"Cusco - Capital of the Inca Empire" Top 5 Page for this destination Cuzco by jadedmuse

Cuzco Travel Guide: 212 reviews and 527 photos

Cusco is a charming city that really marries together European colonial with ancient indigenous elements, resulting in fabulous architectural monuments, ruins, cathedrals, temples and artwork. It was the beloved capital of the ancient Incan empire - and it is the oldest continuously inhabited city in the Western Hemisphere.

Cusco sits at approximately 11,000 feet of altitude (3360 meters?). We arrived in Cusco around 7:00 am, and from our pre-travel material, I knew we were supposed to go immediately to our hotel, drink coca tea, and then lie down so that we could give our bodies a better chance to acclimate. As it was, we'd be acclimating over an almost three day period. But......overcome with excitement together with my general hard-headedness, I decided to explore the town immediately, instead of napping. Naps are for old farts and fat people. I was neither, so I didn't see how that rule applied to me.

Boy, was that a mistake! I literally ran up and down the hilly town, delighted to be on my own with nothing but my vivid imagination and the opportunity to observe the city and its inhabitants as they awakened from the night's slumber.....I snapped photos of women dressed in colorful ponchos and strangely shaped hats, children leading llamas down an alley - I entered art galleries and textile boutiques, watched people set up their looms as they began to weave; I chatted with shopkeepers and even bought a necklace and a piece of woodwork. I marvelled at finally seeing up close, actual painting styles and portraits hailing from the Cusco School of Art (which is not a "school" per se, it's a style that is unique to Peru, with an interesting history (see my "Local Customs" tip) and internationally reknown by art critics.) I was running on adrenaline and magic!.

Oblivious to what lay ahead of me in terms of pain and agony, I recall skipping back down the cobbled streets, past the beautiful cathedral in the main square and back to our hotel in time to change and get ready for our afternoon bus tour. Yeah, I'd had my magical moments (four solid hours) of solitude and unfettered exploration, so I was in a more generous mood to tolerate the legions of what I considered to be "tourists" (vs "travelers" which is how I consider myself!)

By the time I reached the hotel, my head was pounding. At first I attributed it to the fact that I hadn't eaten since the previous day - so I made myself a coca tea and nibbled on some local pastry and waited for the headache to go away.

I was able to join the bus tour which included such fantastic Cusco sites as Koricancha, Sacsayhuaman, and Tambomachay. But after the second stop, I was so dizzy and nauseous I mostly stayed on the bus and prayed for the pain to go away. I spent that night alternately crying and throwing up!

I was pretty weak the next day but the headache had subsided somewhat. Nothing that some GIANT CORN (see my "Local Customs tip") and fresh avocados couldn't cure!

I was back to my normal self by the time we departed for our magical 4- day Inca Trek to Machu Picchu.

  • Intro Updated May 2, 2004
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Reviews (23)

Comments (33)

  • staindesign's Profile Photo
    Jul 4, 2009 at 3:52 PM

    Hello!! I was wondering about the acclimation you experienced. How much time would you expect it takes to feel alright? I'm only able to go to Cusco for 3 days and I want to make sure i'll get to see Machu Picchu!

  • jadedmuse's Profile Photo
    Apr 5, 2009 at 5:58 PM

    Merpanda, tks for the comment on Matic Hands guy. Good to know and somehow not all that surprising. I may go back and review that tip and add in your "buyer beware". Gracias! M

  • Mar 26, 2009 at 11:41 AM

    The guy at Magic Hands is also a scam artist. If he tries to sell you an expensive amulet to heal your energy problem or gives you a mood meditation beware! He uses the same stories on everyone.

  • rodrigobrrio's Profile Photo
    Dec 1, 2008 at 10:56 AM

    Hi nice page on Peru. Im considering a 4-day trip to Cusco, do u think its too short? How did u get to Cusco from Lima, Bus? How long?? Thanks

  • FruitLover's Profile Photo
    Mar 31, 2007 at 4:11 AM

    ahalan achoti! Okay, giant corn, altitude sickness, Coca tea, Pisco Sour - achla! But what about FRUIT'S ADDICTED people??? this new page is thirsty for fruity stories/ pics: "Peru - Fruitlovers' Paradise" - Peru Travelogue by FruitLover

  • greentea1962's Profile Photo
    Jul 31, 2006 at 11:19 PM

    You saved me from altitude sickness by virtue of this VT page! I am forever in your debt.

  • elpariente's Profile Photo
    Jun 15, 2006 at 6:35 AM

    I really enjoyed your Cuzco pages.You did a great job

  • tak_pap's Profile Photo
    Jun 8, 2006 at 10:50 PM

    fantastic presentation & site.... Bravo

  • VeronicaG's Profile Photo
    Dec 18, 2005 at 3:04 PM

    Cuzco is an amazing place--thanks for sharing it with V.T. I think I experienced a bit of altitude sickness when visiting Chile...

  • Sininen's Profile Photo
    Nov 5, 2005 at 10:06 PM

    Hi Michele! What a wonderful page about Cusco! Makes me want to go back there! Excellent work. Rainy greetings from Southern Finland, Sini


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