Saturday, June 15, 2013


If you are looking for tips to travel to Cusco and Machu Pichu by land, knowing all the Sacred Valley of the Incas, practical information, prices or itineraries, this article will be helpful. Recently, the Spanish TRAVEL National Geographic magazine, asked me a note about it and then I realized: Clumsy! Why not share it with the readers of my blog? I know that I have used you to reading about faraway countries, but with this article I hope to do justice to a destination that every traveler should know.

The article is divided into three parts:

1.    Cusco
2.    Sacred Valley
3.    Alternative Way to Machu Pichu (próximately, in separate post )

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Why Cusco? Cusco is the kilometer zero of any adventure into the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu, mecca for many "first trip" across Latin America of those who have long been looking at the map, measuring forces and wondering if they have encourage.  If you decided to get away from the maddening city (call Buenos Aires, Santiago de Chile, Montevideo or any other capital) travel north you will be connecting with more harmonious lifestyle, with indigenous communities that live off the land and not against the land , the salt pans of the size of a sea, with ruins of empires whose wisdom still hanging around nearby.

When the Incas founded their capital, they considered it the world's navel, the center of his empire, the Tahuantisuyo, and from there began their conquests. I felt it was also a crossroads for travelers and migrants from all countries and colors that intersect at hostels, bars and cafes. The whole city seems to be traveling through the feet and energy of those who visit.


Most western nationalities do not need a visa to enter Peru. If you do not need sos Argentine passport or visa to enter Peru. That said, I always travel with a passport. You never know when you are invited to Russia in flying saucer :-) In both cases you get 90 days and a form called Andean Card, you must complete and return you sealed. DO NOT miss it, you will have to submit to exit.


  • The best time is from April to November (dry season). Refreshes much at night (and with coat!) But the days are sunny and cloudless, the thermometer can climb to 22 degrees. Please note: June to August is high season and the prices go up a little. The most important festivals are: Inti Raymi (June 24) and Qoylluriti (May to June, variable)   
  • From December to March it rains a lot and there is usually avalanches on the Inca Trail, which can be closed as a result. A couple of times it has ended badly, with tents washed away.


1. Bie comfortable trekking boots.
2. Waterproof Jacket (*) and rain poncho for hiking
3. Sleeping bag
4. The secret of Laura: earplugs for noisy hostels
5. Water Bottle
6. Alarm to catch buses at dawn
7. Flashlight for overnight camping on the Inca Trail
8. Lock for the backpack / tent, to discourage foreign friends.
9. Hat and sunglasses for sun protection in mountain walks.
10. repellent
11. Mesh to get into the hot springs of Aguas Calientes
12. First Aid Kit
13. ISIC card or regular student certificate for discounted tickets.

(*) You can get good imitation North Face jackets (made in China) for real good prices around Cusco.



As you know I love to hitchhike, not by economics but by sheer adventure, adrenaline and social contact. The two routes that follow, from Argentina-the-can make your taste-a finger or bus. If you need to make your finger tips, read this post.

There are basically two routes to Cusco coming from Argentina.

  • One is across Bolivia and entering through the Titicaca Peru and connecting from there to Puno and then Cusco. It is the most interesting and culturally consistent with what you see, because they say that emerged from the Titicaca Inca gods and followed the same path.
  • The other is crossing into Chile through Paso de Jama Argentina in the Province of Jujuy, and then up the Pacific coast of Chile and Peru for the Panamericana to Arequipa, and then cross the Andes to the ancient Inca capital. It's the fastest, more pavement and traveling easier finger that Bolivia Chile.
  • An alternative route and little used is from Porto Velho, which you get from Manaus in the Brazilian Amazon. From Porto Velho can be connected by paved road on the border of Assis Brasil (BR) - Iñapari (Peru) - Puerto Maldonado - Cuzco, traversing 763 km in Peruvian territory.

Those who have more money than time, can consider the international bus from Buenos Aires to Lima (off at Arequipa), or take a plane.


Ideally take dollars and change them PERUVIAN SOLES (S /.) Local currency. His exchange with the dollar (April, 2013) is 2.58 soles per dollar. If entering from Chile Peru by Pan cushy positions can change at the terminal of Tacna. If you need to change more in Cusco, there are exchange offices in the Plaza de Armas and the Avenida El Sol also for there are no cash. USD Change in Peru is legal and free. Some of these agents also change travelers checks.


There are plenty of hostels and lodges of all categories. If arriving by bus are going to tackle a lot of women by offering hostel. We feel very comfortable in the Riqchary Hostel. It was not the cheapest but haggle :-) Don`t stay in the terminal area, because all the tourist attractions are going to be very far.

Price of accommodation in Cusco (approximate)

Shared bathroom slept 15 to 25 soles (shared bathroom)

Private Single room 40 soles

Private double room 60 soles

Other travelers have gotten lower prices in Hanan Qosqo Mirador Lodge (Qoricalle 445) and Tinkuy Huasi (Tullumayo 267) with lower price amenities and staying for several days. Ideal for small groups of travelers on a budget.

