour guides say that it is called this because of the shape of the mountain - but most hikers will tell you it is because you climb endless, endless steps - only to descend them all again) and especially if you have altitude sickness.

Speaking of that - most tour groups will require you to pay the remaining balance on your trip in person at their office at least two days before your trip departure. This is their way of ensuring that you are there long enough to acclimate to the altitude. So figure that into your planning!

I really recommend going with a reputable tour agency. They provide better tour guides who speak English (I guess this isn't a concern if you speak Spanish) and they treat their porters well. After arduous research I went with Llama Path, but I also looked into United Mice, Pachamama Explorers, and Andean Adventures. Obviously I can't speak for the others, but I really have nothing but praise and rave reviews for Llama Path. They were clean, orderly, had brand new tents, good food. The porters were amazing, and outfitted and equipped well. (They made us a cake our last night!!) Our tour guide was really great - taught us so much not only about the history and symbolism of the sites, but also about nature. He collected mint leaves on our way, and we had fresh brewed mint tea in our tents after dinner. Delicious!

We got to the actual Machu Picchu site pretty late on our hike, so there was no time to hike Huayna Picchu, which was too bad because we'd heard about just how amazing the view is from up there. If you have the chance, you should probably hike up there!

Finally, hikes of the Inca are permit only (limited to 500 per day) so I think you're best off booking early, especially if you're going during peak season (which I think is June through Sept. The trail is closed in Feb). But i've heard that other hikes, like the Lares, are really pretty too.

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5 Thank allisunni
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
California
Level 1 Contributor
3 reviews
6 helpful votes
“Machu Picchu, Scared Valley, Cusco, Peru-”
Reviewed January 8, 2009

Dec 2008
What an amazing place, filled with history and beauty.
We had to go thru Lima, Peru to get there. I do not recommend Lima. Very polluted and did not feel welcome, but it is necessary to fly to and from Cusco.

Cusco is a wonderful town full of history and beauty.. We stayed 3 nights only. Should have stayed longer, there is so much to see. Peolple were very friendly. We took day trips from Cusco to Machu Picchu, the Scared Valley and the area around Cusco. The dome train to Machu Picchu had excellent service and spectacular views. Our guide, Alvin, was great. Do not miss the Scared Valley tour. It is like heaven. We want to go back!

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2 Thank RRanchCalifornia
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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