Nestling in the southeastern Andes, the city of Cuzco is Peru's premier tourist attractions and one of the main destinations in the Americas. Held to be the abode of the gods by the Incas, Cuzco was the capital of the great pre-Colombian empires: the Tahuantinsuyo, from where the four parts of the Empire (called “suyos”) were managed, Chinchaysuyo (to the north), Contisuyo (to the West), the Collasuyo (to the south) and Antisuyo (to the east). Its name in Quechua, the Inca language, means "the navel of the world", as it was the hub of a network of roads that spanned much of South America, ranging from as far north as Colombia down to northern Chile and Argentina. The terrain in Cusco is steep, combining fertile inter-Andean valleys with impressive mountains that descend to the rim of the jungle where the temperature rises and the landscape is transformed through a variety of vegetation.
The city of Cusco, the ancient capital of the Incan Empire, was placed on the World Cultural Heritage List by UNESCO in 1983, and is without a doubt one of the most important destinations in Peru. There are Incan buildings waiting for you to discover them among its cobble-stoned streets, ones like the Koricancha and the palace of Inca Roca as well as Andean Baroque structures from the Colonial Period like the Cathedral and the Church of the Company of Christ. In addition, you can visit the picturesque neighborhood of San Blas where the best artisans in the department have set up their workshops. This magical city also has an exciting nightlife with cafes, restaurants, and bars for all tastes. Just ten minutes away from the city, there are the massive walls of the SacsayhuamÃ¡n fortress, and a few kilometers from there, you find the archaeological sites of Qenko, Pukapukara, and Tambomachay, Incan buildings constructed completely with stone.
There are also the towns of Pisac, Maras, Chinchero, and Ollantaytambo, which are spread throughout the Sacred Valley of the Incas, one hour from Cusco. From there, it is possible to catch the train to Machu Picchu. Another way of getting to the citadel is by following one of the Inca Trails, a spectacular network of pathways that snake their way among the snow covered mountains, rivers, and overwhelming countryside. This is one of the best trekking routes in the world, since scattered throughout it, you find remarkable archaeological sites and areas rich in unique plant and animal species.
We will visit San Cristobal Main Square to have a panoramic view of the city of Cusco, and the well-known San Blas neighborhood, one of the most picturesque areas in all of Cusco, it is called T’oqokachi or Salt Hole and is characterized by narrow, steep streets and beautiful Colonial houses. It is also known as the Artisans Neighborhood.
We will climb the Archaeological park of Sacsayhuaman, in the higher part of Cusco.
We will visit the source of spring water Tambomachay, where that element was worshiped; the remains of Qenko, a stone made labyrinth keeping a sacrifice altar; then on to the Fortress of Sacsayhuaman, enjoying a wonderful view of the city of Cuzco and become amazed by the massive stones comprising the fortress.
We will visit the imperial city; we will go into the Cathedral where you will enjoy the view of beautiful woodwork and colonial paintings containing extensive Inca iconography. After that, we will visit the Korikancha, the Temple of the Sun (Templo del Sol) where the Convent of Santo Domingo was built; legend says this temple was completed laminated in gold that impressed the conquerors at their arrival.
You will be driven through a scenic landscape to the Urubamba Valley, the "Sacred Valley of the Incas". Pisac is a native town where exchange transactions used to be carried out (exchange of one good for others). The major attraction: the market and a mass in Quechua every Sunday, with the presence of majors preceded by helpers, who played typical musical instruments called “pututos”.
The first stop will be Chinchero Village. A must see is the Colonial church where beautiful paintings of the Cusco School are kept. Every Sunday, the farmers and businessmen gather to exchange their products in a fair where they still barter.
There are important archaeological vestiges in the area. We will continue to the Salt Mines of Maras, also called Salinas de Maras, these salt-mines have been used since the Tahuantinsuyo. The people channel the salt water that bubbles to the surface from a spring called Qoripujio towards men-made wells. From the exposure to the sun, the water evaporates and the salt remains on the surface to be transported later to the market to be sold.
Pisac is well known for its craft market, but there are also Inca archeological remnants: an irrigation system, an astronomical observatory, a solar clock and calendar (Intiwatana), and agricultural terraces that you will be able to explore. This archaeological site is considered one of the most important in Cuzco.
23 km or 14 miles from Cusco in the district of Taray we will visit the Awanakancha South American Camelids Theme Park. Camelids such as llamas, vicuñas, and alpacas are to be seen there in their native environment. The native people in charge will also demonstrate how to make clothing from the wool fibers of the animals and you will be able to buy traditional and industrial textiles of high quality. In addition, you can see native flowers and some Inca-built agricultural terraces. Awanakancha is the Quechua name that means “The Palace of the Weaver”.
You will be taken to Tipon that according to the legend is one of the royal gardens that Wiracocha ordered to be built. It is made up of twelve terraces flanked by perfectly polished stonewalls and enormous agricultural terraces, canals, and decorative waterfalls that, along with the native flowers of the area, offers the visitor a stunning vision.
We will visit to the Salt Mines of Maras, also called Salinas de Maras, these salt-mines have been used since the Tahuantinsuyo. The people channel the salt water that bubbles to the surface from a spring called Qoripujio towards men-made wells.
Not all visitors are aware of the many places of interest close to the city of Cusco that are located to the southeast of the ancient Incan capital.
Andahuaylillas and San Juan Bautista de Huaro are two places that have historic jewels of great cultural interest as well as the Church of the Virgin of Candelaria in Canincunca, located near the lake in Urcos. The travelers will learn about important moments in the history of the south-Andean communities. In this places also you will observe mural paintings illustrating the heaven, earth, soul and hell.
The Temple of the “Compañía de Jesus” in Cusco, the Church of the Virgin of Candelaria in Canincunca, located near the lake in Urcos, Huaro and Andahuaylillas.