Pura Vida Travels - A Guide To Travel In Latin America








I arrived in Lima late on a Thursday evening and I had an early flight on Friday morning to Cusco, Peru. The city of Cusco is located 11,000 feet above sea level in the Andes Mountains. I booked a window city so I could get some photos on the way but unfortunately it was quite cloudy. March is the tail end of the rainy season in the Peruvian Andes so I knew I was taking a risk going to Cusco this time of the year. For weeks I had been watching the weather and reading nothing but forecasts for rain and flood warnings so I was particularly optomistic for this trip.

Although March is the middle of summer in Peru you can see snow on the mountains in a few of the photos. You can also see how swollen the rivers are. I would get to see them up close very soon and I have never seen raging rapids like these before. The speed of the water was incredible.



Street In Lima

Statue Near The Airport

Flying Over The Pacific

Huge Mine

Into The Andes

Swollen River

Snow Covered Peaks

Snow Covered Peaks

Mountains

Flying into Cusco is quite interesting. Even though Cusco is at 11,000 feet it's still in a valley surrounded by mountains. On the way in the plane weaves it's way through the mountain peaks, then circles around a big mountain, and finally lands at the airport. The airport itself is tiny but because of that it only takes about 5 minutes to get off the plane, get your luggage, and be on your way to your hotel. They had a band playing Peruvian music at baggage claim which I thought was a nice touch.



Coming Into Cusco

Cusco

Cusco

Coming Into Cusco

Cusco

Cusco Airport

The hotel I stayed at is called the Del Prado Inn and it's right next to the Plaza De Armas in the heart of Cusco. It's a nice cozy place and when you arrive they give you a cup of coca tea. (No, the tea doesn't get you high.) The coca tea is a natural remedy for altitude sickness. A lot of people have a hard time handling the altitude but it didn't bother me at all. The tea is really good. It's really smooth and mild and has a nice flavor.

After checking into the hotel I headed out to do some sightseeing. The first thing I discovered about the Plaza De Armas is that it is very beautiful. The second thing I discovered is it is very annoying. It is impossible to go more than 10 seconds without someone trying to shine your shoes, sell you something you don't want, or just beg money from you. Once you get away from there Cusco is great for shopping. I found incredible deals here on some really neat stuff. I walked everywhere but there are plenty of cabs. Walking is not for everyone, however, because many of the streets are quite steep and narrow. I found myself hugging a building more than once as a cab sped past so be careful.



Coca Tea

Street In Front Of The Hotel

Plaza De Armas

Plaza De Armas

Plaza De Armas

Cathedral

Narrow Streets

Old Building

Palace Of Justice

Palace Of Justice

Cool Mural

Map Of Cusco

Cusco Was Founded In 1650

Plaza De Armas

Plaza De Armas

Plenty Of Shopping In Cusco

Inca Museum

Narrow And STEEP Streets

After wandering around for a while I decided to have an early dinner since I was starving. I found a little place on a back street called "Pachamama" and the food was excellent. For an appetizer I had alpaca carpaccio. I figured since I had never eaten alpaca I might as well go all out and have it raw. Alpaca is actually very good. It's a little more tender than normal beef and pretty much tastes the same. For the main course I had lomo saltado and it was the best lomo saltado I had on this trip. It was very spicy and different. You may notice on the sign for the restaurant that one of their specialties is guinea pig. That's right, guinea pig is a delicacy in Peru although it's one I wasn't brave enough to try.


Cool Street Scene

Pachamama

Cool Lamp

The Bar

Alpaca Carpaccio

Lomo Saltado Muy Picante

Get Your Guinea Pig Here

Inca Wall

Cathedral

Before the Spanish showed up Cusco was the center of the Inca empire so Cusco has a mix of elements from both. The Inca's were incredible engineers. The joints on the walls they built are as tight today as they were the day the were built more than 500 years ago. All of the rocks, although they look square, are actually trapezoid shaped. Believe it or not this is actually an anti-seismic technique that was about 500 years ahead of it's time.

The Spanish on the other hand built churches whenever they showed up. There are several spectacular cathedrals in Cusco. Unfortunately, you can only take pictures from the outside. In fact, you aren't even allowed in the cathedrals most of the time. I was able to peak inside and you will have to take my word for it, they are spectacular.



Cathedral

Cathedral

Cathedral

Local Park

Local Park

Peruvian Art

Cool Archway

Local Woman

More Cathedrals

The further that I got from the Plaza De Armas the more I started liking Cusco. The shops in the Plaza De Armas are ridiculously expensive and from what I saw exist for the purpose of ripping off gringos that are afraid to go anywhere else. The same sweaters they were selling for $120 in the Plaza De Armas I bought for $10 on the back streets of Cusco. There's a huge market a couple miles away that's definately worth a visit. You need a strong stomach to walk around in it because the smells could gag a maggot but it was amazing to see. You can buy coca leaves, a bulls head, dried alpacas, flowers, and sex toys all in one stop. It's hard to beat that combination!



Viva El Peru

Local TV Station

There's A Guy Under There...

Unloading The Truck

Fresh Flowers

Dried Alpacas And Sex Toys

Coca Leaves

A Bulls Head

Animal Parts


Click Here For Pics Of My Journey To Machu Picchu


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