First days in Cusco7 min read
Before we tell you stories from Peru it’s worth mentioning our failure. Only after some time, it turned out to be a funny story. Having no access to the internet in Planet Costa Rica (you can read our experience here) we totally mixed up the dates and missed our flight from San Jose to Lima and the one after from Lima to Cusco. That meant catching another two but luckily the prices weren’t so high.
Note: In order to leave Costa Rica, we had to pay Exit Tax 29$(~22.5£)
BEST TIME TO VISIT
Everyone says from May till October is the best time to visit. During these months there is a small chance of rain but the temperature will drop. Our friends travelled in July and Rainbow Mountain was covered with snow – this can seriously affect the journey. Our trip was planned at the end of April, right before the peak season. In our opinion, this is the ultimate time to plan an itinerary. Expect a lot of rain between November and April. From our experience, we would recommend avoiding Easter. Semana Santa is the most celebrated holiday all across Latin America. This means lots of traffic, delayed journeys, processions etc.
WHERE TO START
Cusco needs no introduction. One thing to mention that centuries ago it used to be a capital of the Inca Empire. Nowadays it attracts thousands of tourists per year because of its rich history and ancient ruins. The culture of indigenous people here is still alive. There is so much to do in the city and around. The whole region around Cusco, Machu Picchu and villages nearby are called The Sacred Valley. Why Sacred? You have to visit and experience it yourself. Words and pictures don’t do it justice but here is the short story of our trip.
Cusco sets on 3,399 meters above the sea level. That being said, you will need some time to acclimatize with the altitude. Don’t attempt any hikes or tours for at least two days. Take this time to wander around and drink Mate de coca to help you ease altitude sickness and problems with digestion.
Planning to visit Machu Picchu? Consider a limited number of tickets (2500 per day) and book it in advance! For some reason, it is very difficult to book it online. We found the best guidance here.
THINGS DO TO IN THE CITY
- Plaza de Armas: the main square with lots of souvenir shops and restaurants, a great place to absorb the history of the city, watch Inca traditional people and the old buildings dating colonial times,
- San Blas: the most picturesque neighbourhood of Cusco, narrow streets will lead you to the most bohemian places in town, lots of charming cafes with stunning views,
- Artesanias Llancaqmaki: don’t forget about artisan markets in Peru! – lots of vendors display souvenirs and Quechua clothing, that’s where we got our ponchos from!
- Eat traditional food: we found so many great restaurants with local food, plenty of vegan versions available, not to mention everything was super cheap and delicious!
- Try Peruvian coffee: we are coffee lovers and we urge you to visit at least a few coffee shops in Cusco, their coffee is incredible!
WHERE TO STAY
- Backpacker La Bo’M: cool owner and affordable rooms, perfect location and super cosy cafe
- Pariwana Hostel: perfect for solo travellers, they organise little parties so beware of drinking alcohol day before hiking!
- Kokopelli Hostel: mid-range hostel with some of the best designs, the staff is really helpful and will help to organise lots of tours,
- Airbnb: lots of affordable options with the walking distance to San Blas,
WHERE TO EAT
- Green Point: do yourself a favour and visit this plant-based joint at least once and you will be spoilt by Menu del Dia for 15S(~3.5£), don’t leave without having Tiramisu!
- Vida Vegan Bistro: probably the best quinoa soup in town, we also had Causa – traditional starter made from potatoes and avocado,
- Govinda Lila: Menu del Dia costs only 10S(~2.35£), located in the local supermarket, prepare for an authentic experience with locals!
- Shaman Restaurant: simple and cheap, yet healthy and delicious food, most of the dishes are raw and gluten-free, good value for money,
- Prasada: a mix of western and Indian food, they exchange meals for jacket or sleeping bag, the best Pad Thai in town!