  • For those prices hostels usually include TV, wifi, hot shower and breakfast.
  • Ask twice what hot water that cold night looooong ago.
  • If you are going to do some hiking or trekking agencies can usually leave luggage at no charge hostels.

As elsewhere, I recommend using the web hosting exchange Couchsurfing, although as in many tourist sites, it is often difficult to make ends meet without later still a hostel or you want to charge. (The profile that say they work in tourism are highly likely to be fishing customers than offering hospitality)


                                       No se asusten, además de cuy hay otras opciones...

Eating in Cusco is very economical, especially for the culture of street food market. In the central San Pedro Central Market you can have breakfast for 2 S /. and lunch or dinner for 3-5 S /. Throughout the city there are local eateries where the menu does not exceeds 5 S /. and includes soups as input and drink (a glass of juice or tea). We had lunch (fixed) in a room where every day was rice with trout, also for 4 S /.

Dishes are almost always based on rice. Traditional ones are:

  • Seco de carne, pescado y pollo 
  • Lomo saltado
  • Ají de Gallina
  • Cuy (If you have wanted to try a bunny india this is your chance)
  • There are special dishes are prepared only for parties, as Chiri Uchu (for Corpus Christi)

Prices of snacks:
  • Mixed juices (orange with pineapple, papaya, etc.) on the market: 2.50 S /.
  • Cusqueña black (my favorite in Peru): 5 S /.
  • Picarones: sweet fried donuts (very rare but delicious): 2.50 S /.
Western Food:
  • There are plenty of cafes, pizzerias and even a Starbucks ... Prices of pizzas, burgers, etc. are naturally much more expensive than the aforementioned.
  • Item must for every gringo passing through Cusco Paddy `s Irish Pub, the Irish pub world's highest. They say it's the best wave bar to watch football matches both the South American and European leagues.

Gourmet Peruvian Food:

If you want to splurge and try traditional dishes with a contemporary edge, like a passion fruit pisco or ceviche giant, highly-recommended restaurant Fusion Inka, a block from the Plaza de Armas (Calle Loreto 125)

                      Para vengar esas hormigas vivas que nos hicieron probar en el Amazonas...


Walk! Cusco is beautiful despite having many steep streets. A taxi from the terminal to the Plaza de Armas, where most of the hostels, it will cost 6 S /. And then, in general, within the central radius with S /. 4 reaches.


  • Plaza de Armas: was the kilometer zero of the Inca Empire, from here started their paths to the four or regions of the Empire. It was the site of the martyrdom of Tupac Amaru
  • In the Cathedral you can see a local version of the Last Supper in which Jesus Christ is facing a huge plate of cuy. Its foundations are Incas and belonged to the ancient temple of Viracocha. To see inside the churches, the ideal is to loop through Sundays until 9 am as they are at Mass and charge admission.

  • Koricancha: the most venerable of the Inca sun temple. On its foundation was built the Convent of Santo Domingo. Its hybrid architecture summarizes the history of Peru.
  • What makes the city unique is the amount of Inca walls built in the colonial urban, as the alley walls Loreto and Acllahuasi (former home of the virgins who served the Inca) and the famous Stone of Twelve Angles are in Hatunrumiyoc street.
  • Barrio San Blas: colonial and steep, with many craft shops.

What is the tourist ticket (BT) and what does it cover?

  The only way to access some of the museums of Cusco and-primarily-almost all the archaeological ruins of the Sacred Valley Tourist Ticket is buying a single ticket that costs S /. 130 or S /. 70 for students under 26 with ISIC card. It can be purchased in Av Sol N ° 103 (Monday to Friday 8:00 a.m. to 5:30 PM and Saturday from 8:30 to 12:30) and is valid for 10 days. The Tourist Ticket includes: Cusco Cathedral, Museum of Religious Art, Church of San Blas, Regional History Museum, Pachacutec Monument and the Sacred Valley following sites: Sacsayhuaman, Kenko, Puca Pucara, Tambo Machay, Pisac, Ollantaytambo and Chinchero. It includes Machu Pichu.

Cusco A popular character known as "the blind man of Middle Street." In 2008 I met and charmed by the peace that arpegiaban his fingers took the first photo collage. At that time I was not aware of his blindness. I left a few coins in his piggy bank and went traveling. Months later I decided to expand your photo, and even managed to sell some copies. On my return to Cusco (2012), four years later I found (second photo). Obserquiarle wanted a copy of the photograph. The cheerful accepted (third photo) and I knew from his enfermedad.Dijo that although he could not see it would make a beautiful present for your family. The man waits an operation that will return the view. Meanwhile his music angel bounces like narrow passages between the Incas.


There are too many to list them all museums. They personally visited them:

  • Koricancha Site Museum: in the basement of the same Koricancha. (S /. 10)
  • Regional Historical Museum. If you end up not understanding who were Tupac Amaru and Garcilaso de la Vega, this is your museum-kill donkeys.
  • Folk Art Museum: something bizarre, with thousands of miniature figures of all festivals, celebrations and local dances with his demons and mythological creatures. To understand the significance of festivals like Inti Raymi or Qoylluriti
  • The Museum of sacred plants, medicinal magic and explains everything you need to know about coca and ayahuasca, among other plants. We brought fresh memories of the time an Ecuadorian Amazonian Shuar community shared their stories with us ...

