Cusco has had a central position in Inca mythology. Legend tells that the first Inca, Manco Capàc, was told by the ancestral sun God Inti, to find the qosq’o (navel of the earth). After a long journey, Manco found the city of Cusco (in Quechua qosq’o), which became the centre of the Inca Empire.
As for today, thanks to the Incas ‘lost’ city Machu Picchu, which was rediscovered in 1911, Cusco has become a touristic rendezvous. Cusco is a colonial splendor built on the foundations of the Incas. The Plaza de Armas, once the centre of the Inca capital, has become a flourishing colonial square. The flag that represents the rainbow, sacred to the Incas, often mistaken with the gay-pride banner, is much loved. In my opinion, Cusco is Peru’s most touristic city and with “extremely touristic city” comes great nightlife, high prices and a lot of sales persons, luckily this time we did not get caught!
Cusco is surrounded by several archeological ruins; Machu Picchu being the most popular one is part of Howard Hillmans Man-made “7 Wonders of the world” list. (As some additional knowledge, I have listed the “Travel Wonders of the World” by Wikipedia on the blog, under the pictures).
Several trekking paths lead up to Machu Picchu, the most popular, being the Inca trail, a 4 days hike to Machu Picchu that requires a trek permit. Tour operators sell the tour at 450$pp. This, as you can imagine, was not really in our budget. Thanks to our friend Dale Atkinson, we managed to find a trek to Machu Picchu that we could complete without a guide, the Salcantay trail. Tour operators sell this trek for 200$ pp for 4 days of camping. We completed the trek in 6 days, spend two nights in a hotel and in total, spend 75€pp, of which we paid 45€ to Valerio, the Peruvian horse man, who really needed and really got the money.
The Machu Picchu entrance costs 35€, about 1000 people get in on daily bases, which makes an approximate daily revenue on entrances of 35 000€ a day. The private bus company charges tourists 7$, to get them up to Machu Picchu, which is a 45 minutes hike. That company makes an approximate revenue of 65OO$ a day. Its makes a lot of money for a country where more than half of the population lives below poverty level.
Accommodation in Cusco Peru, Hospedaje El Artesano, Double room, private bathroom, kitchen, laundry, 15 soles pp. Suytucato 790 (pedestrian), next to Plaza San Blas Tel.: 084263968 Cel.:984404075.
Restauration in Cusco Peru, Mercado Central
Dancing in Cusco Peru, Mama Africa, Disco Pub, 2 floors, house music & salsa, happy hour 8:30-11:00 PM, www.mamaafrikaclub.com, on the Plaza de Armas.
Wachuma, Reggae bar with live percussion, Facebook Wachuma, Calle Tecsecocha 415
Watch out! We have been told at the tourism information centre that Machu Picchu was unreachable by the alternative routes, as the Salcantay trail. After having talked to Dale who just got back from the trek, we realised how important it is to talk to other travellers.