When traveling to Cusco, Peru, there are several travel tips to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience. Here are some helpful suggestions:
Cusco is located at a high altitude, so acclimatize gradually to prevent altitude sickness. Rest upon arrival, drink plenty of water, and avoid strenuous activities for the first couple of days.
Altitude acclimatization is a crucial consideration when traveling to Cusco due to its high elevation. Cusco sits at approximately 3,400 meters (11,150 feet) above sea level, and the effects of high altitude can be felt, especially for those coming from lower elevations.
tips for altitude acclimatization
Here are some tips for altitude acclimatization in Cusco:
- Take It Easy: Allow your body time to adjust to the altitude. Avoid strenuous physical activities, especially during the first 24 to 48 hours of your arrival.
- Stay Hydrated: Drink water to stay hydrated. Dehydration can worsen the effects of altitude sickness, so it’s essential to keep your fluid intake up.
- Avoid Alcohol and Caffeine: Both alcohol and caffeine can contribute to dehydration, which may exacerbate altitude-related symptoms. Limit your intake during the first few days.
- Eat Light Meals: Opt for light and easily digestible meals during the initial acclimatization period. Heavy meals can make you feel uncomfortable and may hinder the acclimatization process.
- Coca Leaves or Coca Tea: Chewing coca leaves or drinking coca tea is a traditional remedy used by locals to alleviate altitude sickness symptoms. Many hotels and restaurants offer coca tea, which is believed to help with the adjustment.
- Medication: Some travelers may consider using medications like Acetazolamide (Diamox) to prevent or treat altitude sickness. However, consult with a healthcare professional before taking any medication and be aware of possible side effects.
- Rest: Get plenty of rest during the first few days in Cusco. Allow your body to adjust and avoid pushing yourself too hard.
- Gradual Ascent: If you’re planning to visit higher-altitude destinations around Cusco, consider a gradual ascent. For example, visit the Sacred Valley or other nearby places before heading to even higher altitudes like Machu Picchu.
- Recognize Symptoms: Familiarize yourself with the symptoms of altitude sickness, which may include headaches, dizziness, nausea, shortness of breath, and fatigue.
Remember that everyone acclimatizes differently, and some people may adjust quickly, while others may take more time. Listen to your body, be patient, and take the necessary precautions to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience in Cusco. If you have any health concerns or pre-existing medical conditions, it’s advisable to consult with a healthcare professional before your trip.
To help with altitude sickness, you can try chewing coca leaves or drinking coca tea, a traditional remedy used by locals. However, be aware that the leaves may have mild stimulating effects.
Dress in Layers
The weather in Cusco can vary throughout the day. Bring clothing that can be layered, including warm clothes for the chilly mornings and evenings.
Be prepared for walking on uneven terrain and cobblestone streets. Comfortable and sturdy footwear is essential, especially if you plan to explore historical sites or hike.
Protect Against Sun
Due to Cusco’s high altitude, the sun can be intense.
Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated, especially in the high-altitude environment.
Booking Machu Picchu Tickets
If you plan to visit Machu Picchu, book your tickets in advance, as the site has a daily visitor limit.
Booking Machu Picchu tickets requires some planning due to the limited number of daily visitors allowed.
Decide on the Date and Time:
Determine the date and time you wish to visit Machu Picchu. Keep in mind that the site has two entrance times: morning (6:00 AM – 12:00 PM) and afternoon (12:00 PM – 5:30 PM).
Choose the Type of Ticket
There are different ticket options based on what you want to visit within Machu Picchu. The most common ones are the general admission ticket, which includes access to the main archaeological site, or a ticket that includes access to the site plus either Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain (additional hiking opportunities with stunning views).
Visit the official Peruvian government website to check the availability of tickets for your desired date and entrance time. The website is the only authorized platform for purchasing Machu Picchu tickets.
Create an Account
To make a reservation, you’ll need to create an account on the website using your email address.
Complete the Reservation
Follow the steps on the website to select the date, entrance time, and ticket type. Provide the necessary information for all members of your group (names, passport numbers, etc.).
Once you have completed the reservation details, proceed to the payment section. Machu Picchu tickets are usually paid online using a credit or debit card.
After payment, you should receive a confirmation email with your reservation details. Keep this confirmation handy as you’ll need to show it along with your passport when entering Machu Picchu.
Secure Other Arrangements
After booking your tickets, finalize other travel arrangements, such as transportation to Aguas Calientes (the town at the base of Machu Picchu), accommodation, and any additional guided tours you may want to book.
It’s important to note that Machu Picchu tickets can sell out quickly, especially during peak tourist seasons. Therefore, it’s best to book your tickets well in advance, preferably a few months ahead of your intended visit.
