Cusco is located at 3,399 masl. It is one of the highest cities in elevation in the world. Visitors are advised a day or
two of rest upon arriving in order to get acclimatized. During these days, getting enough sleep, eating small portions,
drinking liquids (coca tea is recommended), and avoiding strenuous activities are said to be effective for feeling
great despite the change in elevation.
This magnificent city is full of life and endless options.  For those who like to feel closer to nature, horse back riding
is an excellent and unique way to visit the ruins around the city.  These generally include Sacsayhuaman, Qenqo,
Tambomachay, and Puca Pucara.  There is no need to know how to ride a horse.  A guide or horse master goes
along and leads your horse if you want him or her to.   For those interested in extreme sports, hang gliding over the
Andes Mountains, canoeing, and kayaking are available.  And if you prefer land, you can mountain bike.   If you are
a night owl, you might enjoy dancing the night away or a conversation with friends in a pub.   This is easy to do in
Cusco, which offers something for everyone, from a variety of dance clubs, quiet bars, bohemian pubs and discos.   
If any of these activities sound appealing to you, be sure to ask your TravelAndes representative for further
Historical Insight on Cusco
Cusco was once the capital of the Inca Empire and contains
incredible remains of ancient pre Inca and Inca civilizations.   In
the 1500s, Spain colonized Peru and now mixtures of colonial
and Inca architecture make up a great part of the city.  A great
example of this is Inca Garcilaso´s home (on the right), which
shows an Inca wall as a foundation for a characteristic colonial
home built on top.
When people think of Cusco, they usually think of the Inca
culture, but did you know that before the Incas there were other
civilizations that lived in the Andes?
The oldest establishments in the department of Cusco have
been found in the communities of Yauri and Chumbivilcas and
date back to the year 5,000 B.C.  In the valley of the actual city
of  Cusco, human presence dates back to 1,000 B.C. time
period in which small communities dedicated to agriculture and
animal herding lived in Marcavalle located on the east side of
the present-day city.
Inca Garcilaso's home
Before the Incas arrived in Cusco around 1,200 A.C. Cusco was
host to other civilizations, records show influences from the
Chavin, Huari, Killke, Lucre, Choquepuqio (or Qaranqayniyuj)
cultures, among others.  On the left you can view the pre-Inca
archeological site of Pikillaqta (flea city or city of fleas) located on
the southwestern part of Cusco, which is the main structure
representing the Huari civilization.
According to the Inca tradition, there were two brothers called the
Ayar Brothers who constantly gained territory in the valley either
by force or through alliances to establish what is now the city of
Cusco, then called Acamama.  The Incas were more advanced in
knowledge and skills than the earlier civilizations.
Pre-Incan ruins: Pikillaqta
For almost two centuries the Incas established themselves in the tall and central part of the valley of Cusco and
initially their territory grew slowly.  Although, historians have recollected detailed information about the first Inca
governors; its hard to give credibility to these records.  For that reason confirmed dates are considered only from
Inca Pachacutec´s reign.
  • Its History: Cusco probably has the richest history of all cities in South America. It was once called
    Tawantinsuyo and it was the capital of the Inca Empire, which included parts of Ecuador, Bolivia, Argentina,
    and Chile. In the 1500s, the Spaniards used a variety of tactics to destroy the Inca Empire. Today, Cusco is
    mix of both Incan and colonial cultures. This mix can be viewed in people’s believes, amongst others.  For
    instance, it’s common for people to ask the Apus (mountains) to protect them or to thank the Mama Pacha
    (mother earth) for its crops.  At the same time, some of these people attend the Catholic Church and
    acknowledge themselves as Christians.  3,200,000 (1993 census) people in Peru still speak Quechua, the
    language of the Incas, and a majority of this population is in the region of Cusco.  It is common to go the
    marketplace or to small communities and find people who still speak the language of their ancestors as well
    as Spanish.  Cusco’s history is truly amazing and present everywhere.  All the buildings with the Inca wall
    foundations and colonial architecture will take one back in time.
  • Its people: Being open and helpful is a characteristic of people from Cusco so it is very easy to interact with
    them. They will try their hardest to help visitors feel at ease in their new environment.  In general, people have
    bright and positive attitudes.  Cusquenians like to joke, laugh, dance, spend time with family and friends, take
    things easy and work hard.
  • Its food: Peru is recognized as a country with one of the finest cuisines in the world. Its food entails a
    combination of tastes from different parts of the world like Spain and even Japan and China.   Peru grows
    some of the healthiest foods that are not found in other parts of the world and many of these are found in the
    Andes Region (Cusco).  Some of these crops include quinua, maca, kiwicha, etc.  Peru also has the largest
    variety of potatoes, which are mostly grown in the Andes region (Cusco).  Click here to read more on mouth
    watering Peruvian recipes!
Its geography: Cusco is unique because as
you can see from the picture on the left, it is
surrounded by impressively big mountains.
The city of Cusco is located in the
southeastern part of Peru in the Andes
Its culture: Cusco’s homes roofed with
picturesque orange tile roofs and houses with
balconies from colonial times remain the norm
in architecture as well as Inca stones that
serve as a foundation for colonial built
structures. This architecture is a
representation of Cusco’s culture.  Regardless
of time passed, the Inca culture still serves as
a foundation for the new acquired Spanish
culture which was instilled in the 1500s with
the Spanish conquest.  Evidence of this is
seen in all the arts: paintings, music, dances.  
It is also evident in the religion and rituals.  
Cusco is history in the present.  
View of the city of Cusco
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