Volunteering in Cusco:
Want to travel to Cusco and learn what life in the semi-rural outskirts of Cusco and contribute to the education of their children? Peru inquiries to cooperate and accompany them. They also have a hostel, something basic, named Hostel Caja Magica, which funds educational activities.


When traveling to Cusco and then tour the Sacred Valley, I had the impression it was a lie that the Inca Empire had bowed gunpowder and musket of the conquerors. This corridor crossed by streams and rivers pampas, organically intertwines between the archaeological ruins vicuna and llamas grazing. The peasantry is part of the heritage, as the scattered communities pay homage to old farming techniques that catered to the largest empire in South America. Please note that you need to buy the tourist ticket to access many of the archaeological sites.

Day trips from Cusco:

Sacsayhuaman, the first appeal is barely 2 km from Cusco, so it can be visited even by foot. It is a labyrinthine fortress in ruins. From here there are excellent views to take aerial photos of Cusco. Many guides will be offered to tell the history of the place they know very little about it. It is best to test the guide in advance, never pay in advance or directly traverse down internet info.

Other significant ruins included in the tourist ticket are Qenko (6 km from Cusco. 3850 mts) with interesting zigzag channels, mazes and-venture-deposits some sacred chicha, Puca Pucara, a military fortification whose name in Quechua means "red fortress "by the color stones taken at sunset, and Tambomachay, sophisticated site for the worship ritual water.

What order to visit so many ruins and villages? if they are not experts on the subject or do not have all the time in the world, visiting only from Cusco Sacsayhuaman, which will give a snapshot of the subject, and the other three are further along the road leading to Pisac, you can visit around.

SACRED VALLEY TRANSPORTATION: Most mini-buses and shared taxis traveling to the villages of the Sacred Valley of the terminal exit Avenida Grau 535 between 5:30 am and 8 pm. However, the hitch works great.

Cusco-Chinchero: S/. 2
Cusco-Urubamba: S/. 3,50
Cusco-Pisaq: S/. 2

Starting from Chinchero, the route is shown on the map below.

What not to miss in the Sacred Valley

Chinchero (my favorite) Village was once the royal hacienda of Tupac Inca Yupanqui. The church of Our Lady of Monserrat, built in 1607 on Inca foundations, is for me the most beautiful church in the Andes. In its vicinity are indigenous women selling very nice sweaters and textiles. In the Sunday market, also you can see the traditional barter for chuño coca leaves, corn and fruit. (Check with BT)

                                                   ¿Qué gusto tiene la sal?

Maras. One hour from this village you will find these salt mines, which flooded three thousand wells have been exploited since the Inca era. The landscape is surreal, blinding (with sunglasses) No accommodation, go back to Urubamba or camping. Input: S /. 5

Moray. The ruins of an ancient Inca agricultural experimentation center presents concentric stone terraces and simulate altitude who managed a score of microclimates suitable for planting. No accommodation. Input: S /. 10

                                             ¡Por nada del mundo se pierdan los mercados!

Urubamba: the main town of the valley has not ruined, but it is a good base to move Maras and Moray. In addition, there are accommodations, ATMs and other amenities. Every evening in the square, foreigners who have settled in the village organized a fair of organic dishes up-market prices, led mostly to foreign tourists. But the atmosphere is nice.

Many people visit Maras and Moray on a walk from Urumbamba. We did Cusco-Chinchero-Maras on foot, and from there we walked to Urubamba.

Calca and un unknown walk. From Calca (2930m) is a path through the Valley of Lares to be done in about five hours, starting from the Treasury Huarán, crossing two steps +4000 m and ending in the hot springs of Lares. Will turn into mini-buses.

                                              Contacto con la tierra - Yucay
Yucay, zen touch. In this tiny town two dreamers, Avishai (Israel) and Viviana (Peru) opened the Sacred Valley Retreat B & B an eco-lodge that organic meals prepared with ingredients from your own garden, offers guided walks and meditation and yoga sessions. Lau thought he had found a place to live there.

OllantaytamboThe village rigorously respects the original Inca layout and is famous for the Inca agricultural terraces carved into the steep slopes of the mountain. (Check with BT). From there you can also take buses to Santa Maria, where the road begins to Machu Pichu alternative.

PisaqI put it at the end, but can be done as the first destination after if they skip Chinchero Cusco. We made ​​it back. The village is famous for the ruins of an ancient Inca fortress appearing after a good time to hike up the mountain. There are several groups of ruins (Pisaqa, Intihuana and Kanchiraqay) If you got bored of the ruins and want to leave a mark on the local community, visit your Sacred Friendship NGO. There our friend Sanang does community work in villages. If you buy a craft, buying it here dejás a footprint.

Of course, with a good map, and hiking possibilities are endless visits to communities.

To read the tips for Machu Pichu click this link (coming soon)

If you have a valuable data aabout economic hostels, museums or practical advice, please leave it as a comment on the blog (not on Facebook) so others benefit!

If this guide was helpful share it  on social networks.


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