Remember that visiting Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain requires an additional ticket, and there is a limit to the number of visitors allowed per day for these hikes as well. Be sure to plan accordingly and secure all the necessary tickets for your desired experiences at Machu Picchu.
Use reputable and licensed transportation services when traveling around the city or between attractions.
How is the Transportation services around Cusco
Transportation services around Cusco are generally reliable and accessible, catering to the needs of both locals and tourists. Here are the common types of transportation available in and around Cusco:
Taxis are a common mode of transportation within the city. They are readily available and can be easily flagged down on the streets or found at taxi stands. It’s recommended to use licensed and registered taxis, and it’s a good idea to negotiate the fare before starting the ride or ensure they use the meter.
Colectivos are shared vans or minibusses that operate on specific routes within and around Cusco. They are a cost-effective option for shorter distances and are often used by locals.
Cusco has a public bus system that connects different neighborhoods and outskirts of the city. Buses are an affordable way to travel, but they may not always be the most comfortable option for tourists.
Many hotels and tour agencies offer private transportation services for airport transfers, day trips, and excursions to nearby attractions like the Sacred Valley or Machu Picchu. This option provides convenience and flexibility for travelers.
Cusco’s historic center is compact and pedestrian-friendly, making walking an enjoyable way to explore the city’s streets, alleys, and squares.
Renting a car is possible in Cusco, but it’s not the most common choice for tourists due to the narrow and winding roads, traffic congestion, and parking challenges in the city.
If you’re planning to visit Machu Picchu, you can take a train from Cusco to Aguas Calientes, the town at the base of the ancient citadel. The train journey offers scenic views of the Andean landscape.
When using transportation services in Cusco, it’s essential to keep your belongings secure, especially in crowded areas. Always use reputable and licensed services for a safe and reliable experience. Many hotels and tour agencies can assist with arranging transportation for day trips and excursions, ensuring a smooth and enjoyable travel experience in and around Cusco.
Try Local Cuisine
Cusco offers a variety of delicious Peruvian dishes. Don’t miss the opportunity to try local specialties like alpaca meat, cuy (guinea pig), and more.
Cusco, being a cultural and historical hub in Peru, offers a delightful array of local cuisine that reflects the country’s rich culinary heritage. Here are some must-try dishes when visiting Cusco:
- Cuy (Guinea Pig): A traditional Peruvian delicacy, cuy is a roasted or fried guinea pig. It’s a popular dish in Cusco and considered a special treat for celebrations and festive occasions.
- Lomo Saltado: This is a flavorful stir-fry dish made with beef (lomo), onions, tomatoes, and fried potatoes, all seasoned with soy sauce and spices. It showcases the fusion of Chinese and Peruvian culinary influences.
- Anticuchos: Anticuchos are skewered and grilled meat, often made with marinated beef heart. They are served with a spicy chili sauce called “ají.”
- Ceviche: While ceviche is a coastal dish, you can still find excellent versions in Cusco due to the country’s diverse culinary scene. Ceviche consists of raw fish or seafood marinated in lime juice, mixed with onions, chili peppers, and cilantro.
- Rocoto Relleno: Rocoto is a spicy Peruvian red pepper filled with a mixture of ground beef, onions, peanuts, and other ingredients. It’s usually topped with melted cheese and served with a side of potatoes.
- Pachamanca: This traditional Andean dish is prepared by cooking meat, potatoes, and vegetables underground using hot stones. It results in tender, flavorful ingredients infused with smoky aromas.
- Papa a la Huancaína: Sliced boiled potatoes smothered in a creamy, spicy cheese sauce called “Huancaína sauce.” It’s typically served with hard-boiled eggs and olives.
- Chicha Morada: A refreshing and non-alcoholic beverage made from purple corn, pineapple, cinnamon, and other spices. It’s a perfect drink to accompany your meals.
- Choclo con Queso: Choclo refers to large Andean corn, and it’s often served with a side of fresh cheese. It’s a simple yet delicious snack or appetizer.
- Quinoa Soup: Quinoa is a superfood native to the Andes, and you can try it in a comforting and nutritious soup.
Exploring the local cuisine in Cusco is an integral part of your travel experience, and you’ll find a wide range of dining options, from street food to upscale restaurants. Be adventurous and savor the authentic flavors of Peru while enjoying the charming atmosphere of this historic city.
Bargaining is common in local markets, but it’s best to do it respectfully and with a smile.
Respect Local Culture
Be respectful of local customs and traditions, especially when visiting sacred sites or interacting with indigenous communities.
While Cusco is generally safe, keep an eye on your belongings, especially in crowded areas.
By keeping these tips in mind, you can make the most of your visit to Cusco and enjoy the city’s rich history, culture, and breathtaking surroundings.